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The Matrix Reviews

movie reviews matrix

The Wachowskis proceed to turn the world as we know it into a virtual reality landscape with a 20th century tech-noir look (lit with a sickly green hue, like the glow of an old IBM computer screen) and the physics of a video game.

Full Review | Sep 9, 2023

movie reviews matrix

A $60 million, high-tech assault on the senses and a pretentious insult to the mind.

Full Review | Jul 15, 2023

movie reviews matrix

A cyberpunk thriller that's so much fun to watch, it could single-handedly reboot the genre.

Full Review | Jul 13, 2023

The Wachowskis seem to be saying that while state-of-the-art effects speak for themselves, loud and clear, there's still room amid all the kicking and shooting and shouting for the carefully observed human emotion.

movie reviews matrix

Though The Matrix ultimately overdoses on gloom-and-doom grunge, over-elaborate cool and especially running time, it's just clever enough to enable [the Wachowskis] to nix the sophomore jinx following 1996's Bound.

Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4 | Jul 13, 2023

movie reviews matrix

I know almost nothing of the intricate techniques that make The Matrix as eye-filling as it is brain-numbing, but I can tell you that... [its visuals] are wondrous to behold.

movie reviews matrix

If you're looking for a good spring fix of existentialist sci-fi, look no further than The Matrix -- then do everything you can to look deeper than the skin-tight surface.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/5 | Jul 13, 2023

Although it's sometimes too confounding for its own good and a little heavy on the Zen-inspired techno-babble, The Matrix is a consistently absorbing assault on the senses.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/5 | Jul 13, 2023

movie reviews matrix

There's more form than content in The Matrix, but Bill Pope's swooping, noir-inflected cinematography is wonderfully complemented by Owen Paterson's inventive production design, a great soundtrack and the best fight choreography this side of Hong Kong.

movie reviews matrix

Give [the Wachowskis] an A for effort and three A's for those effects. The Matrix is a dazzlingly original visual adventure.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/4 | Jul 13, 2023

movie reviews matrix

Casting the robotic Reeves as the hope of humanity may be this oppressively long, self-satisfied movie's funniest gag, but it doesn't really make the game any fun. It means we get stuck with the least interesting player.

Full Review | Original Score: 1/4 | Jul 13, 2023

movie reviews matrix

The Matrix's pleasures are considerable, but they're all purely visceral, too, lacking the mythology that would have elevated the movie. The movie is best taken as the first entry in a brand-new genre: post-modern sci-fi pulp.

How could filmmakers who are so skilled and imaginative lose themselves (and us) in what feels like a college stab at Aldous Huxley metaphysics?

A futuristic paranoia extravaganza, it would seem to have far more appeal to an artificial intelligence than it would to human beings and other carbon-based life forms.

Full Review | Original Score: 2/5 | Jul 13, 2023

An interminable, sterile, exercise in cinematographic onanism. [Full review in Spanish]

Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/5 | Jul 13, 2023

movie reviews matrix

Like last year's Dark City, the effects and storyline of The Matrix plow through enough fresh territory to make it worth seeing.

Full Review | Original Score: B | Jul 13, 2023

Visually, at least, The Matrix more than lives up to its billing. Writer-directors [the Wachowskis] seem to literally bring the screen to life with action scenes that define the word kinetic.

movie reviews matrix

The Matrix isn't a film that is acted, exactly, but Reeves and Fishburne are both just swell and Weaving is a lot of fun as bad Agent Smith. And some of the small ideas are intriguing ones. They're the stuff of which sci-fi classics are made.

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/5 | Jul 13, 2023

movie reviews matrix

It's rare, and kind of touching, really, to see a lushly financed studio spectacular work so hard to keep everyone's attention. And with enough symbolism to keep online chat rooms busier than the day Babylon 5 was cancelled.

With pounding assurance, The Matrix scores as a real triumph of technical special-effects-driven filmmaking. Sad, though, that the Wachowskis end up letting the machines run away with the show.

Neo and Trinity stand in front of burning wreckage in The Matrix Resurrections.

Filed under:

The astonishing, angry Matrix Resurrections deals with what’s real in a world where nothing is

A furious Lana Wachowski fights back with a love story

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[ Ed. note: Minor spoilers for The Matrix Resurrections follow.]

