This 1999 cyberpunk science fiction was the birth child of Laurence and Andrew Wachowski (now Lana and Lilly). The Matrix was the second movie made by the then brothers. Like with many of their other films, they wrote and directed this one.
The story follows a hacker who goes by “Neo” and we soon discover that he, like the rest of humanity, lives in a simulated reality known as “The Matrix”. Once freed from it, he joins a rebellion against intelligent machines using humans as energy sources.
With great performances and excellent references to other works, The Matrix takes not only the characters but the audience on a trip down the rabbit hole, into discovering the reality of this dystopian future. The film is set in 1999 but likely takes place in 2199, where machines have advanced exponentially.
With actors such as Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Hugo Weaving, and Carrie-Anne Moss, it is no wonder that the film was applauded for its incredible action sequences and use of “bullet time”. The film was made on a reasonably substantial $63 million, and it managed to obtain a box office of $465.3 million, winning four Academy Awards.
Similar to this film are the sequels of the film, Blade Runner (1982 and 2017), and Equilibrium (2002). So stick around as we get into 25 similar movies to The Matrix.
1. The Matrix Reloaded
Following on from the first film’s success, the Wachowskis continued with the franchise, and once again, they wrote and directed this film. Released in 2003, it was a much-anticipated follow-up from the first movie. The second film was video games and short animations, which complimented it.
In this second installment, we again follow Neo, along with the other rebels, including their leader, Morpheus. It is estimated that they only have seventy-two hours at their disposal until the last remaining pocket of real-world humans is attacked. Zion, as the place is called, comes under attack, and Morpheus prays that his hopes of the One fulfilling the Oracles prophecy will come true.
Once again, we have Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Hugo Weaving, and Carrie-Anne Moss reprising their roles. Other noteworthy additions are Gloria Foster as the Oracle, and Helmut Bakaitis as the Architect.
The film won awards for visual effects and stunts performed and did well with the critics. It was an absolute hit with audience members, and with a budget of $127 million, it managed to garner a total box office of $739.4 million.
2. The Matrix Revolutions
Only six months after the highly successful second installment of the franchise came the third movie, The Matrix Revolutions. Once again, the Wachowskis were the ones who wrote and directed this film, and this certainly ensured that the fans of the series got the same high-quality content to which they had grown accustomed.
In this film, Neo (Keanu Reeves) is trapped in Mobil Ave, a subway that is a transition zone between the Machine City and the Matrix. He encounters a “family” of programs who tell him that the subway is controlled by one known as the Trainman.
It has also reached a point where Agent Smith, one of the programs, has become too powerful even for the machines to control, and Neo is the only hope of defeating him. Both the fate of the Matrix and the real world is in jeopardy, and the One finally has to grow into his full potential to overcome all and save the day.
The film received mixed reviews among critics, and some found the ending to be slightly ambiguous. Overall, it did pretty well at the box office, managing to pull in $427.3 million from a budget of $110 million. Another film is on the cards, The Matrix Resurrections, scheduled to be released in December 2021.
3. Blade Runner
The first Blade Runner came out way back in 1982, but it is still definitely worth a watch if you have not seen it yet. It was based on the book by Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? If you are a science fiction fan, this is an absolute classic you need to see.
The film was directed by Ridley Scott and starred big names such as Harrison Ford (who took the leading role), Sean Young, Rutger Hauer, and Edward James Olmos.
The movie also has a dystopian setting like The Matrix. It follows Rick Deckard (Ford), who, in the year 2019, has to hunt down synthetic humans, who are known as replicants, bio-engineered by Tyrell Corporation to work on space colonies.
This production initially underperformed, and on a budget of $30 million, only managed to scrape in a mere $41.5 million. However, with this being said, it has since become a cult classic.
4. Blade Runner 2049
Roughly a full thirty-five years later, a sequel to the original Blade Runner was released in 2017. It held much of the same neo-noir science fiction elements which the first carried but was praised for the incredible visual aspects of the film.
