You’ve watched The Matrix. You’ve seen Reloaded and Revolutions, and you’ve blitzed through Resurrections already. So, what now?
Well, where do we start? The Matrix directors, Lana and Lilly Wachowski, have a substantial filmography to dig into, for one thing. From their neo-noir debut Bound to their 2015 space opera Jupiter Ascending, the Wachowskis are always pushing boundaries in their work.
Plus, the sisters have spoken about their inspiration for the movies before, which in turn provides some inspiration for further viewing – from anime to sci-fi to kung-fu movies, The Matrix series pays homage to several different genres. We’ve picked out some specific titles named by Lana and Lilly in past interviews and some other movies from those genres that we also see elements of The Matrix in. So, let’s get into it – scroll on and fill out your watch list with our picks of the best movies like The Matrix to watch next.
Co-directed by the Wachowskis and German filmmaker Tom Tykwer, Cloud Atlas is based on the novel by David Mitchell and was released in 2012. Starring an ensemble cast including Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, and Doona Bae, each cast member plays multiple roles in multiple plots that span different eras and countries. The different plot lines have a knock-on effect on each other, from San Francisco in the ’70s to post-apocalyptic Hawaii.
Blade Runner 2049
The sequel to Ridley Scott’s neo-noir sci-fi movie sees Denis Villeneuve take over the director’s chair (although Scott was still on board as an executive producer) and Harrison Ford reprise his role as Rick Deckard. Set 30 years after the original movie, Ryan Gosling plays K, a replicant “blade runner” who uncovers a secret that threatens to destabilize society and the course of civilization. Taking place in a dystopian world where nothing is as it seems, this is a must-watch for Matrix fans.
V for Vendetta
The Wachowskis may not have directed 2005’s V for Vendetta, but they did write the screenplay. Set in an alternative facist future in the UK, the movie stars Hugo Weaving as V, a masked anarchist terrorist. Natalie Portman plays Evey, a woman who gets caught up in his mission to start a revolution. It’s based on the graphic novel written by Alan Moore and has a healthy dose of the Wahcowskis political dystopian plotlines.
Ghost in the Shell
Based on the manga of the same name by Masamune Shirow, Ghost in the Shell was released in 1995. It follows Major Motoko Kusanagi, a cyborg who works in anti-cybercrime law enforcement. She’s tasked with hunting down a mysterious hacker known as the Puppet Master. The Wachowskis have previously cited this movie as an inspiration for The Matrix – producer Joel Silver said that the sisters originally pitched the movie by showing him Ghost in the Shell and saying, “We wanna do that for real”.
Directed by Christopher Nolan, Inception stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a professional thief who steals information by infiltrating his victims’ dreams. He’s offered a chance to have his criminal history erased – in exchange for implanting another person’s idea into a target’s subconscious. The ensemble cast includes Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Elliot Page, Tom Hardy, and Michael Caine. The movie was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won four of them. Plus, it’s not as confusing as people say it is. We promise.
Another Wachowski-helmed movie – Jupiter Ascending was released in 2015 and stars Mila Kunis as an ordinary woman who discovers that she’s the heiress of intergalactic nobility. Channing Tatum plays a genetically engineered soldier who informs of her fate, and Eddie Redmayne, Sean Bean, and Douglas Booth also star. In fact, Booth described the movie as a cross between The Matrix and Star Wars, which is more than enough of a selling point for us.
Hong Kong director John Woo’s Hard Boiled stars Tony Leung as an undercover agent and Chow Yun-fat as a cop and sees the pair team up to take down a notorious mobster. Released in 1992, it was Woo’s last Hong Kong movie before his transition to Hollywood. The impact of kung-fu movies on The Matrix is undeniable when you take a look at the choreography of any of the fight scenes, and where better to start watching the genre than a legendary filmmaker like Woo?
Loosely based on the Philip K. Dick short story of the same name, Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report stars Tom Cruise as the head of the “precrime” police department. In this version of the future, psychics provide foreknowledge of criminal activity and perpetrators are apprehended before they have actually done anything – and if there’s anyone who can do a sci-fi blockbuster (aside from the Wachowskis), it’s Spielberg. Colin Farrell and Samantha Morton also star.
The Wachowskis’ directorial debut, Bound, was released in 1996. The movie follows a woman (Jennifer Tilly) trapped in a relationship with her mafia boyfriend (Joe Pantoliano) has an affair with an ex-con (Gina Gershon), and the pair hatch a plan to steal $2 million of mob money. Unlike their subsequent movies, Bound takes inspiration from the film noir genre rather than sci-fi, and the sisters’ cited the work of Billy Wilder, the director of Double Indemnity and Sunset Boulevard, as inspiration.
Released in 1927, Metropolis is thought to be one of the first feature-length sci-fi movies, so this is a must-see for any science fiction buff. Directed by Fritz Lang, the silent movie documents the efforts of two characters, Freder (Gustav Fröhlich) and Maria (Brigitte Helm), to bring the different classes together in their dystopian city. Metropolis was a mighty feat of filmmaking – it took 17 months to film, and cost the equivalent of €19,000,000 in modern currency.
Released in 1988, this anime movie is set in a dystopian version of Tokyo in the year 2019. Directed by Katsuhiro Otomo and based on his manga of the same name, it follows the leader of a biker gang whose childhood friend gains telekinetic powers after a motorcycle accident and threatens to destabilize the military rule of the city. John Gaeta, who worked on the visual effects in The Matrix, credited Katsuhiro as the artistic inspiration for the movie’s “bullet time” scenes, when the action is slowed down.
Directed by the Wachowskis and released in 2008, Speed Racer is based on the manga originally published in the ’60s (and its subsequent anime adaptation). Unlike their other Japanese-inspired work, however, this movie is an action-comedy and strikes a much lighter tone than much of the sisters’ other movies. The live-action adaptation stars Emile Hirsch as the title character, a young and talented car racer, while Christina Ricci plays his girlfriend Trixie and John Goodman and Susan Sarandon star as his parents.
Terry Gilliam’s 1985 movie takes place in a dystopian future where humanity is over-reliant on (poorly maintained) machines. Jonathan Pryce plays Sam Lowery, a man looking for a woman who appears in his dreams. Brazil is a more satirical and humorous take on the genre than The Matrix, though (as you might expect from a member of Monty Python), with the cast also including comic actors like Robert De Niro, Bob Hoskins, and Michael Palin.
A Scanner Darkly
Another Philip K. Dick adaptation, A Scanner Darkly stars Robert Downey Jr., Woody Harrelson, Winona Ryder, and Neo himself, Keanu Reeves. Directed by Richard Linklater and released in 2006, this is another dystopian tale, this time set in the midst of a drug addiction epidemic where everyone is constantly under police surveillance. The movie’s distinct animation style was achieved by shooting the actors digitally and then animating the original footage frame by frame.
Well, this list should be titled 14 movies and a TV show – Sense8 is the Wachowskis’ foray into television. It follows eight strangers around the world who were all born on the same day and suddenly find that they share a mental and emotional connection. The series aired on Netflix for two seasons between 2015 and 2017, before it was cancelled, leaving the story on a cliffhanger. After criticism from fans, Netflix commissioned a two-and-a-half-hour final episode in 2018 to bring the series to a close.
Need a catch-up on everything that’s happened in The Matrix so far? Then be sure to check out our The Matrix explained recap. And for something new to watch, check out our picks of the best sci-fi movies of all time.