The story: A man named Thomas is told that the world is not what he thought it to be, and despite the passion of the messenger and the void in his own life, he refuses to believe. He wants to see for himself. He wants, as the Gospel of John recounts, to feel the wounded flesh of the resurrected Christ, to feel where the nails were hammered into his hands. In his doubt, he becomes a myth, the first man to doubt the gospel, only to believe there is truth there when he’s standing in front of the gospel’s corporeal form.

Another version of the story: A man named Thomas Anderson lives a respectable life at the end of the 20th century, a gifted programmer at a nondescript software company. Everything is as it should be, and yet there is a void in him. Messengers find him and tell him his suspicion is correct, that this world is an illusion, yet he refuses to believe. Not until he takes a pill and wakes up in a nightmare, where he, along with everyone else he thought he knew, is plugged into a machine from birth until death, living in a simulation he never doubted until he could feel the wounds in his own flesh, where the machines jacked him into a digital world called the Matrix. Over the next 22 years, Mr. Anderson’s story in The Matrix becomes a different, newer myth, disseminated through the burgeoning internet and refracted through various subcultures. Depending on which set of eyes it encountered, the story’s symbolism and themes took on new meanings, some thoughtful and enlightening, others strange and sinister.

The Matrix Resurrections ’ third version of this story: Once again, there is Keanu Reeves’ Thomas Anderson, a gifted programmer who suspects his world is wrong, somehow. Once again, he is contacted by people claiming to confirm his suspicions. Once again, he refuses to believe. For a little while, the story seems the same, to the point where it doesn’t seem worth telling. Yet the world it’s being told to — our world, the one where we’ve returned to see a new film called The Matrix for the first time since 2003’s The Matrix Revolutions — is very different. In the final days of 2021, Thomas, just like those watching him, has much more to doubt. And Resurrections finds its meaning.

Directed by Lana Wachowski from a script she co-wrote with David Mitchell and Aleksandar Hemon, The Matrix Resurrections is about doing the impossible. On a very basic level, it’s about the insurmountable and inherently cynical task of making a follow-up to the Matrix trilogy, one that breaks technical and narrative ground the way the first film did. On a thematic one, it’s an agitprop romance, one of the most effective mass media diagnoses of the current moment that finds countless things to be angry about, and proposes fighting them all with radical, reckless love. On top of all that, it is also a kick-ass work of sci-fi action — propulsive, gorgeous, and yet still intimate — that revisits the familiar to show audiences something very new.

Reloading, but not repeating

Thomas Anderson stands in front of a torn projection of Trinity from the Matrix in The Matrix Resurrections.

The Matrix Resurrections soars by echoing something old. A familiarity with The Matrix and its sequels, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions , comes in handy when entering the new film, as the first task Wachowski, Mitchell, and Hemon go about resolving in Resurrections is extricating Thomas Anderson — better known as Neo — from his fate in Revolutions . Slowly, they reveal how Neo, seemingly deceased alongside his love and partner Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), may or may not have survived to once again become Thomas Anderson, a blank slate who has trouble telling what’s real and what is not.

This Thomas Anderson is also a programmer, but now a rockstar of game development, responsible for the most popular video game trilogy ever made: The Matrix. These games are effectively the same as the Matrix film trilogy that exists in our world, a story about a man named Neo who discovers that he is living in a dream world controlled by machines, and that he is The One destined to help humanity defeat them.

Like Lana Wachowski, who co-created the Matrix films with her sibling Lilly decades ago, Thomas is asked to make a sequel to the Matrix trilogy, one that his parent company — also devilishly named Warner Bros. — will make with or without their input. So, as Thomas goes about his task, his reality takes on an M.C. Escher-esque level of circuitousness. Was the Matrix trilogy a series of games of his making? Or did they really happen, and he is once again a prisoner of the Matrix? Why is there a woman named Tiffany (Carrie-Anne Moss) in this world with him, one who strongly resembles the deceased Trinity of his fiction? Wachowski layers these questions in disorienting montage with voyeuristic angles, presenting Thomas’ presumed reality with just enough remove to make the viewer uncomfortable, and cause them to doubt, as Thomas does.