Directed by Denis Villeneuve, the film stars Harrison Ford once more, along with Ryan Gosling (in the lead this time), with Sylvia Hoeks, Ana de Armas, Robin Wright, and Jared Leto in a supporting role. Ford and Edward James Olmos returned to their original parts.
In this follow-up, Gosling plays the role of K, a replicant (or “blade runner”) who has unearthed a secret that could destabilize society and the forward momentum of civilization as a whole. The critics loved the film, praising almost every element of it. However, it performed at a subpar level at the box office, making only $260.5 million on a budget of $150–$185 million.
This 2002 science fiction action film was written and directed by Kurt Wimmer, and has a similar sort of stylized feel as The Matrix. Our leads in this film are played by Christian Bale, Taye Diggs, and Emily Watson.
John Preston (Bale) is the protagonist in this hard-hitting action bonanza. We follow him as he goes from being an enforcement officer in a future where feelings and any form of artistic expression are entirely banned. Every day people are administered psychoactive drugs that suppress emotions. All changes, though, when Preston misses a dose and is faced with having to now remain undetected.
The critics were torn about this film, some not been impressed while others praised it, but also pointed out that it may have stolen a lot from other similar movies. At the box office, it performed dismally and only managed to make $5.3 million, after having spent a budget of $20 million. That aside, though, this film, in our opinion, is a lesser-known gem and is a must-watch for fans of The Matrix.
6. Nineteen Eighty-Four
Based on the novel of the same name, by George Orwell, this film came out in the year 1984. It is a dystopian science fiction, and although machines do not oppress the people of this world, “Big Brother” is certainly watching their every move.
Michael Radford wrote and directed the film, and it starred John Hurt, Suzanna Hamilton, Richard Burton, and Cyril Cusack. It follows Winston Smith (Hurt), a low-ranking individual living in London, which is part of Oceania. He lives under a totalitarian state that seeks to control the citizens’ every move and their thoughts.
It won two Evening Standard British Film Awards and was nominated for a BAFTA Award, for Best Art Direction. The film was made for £5.5 million and returned a relatively small $8.4 million at the box office.
7. Brave New World
This 1998 movie went straight to television and was loosely based on the novel of the same name, by Aldous Huxley. The film is about a futuristic society where science and efficiency are lorded above all else. Emotions and individuality are conditioned out of people from childhood, and there is a mantra that dictates that “everyone belongs to everyone else”.
For those who loved the notion of Neo fighting to bring down the powers that be and to find a means of escaping the Matrix, this film is sure to be of interest to you, even though it may be somewhat dated. The movie stars Peter Gallagher and Leonard Nimoy, among others.
It is also a film that lends a lot from previous works, and like the book, which was its inspiration; it is somewhat controversial and examines topics that many may find a bit unsettling. There was also a series that was spawned in 2020, carrying the same name.
8. Fahrenheit 451
Fahrenheit 451 is a remake of the original 1966 film by François Truffaut. This newer take on the film, like the first, was based on the short 1953 dystopian novel by Ray Bradbury. We find ourselves in a future America, where we watch a “fireman”, Guy Montag, who lives in a world where books are illegal, has the job of burning them.
Montag, played by Michael B. Jordan, one day encounters a young girl, who makes him question his current reality, and soon things begin to change for him. Accompanying Jordan are Michael Shannon, Lilly Singh, Sofia Boutella, Martin Donovan, and Grace Lynn Kung.
The film, which HBO Home Video released, won a Producers Guild Award. However, it received a mixed reception among critics, and some said that the film did not pack the same fiery glare as the novel did. However, the performances are considered strong, and the remake is definitely a sleeker and much welcomed alternative to the original.
9. V For Vendetta
V for Vendetta is a dystopian action film, with heavy political elements to it. As with others on this list, it is not machines that are the suppressors, but instead man. The movie came out in 2005 and was directed by James McTeigue, but was written by the Wachowskis.
With the help of a few others, one lone person is trying to make a stand against a tyrannical government. In this case, V (Hugo Weaving – who played Agent Smith in The Matrix) is trying to oppose the neo-fascist totalitarian regime, which rules the United Kingdom.
He is a masked anarchist who is trying to start a revolution. Joining him in his efforts is a young woman, Evey Hammond (Natalie Portman). Trying to thwart V’s plans, though, is a detective (Stephen Rea) who is desperate to put a stop to him.
Most critics found the movie to be impressive and immensely thought-provoking. Because of its heavy political commentary, it raised questions among some viewers and is undoubtedly a movie that gets you thinking. It was faired satisfactorily at the box office and made $132.5 million on a budget of $50 million.
10. The Invasion
A 2007 science fiction film, with definite horror elements, The Invasion was directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel. The Wachowskis wrote certain scenes within the film, and James McTeigue directed it.
In this unnerving and heart-racing remake, we follow a psychiatrist, Dr. Carol Bennell, who soon realizes that people around her are turning into emotionless beings, following a space shuttle crash. The film was initially intended to be a remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, which came out in 1956.
This is the fourth film adaptation of the novel The Body Snatchers, which was published in 1955. The leads of this adaptation are played by Nicole Kidman (Bennell) and Daniel Craig, who plays Dr. Ben Driscoll.
The film was criticized for not having enough psychological substance; however, if you enjoyed the action scenes and the continual wondering of how Neo would sidestep Agent Smith, then you should be intrigued by this film. Unfortunately, it performed relatively poorly at the box office and only managed to turn a budget of $65 million, into a return of $40.2 million.
11. Terminator Salvation
Terminator Salvation acts as a sequel to Terminator 3 (2003) and is a prequel to The Terminator (1984). It can be confusing, we know; however, what is great about this film is that it could be watched in isolation from the rest of the films because of its placement within the franchise and its “standalone” plot.
It is considered military science fiction, action film, and much like The Matrix, it is a battle of humans versus machines. The only difference here is that all the action takes place within the “real world”.
This post-apocalyptic film was set in 2018 and is centered on the ongoing war between Skynet and the small pockets of human Resistance. John Connor (Christian Bale) is a central character within the film, and we watch as his story and that of the cyborg Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) collide.
The film received divided reviews, with many of those who enjoyed the original movies saying how it was not quite the same without Arnold Schwarzenegger. On a rather sizable budget of $200 million, it got a return of $371.4 million.
If you like the idea of people having their minds played with as in The Matrix, you will without a doubt find Inception (2010) to be to your liking. This film is a science fiction action film with excellent pacing and ensures that the viewer is paying attention the entire time, lest you miss something.
The movie was written and directed by Christopher Nolan, and the end product proves his prowess. The story centers on a professional thief, Dom Cobb, who steals, not money, but rather information from people’s minds by infiltrating their subconscious. He has now been offered a chance to clear his name by not stealing, but implanting an idea into someone’s mind.
The cast comprises Leonardo DiCaprio (Cobb), Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Elliot Page, Marion Cotillard, Tom Hardy, Cillian Morphy, and Michael Caine. Together they managed to pull off a film that won four Academy Awards and was a total box office hit, making $836.8 million from a $160 million budget.
13. Cloud Atlas
This is another film where the Wachowskis were in the director’s chair, along with Tom Tykwer. Released in 2012, this story was based on the book by the same name, which was published in 2004. It is an intricate web of stories that span hundreds of years; however, recurring characters indicate the idea of reincarnation within this universe.
The story does not have people trapped by machines in a computer-based reality but instead looks at the idea of souls traveling through time and how a person’s actions affect others’ lives. A person in one life can be a killer, but the hero of the day in another. Actions ripple through time and cause changes that cannot be witnessed at first glance.
The critics were completely torn over this movie, as some placed it on the list of best films, and others thought it one of the worst. However, we found that the cast, including Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, and Doona Bae, portrayed genuinely memorable characters.
The return on this film was not fantastic, though, and we believe this may be because audience members may have felt it too much to process all at once. On a budget of approximately $100 million, it saw a slight return of $130.5 million.
14. 12 Monkeys
This is an older film, which was released in 1995, and was directed by Terry Gilliam. The film was inspired by a 1962 short film, La Jetée, by Chris Marker. This science fiction story is about a deadly virus released in 1996 and annihilates most of the human population. In 2035, James Cole is sent back in time to help scientists develop a cure before it is too late.