Casting the previous films as in-world video games allows The Matrix Resurrections to function as a refreshingly heavy-handed rebuke of the IP-driven reboot culture that produced the film, where the future is increasingly viewed through the franchise lenses of the past, trapping fans in corporate-controlled dream worlds where their fandom is constantly rewarded with new product. That video games are the chosen medium for The Matrix Resurrections ’ satire is icing on the cake: an entire medium defined by the illusion of choice, a culture built around the falsehood that megacorporations care about what their customers think when they have the data to show that every outrage du jour will still result in the same record-breaking profits.

As one of Thomas’s colleagues bluntly puts it: “I’m a geek. I was raised by machines.”

Bugs in the system

Jessica Henwick as Bugs in The Matrix Resurrections

The opening act of The Matrix Resurrections is wonderfully confounding, a delicious way to recreate the unmooring unreality of the original to an audience that has likely seen, or felt its influence, countless times. Yet as it replicates, it also diverges. This is not, as the hacker Bugs (Jessica Henwick) notes early on, the story we know.

Bugs is our window into what’s new in Resurrections , a young and headstrong woman dedicated to finding the Neo that her generation knows only as myth. Her zealotry puts her in hot water with her elders; outside of the Matrix, humanity has eked out a small but thriving post-apocalyptic life, resting on the uneasy treaty between man and machine that Neo brokered at the end of the original trilogy. By constantly hacking into the Matrix to find Neo, Bugs threatens that peace — yet it’s a risk that Bugs and her ragtag crew (which includes a phenomenal Yahya Abdul-Mateen II in a role that’s not quite who viewers think he is) feel is worth taking. Because despite the war fought to free humanity from machine enslavement, much of humanity is still choosing to remain in the Matrix. The real world being real is not reason enough for anyone to wake up from the dream world.

But the hope of rescuing Neo is only half of the story. Wachowski makes a dazzling pivot halfway through The Matrix Resurrections , one that underlines a focal shift from individual freedom to human connection: The Resistance learns that it may be possible to free Trinity again as well, although by means never tried before. It’s a mission that isn’t likely to succeed, but in this strange new future, it’s the only one worth living and dying for. In pivoting to a mission to save the theoretical Trinity, Resurrections takes the messaging of the original film a step further. It’s not enough to free your mind; in fact, it’s worthless if you don’t unplug in the interest of connecting and loving those around you.

Thomas Anderson walks through a city street as it devolves into code in The Matrix Resurrections.

This back half gear-shifts into something much more straightforward, and frankly, it whips. It’s The Matrix as a heist movie. Because of this genre pivot, Resurrections ’ action takes on a different flavor from that of its predecessors. While weighty, satisfying martial arts standoffs are still in play, they’re not the centerpiece, as “Thomas” and “Tiffany” are the heart of the film, played by actors 20 years older and a little more limited in their choreography. Instead, The Matrix Resurrections chooses to dazzle with gorgeous widescreen set-pieces, big brawls, and visual effects that once again astonish while looking spectacularly real. Wachowski and her co-writers split the action as Bugs and her crew — who don’t get enough screen time but all make a terrific impression — race to find where their heroes may be hidden in the real world, and “Thomas” tries to get “Tiffany” to remember the love they once shared. All of the heady philosophy that these movies are known for is put into direct action, as the machines show off the ways they’ve changed the Matrix in an effort to not just keep a Neo from rescuing a Trinity, but to imprison him again.

In this sequence and throughout, The Matrix Resurrections relishes in being a lighter, more self-aware film than its predecessors, a movie about big feelings rendered beautifully. Its score, by Johnny Klimek and Tom Tykwer, reprises iconic motifs from original Matrix composer Don Davis’ work while introducing shimmery, recursive sequencing, a sonic echo to go with the visual one. While legendary cinematographer Bill Pope is also among the talent that doesn’t return this time around, the team of Daniele Massaccesi and John Toll bring a more painterly approach to Resurrections . Warm colors invade scenes from both the Matrix and the real world; the latter looks more vibrant than ever without the blue hues that characterized it in the original trilogy, while its digital counterpart has now changed to the point where it’s painfully idyllic, a world of bright colors and sunlight that is difficult to leave.