This time the machines are not the threat, but it is an invisible enemy; however, as it often goes, our hero’s journey is not made any easier due to the actions of fellow humans. Bruce Willis plays Cole, and joining him are Brad Pitt, Madeleine Stowe, David Morse, and Christopher Plummer.
The film, which received a box office of $168.8 million from a budget of $29.5 million, achieved critical acclaim and saw Brad Pitt winning a Golden Globe Award for his performance and the film being nominated for other awards.
15. 2010: The Year We Make Contact
This 1984 film, also known simply as 2010, was the sequel to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. It was directed by Peter Hyams, who also wrote, produced, and shot it. It is incredibly well acted, filmed, and packed with action, with the element of devious robots, in the form of HAL 9000.
The film stars Roy Scheider, Bob Balaban, Helen Mirren, and John Lithgow. We follow along as American and Russian astronauts make their way to Jupiter to try and uncover what happened to the first ship that made the journey. Additional to being a story in its own right, it helps to answer some of those questions left unresolved by the previous film.
The movie received positive reviews from critics and was welcomed by fans of the first movie. It was also nominated for five Academy Awards. At the box office, it managed to rake in a fair $40.4 million from a budget of $28million.
Danny Boyle directed this 2007 film. It is a slightly different type of science fiction to The Matrix as it has strong psychological thriller elements. However, as seen in The Matrix, we are faced with a narrative that looks at how individuals’ actions can affect the entire human race.
The plot is relatively simple at first glance as it revolves around a group of astronauts, in the year 2057, who is on a mission to reignite our dying sun. The cast consists of some now rather big names such as Cillian Murphy, Rose Byrne, Chris Evans, Michelle Yeoh, Troy Garity, and Cliff Curtis.
It was a relative success with the critics; however, the $40 million budget only received a return of $32 million for some strange reason.
If you have not seen this 2009 film, by James Cameron, yet, then it is a must-watch for those who enjoyed the stunning visual effects, excellent action sequences, and giant robots of The Matrix. It is labeled as an epic science fiction film and certainly delivers on this front.
This film takes place somewhere in the 22nd century when humans have colonized the moon, Pandora, of a giant planet. The reason for them being there is to mine a highly valuable material known as unobtanium. We follow a disabled former Marine, Jake Sully, who takes his brother’s place in the Avatar program, and we witness his interactions with the Na’Vi locals.
The cast includes Sam Worthington (Sully), Zoe Saldana, Michelle Rodriguez, Stephen Lang, and Sigourney Weaver. Together they were a part of a project which managed to turn a budget of $237 million into, believe it or not, $2.847 billion.
This 2009 film is one of those lesser-known and somewhat underrated films that any fan of The Matrix will enjoy. It is a science fiction movie by Duncan Jones and is his directorial debut. Although there are no heavy action sequences and the likes, Moon offers more thought-provoking elements.
We are faced with a character, Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell), experiencing a personal crisis as his time spent alone, mining helium-3 on the moon is drawing to an end. His only companion is a robot, voiced by Kevin Spacey. Things seem to be going smoothly, but as the film progresses, Sam begins to unravel, and we find more than we first perceived.
The film was made on a minuscule budget of $5 million and made back an equally small $9.8 million, but it received rave reviews from critics.
19. I, Robot
This list would not be complete without I, Robot, which came out in 2004 and was directed by Alex Proyas. Although it shares the name of the book by Isaac Asimov, the film only lends suggestions from it. Although robots do not run the world, this idea is not far off.
We follow Detective Del Spooner (Will Smith), investigating the supposed suicide of U.S. Robotics founder, Alfred Lanning. Spooner believes that the act was murder and that a robot is behind it.
Other members of the cast are Bridget Moynahan, James Cromwell, Bruce Greenwood, and Chi McBride. Although the film was praised for the performances and the visual effects earned it a nomination for an Academy Award, the overall plot was put under scrutiny. Overall the $120 million budget made a decent $347.2 million.