Embodying those changes is Jonathan Groff as a reawakened Smith, Neo’s dark opposite within the Matrix. Groff, who steps in for a role indelibly portrayed by Hugo Weaving, is the audacity of The Matrix Resurrections personified: He nails a character so iconic that recasting it feels like hubris, yet also finds new shades to bring to an antagonistic role in a world where villains only appear human, when in fact they’re often ideas. And ideas are so hard to wage war against.

Systems of control

Jonathan Groff as Smith in The Matrix Resurrections

If the old Matrix films are about lies we are told, the new Matrix is about lies we choose. In spite of its questions, 1999’s The Matrix hinges on the notion that there is such a thing as objective truth, and that people would want to see it. On the cusp of 2022, objective truth is no longer agreed upon, as pundits, politicians, and tech magnates each present their vision of what’s real, and aggressively market it to the masses. Our current crisis, then, is whatever you choose it to be. You just have to choose a side in the war: one to be us, and another to be them.

“If we don’t know what’s real,” one character asks Neo, “how do we resist?”

In returning to the world she created with her sibling, Lana Wachowski makes a closing argument she may very well not get to have the last word on. The Matrix Resurrections is a bouquet of flowers thrown with the rage of a Molotov cocktail, the will to fight tempered by the choice to extend compassion. Because feelings, as the constructs that oppress humanity in the Matrix note, are much easier to control than facts, and feelings are what sway us. So what if Neo fights back with a better story? A new myth to rise above the culture war?

It doesn’t have to be a bold one. It can even be one you’ve heard before. About a man named Thomas who can’t shake the idea that there’s something wrong with the world around him, that he feels disconnected from others in a way that he was never meant to be. And when others finally tell him that he’s living in an illusion, he doesn’t quite believe them — not until he sees something, someone, for himself that reminds him of what, exactly, he is missing: that he used to be in love.

The Matrix Resurrections hits theaters and HBO Max on Dec. 22.

Review: Lana Wachowski’s ‘The Matrix Resurrections’ is a deeply felt, colorful remix

Keanu Reeves in “The Matrix Resurrections”

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The Times is committed to reviewing theatrical film releases during the COVID-19 pandemic . Because moviegoing carries risks during this time, we remind readers to follow health and safety guidelines as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local health officials .

When the Wachowski siblings, Lana and Lilly, changed the film landscape (and popular culture) forever with 1999’s “The Matrix,” a philosophical sci-fi film that questioned the very nature of existence itself, it was no surprise that Warner Bros., the studio behind the movie, asked them to make a few more. They obliged in 2003, with “The Matrix Reloaded” and “The Matrix Revolutions,” though the sequels effectively killed off the idea that we’d ever hang with Neo and Trinity again.

But the powers that be will always want more, and so a sequel to the trilogy, “The Matrix Resurrections,” arrives 18 years later. But this isn’t just another rehash. Rather, the film asks us to question the utility of sequels, reboots and the constant churn of intellectual property, especially when the original lesson of “The Matrix” was to awaken oneself to the system, and then bring the whole thing crashing down.

Lana Wachowski enthusiastically takes on this almost impossible task of plugging back into the Matrix to mine the code for new ideas. Lana’s sister Lilly sits out “The Matrix Resurrections,” but Wachowski has brought on writer David Mitchell, who wrote the novel “Cloud Atlas,” which the Wachowskis adapted to the screen in 2012 , and a writer on their Netflix series, “Sense8,” to co-write the script. The result is a swift, self-reflective, often funny and always original reimagining of the material, which sees Wachowski reassessing the existing characters and lore of “The Matrix” while embroidering the text with new ideas and details. It’s less of a reboot than a remix, and this time, it’s a bop.

Wachowski has infused the world with an exciting new cast of characters, playing roles both familiar and fresh. It feels good to be back with these beloved characters, some of whom have taken on new and, it must be said, hotter forms (looking at Jonathan Groff and Yahya Abdul-Mat een II , specifically).