20. War Of The Worlds
This 2005 science fiction action film was directed by Steven Spielberg and deserves a space on this list. Although the threat is otherworldly, the aliens utilize advanced robotics to further their invasion of the Earth.
The film follows a dock worker who has to look after and protect his children as he attempts to reunite them with their mother; while the Earth is under attack from alien life forms which use giant war machines to ravage cities.
The lead role was given to Tom Cruise, and with him are Dakota Fanning, Miranda Otto, Tim Robbins, and Justin Chatwin. There is also narration by the renowned Morgan Freeman.
The production received 3 Academy Award nominations and primarily favorable reviews amongst critics. The box office return also reflected positively, bringing in $603.9 million off of a budget of $132 million.
Neill Blomkamp directed this 2015 dystopian science fiction action film. It is set in a world where robots are used as law enforcers, and human greed and hunger for power are also at play.
The film was both set and filmed in Johannesburg, South Africa, and we follow the story of a law enforcement robot that is captured and then taught by a pair of gangsters, as they attempt to use it to satisfy their own selfish desires.
Critics had mixed feelings about this film, some agreeing that it had merit, especially in terms of its visual effects, but others felt it was “clunky” and directionless. At the box office, it returned a reasonable $102.1 million from a budget of $49 million.
22. Ex Machina
This 2014 science fiction psychological thriller was written and directed by Alex Garland. It is unlike The Matrix, where the protagonist is faced with a seemingly unstoppable battalion of robots. Instead, we follow a programmer invited by the company’s CEO to come and witness his intelligent humanoid robot.
The movie has a somewhat slow start, but it is definitely worth the wait once things start to turn against the CEO, Nathan Bateman, and our protagonist, Caleb Smith. When one tries to play God and create a being of their own, things are not likely to turn out as expected.
The cast is small, comprising of Domhnall Gleeson, Sonoya Mizuno, Alicia Vikander, and Oscar Isaac. Overall it received rave reviews from critics and audience members alike, and although there is little in the way of heavy action sequences, its ideas were praised. With a budget of $15 million, it made a return of $36.9 million.
23. The Truman Show
Okay, now stick with us on this one. Yes, it is not a science fiction film, and no, it is not an action, but the concept of living a life that is not real or organic is what ties this one to The Matrix.
This 1998 psychological comedy-drama that Peter Weir directed is riveting. The protagonist in this movie is played by Jim Carrey, Truman Burbank, who is a man that has grown up living an ordinary life. Little does he know that he lives on a large set and is actually the star of The Truman Show.
Along with Carrey are Laura Linney, Natascha McElhone, Noah Emmerich, and Holland Taylor. Together they pulled off a film that received numerous accolades and managed to turn a movie with a budget of $60 million into a reasonable return of $264.1 million.
Speed is a 1994 film that stars Keanu Reeves and is directed by Jan de Bont, this being his feature film directorial debut. The movie is an action thriller, and although there are no robots threatening humanity, there is a crazed bomber who has rigged a bus to explode, if it drops below 50 miles per hour.
Along for the ride are Sandra Bullock, Joe Morton, Dennis Hopper, and Jeff Daniels. The film received incredibly high ratings and was commended for being very suspenseful and causing one to honestly sit on the edge of one’s seat.
It did just as well at the box office and managed to turn a mere $30 million budget into a grand $350.4 million.
25. District 9
As with Chappie, this film was directed by Neill Blomkamp, but here, the reviews were more favorable. It is an adaptation of Blomkamp’s own 2006 short film, Alive in Joburg. The threat here is not robots, but rather aliens who have made their home in Johannesburg after their ship comes to a halt over the city.
The actual monsters here, though, are quite arguably not the alien race, but rather human beings. The movie tackles social segregation and xenophobia issues and is presented, in part, as found footage. The setting is an alternate 1982, and we follow an alien, Christopher Johnson, who is trying to leave Earth with his son until he encounters a bureaucrat named Wikus van der Merwe.
The film stars Sharlto Copley, David James, and Jason Cope. It received four Academy Award nominations and managed to gross $210.8 million, on a budget of $30 million.
IMDB: Brave New World