The story of “The Matrix Resurrections” is indeed familiar too. A man named Thomas Anderson ( Keanu Reeves ) leads a repetitive, uninspiring life behind a desk and has the nagging feeling that there’s something else out there for him. But this time around, he’s a video game designer, the brains behind a revolutionary game called “The Matrix,” the narrative of which is essentially the first trilogy of films. The game came from his memories of his time as Neo, not that he’s necessarily aware of that. As his boss, Smith (Groff) presses Thomas and his team for a remake of the game, a new group of Matrix-hopping hackers, including the awesome Bugs (Jessica Henwick), is ripping through the code, searching for Neo. When they find Thomas and once again offer him the red pill to escape the Matrix, the renewed Neo only has one goal: go back and find his one true love, Trinity ( Carrie-Anne Moss ).

This film is all about the “re” — the reboot, remix, reimagining, reassessment, the (literal) resurrection of the man who died for our machines — and the Neo myth has influenced a whole new generation, including Bugs and her tough, androgynous, multiculti crew. The new blood brings new life to the text, which could otherwise be just a clever dig at sequel culture, but the film is also deeply earnest and deeply felt, especially when it comes to the core love story, the swooning romance between Neo and Trinity.

Wachowski brings this unapologetic earnestness and sense of pleasure to “The Matrix Resurrections,” which is also a welcome reminder that big action films can be well lit, stunningly designed and, yes, colorful too. She invites the audience to have as much fun as she’s having revisiting this world that initially defined her career, and she seems to apply her full self to this text, bringing an irreverent and infectious zeal to the resurrection. The fact that this ends with an exaltation to “paint the sky with rainbows!” tells you all you need to know about her attitude in this latest trip into the Matrix.

Walsh is a Tribune News Service film critic.

‘The Matrix Resurrections’

Rated: R, for violence and some language Running time: 2 hours, 28 minutes Playing: Starts Dec. 22 in general release; also available on HBO Max

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The Matrix Resurrections Review

Maybe we shouldn't have followed the white rabbit..

Amelia Emberwing Avatar

This is a spoiler-free review of The Matrix Resurrections, which hits theaters and HBO Max Dec. 22.

Nostalgia naysayers are often quick to trash remakes, reboots, or long-lead sequels. They call them blatant cash grabs or cheap tentpole vehicles solely meant to play into decades-old excitement. Statements like those can be easy to dismiss but, unfortunately, fans who were skeptical of another Matrix sequel are proven right when it comes to The Matrix Resurrections.

There are good parts, of course. Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss returning as Neo and Trinity is a dream come true, and the new players make delightful additions to the cast. Jonathan Groff eats up every scene he’s in as Smith, and Jessica Henwick’s Bugs might actually be the best part of Resurrections. And the weird version of Morpheus portrayed here probably wouldn’t even begin to work if it were anyone other than Yahya Abdul-Mateen II in the cartoonish suits.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say that The Matrix Resurrections is made up almost entirely of good ideas. The problem is that it’s not a good movie. It’s a bunch of individually neat ideas stacked in a trench coat like a bunch of kids trying to buy a ticket to an R-rated film. Cleverness is met with laughably bad execution at nearly every turn here.

Let’s take the story’s metaness as an example. It seems to agree with those aforementioned nostalgia naysayers, and you can tell it wants you to know that because The Matrix Resurrections straight-up tells you that it thinks reboots are silly at an impressively obnoxious clip. What’s meant to be self awareness becomes this kind of metaphorical Kool-Aid man. Enjoying your scene? Let me burst through the wall and let you know that I’m not like other sequels; I’m a cool sequel.

It’s not a cool sequel.

The Matrix Resurrections Official Trailer 2 Images

movie reviews matrix

This attempt at “deep” meta commentary seems to come at the expense of the fight scenes — something that the franchise was, up to this point, known for. We know Reeves still has the chops given the impressive fight choreography of the John Wick franchise, and all of the new players added in Resurrections have proven on-screen fight abilities. Why, then, is this huge chunk of The Matrix’s DNA missing from its sequel? The combat scenes that are present are either short-lived, laden with messy effects, or replaced with shock-and-awe antics.

What's your favorite belated sequel?

movie reviews matrix

The original cost $63 million, and both sequels came in at $150 million apiece. That in mind, it’s hard to imagine that a pretty penny wasn’t spent on Resurrections. That is to say that it is truly inexplicable that The Matrix Resurrections final scenes look the way they do, especially in comparison to the much more impressive-looking original that hit our screens over 20 years ago. Not only is there some incredibly terrible animation and effects taking place here, but there’s a moment in a warehouse where Neo is meant to be talking but it’s Smith’s mouth that’s moving in the background while Neo has his back to the camera. Movies like this go through teams of people before they reach our screens, so something so glaring making it into a major franchise sequel is impressive – but not in any kind of complimentary way.

Perhaps the only truly successful plot points within The Matrix Resurrections are Neo and Trinity’s undying love story and the film’s expansion to franchise lore. The future that the couple sacrificed themselves for in Revolutions was clearly worth fighting for, even if Neo has a hard time believing it at first. Trinity gets an opportunity to shine at the very, very end, but Resurrections makes it very difficult to celebrate this win given how terrible its final act looks and just how long it took to get to what’s meant to be a celebratory moment.

Speaking of long — long movies can be great! Provided, of course, that they justify their length. The Matrix Resurrections does not do that. Overly meta scenes and flashbacks take up so much of the two and a half-hour runtime. Fans concerned that they didn’t have time to re-binge the franchise before heading into the theater needn’t worry: You’ll be shown everything you need to remember. And then you’ll be shown stuff that you definitely do remember. And then you’ll be shown the same thing again, on a loop! Maybe director Lana Wachowski wanted this to feel like a trapped in The Matrix vibe, but it was mostly just tedious.

The Matrix Resurrections is the kind of film that will go down in cult history because it is so laughably bad. Truthfully, I can’t even say it’s unenjoyable because I spent so much of its overly long runtime giggling over how jaw-droppingly misguided the majority of it is. And, even with how rough it is, folks looking for that nostalgia will get exactly what they’re looking for. Granted, it’s exciting to see Neo and Trinity again, and the new players are exciting additions to a complicated canon. At the same time, so many good ideas (and the visual effects) are met with truly shoddy execution and an unbearable desire to be constantly meta that the best summary available is “Less than the sum of its parts.”

In This Article

The Matrix Resurrections

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The Matrix Resurrections Is a Messy, Imperfect Triumph

Portrait of Angelica Jade Bastién

After all this time, what does the blockbuster have left to offer? At its platonic ideal, a big-budget, mass-marketed movie induces pleasure. With swift and bright characterization, it allows actors to operate in a grander register, aching to fill the space of dizzying visual landscapes around them. Bombast and awe on all fronts. Maybe it’s difficult to identify an ideal blockbuster in contemporary Hollywood, drawn as it is to weak craft, characters with little interior dimension, and an understanding of representation that reduces gender, race, and sexuality to items on a marketing checklist rather than world-building attributes of a story. This is the cinematic reality into which The Matrix Resurrections enters, over 20 years after its original incarnation debuted in 1999: A universe laden with sequels and reboots and constantly updated IP. A universe in which imagination has curdled into what can most easily be bought and sold. And yet here is Lana Wachowski, pushing back against the tired form and offering audiences something fresh, curious, and funny as hell.

Teetering between a meta-reckoning with the legacy of the first trilogy and a sincere blooming of a whole new story that feels boldly romantic, Lana Wachowski’s first solo feature is a thrilling triumph. It is impossible to overstate the influence of the previous three movies — particularly 1999’s The Matrix — on American culture, launching “red pill” into dark internet circles, prompting the kids I grew up with to nonchalantly wear latex and leather in the Miami heat, forcing action films of its time to claw upward in the direction of the Wachowski sisters’ cyberpunk-inflected aesthetic, which itself pulled from a wild array of influences. The world has changed dramatically since Neo first bent out of the way of incoming bullets, and yet The Matrix Resurrections easily makes a case for its own existence. After decades of audiences attempting to slot the franchise into one category of interpretation or another, the film argues against any imagined binary to show that beauty is found between such extremes. Wachowski builds on what of the greatest and most singular aspects of the original trilogy: its queerness.

Playing with ideas of memory and nostalgia could have led Resurrections to have a self-satisfied, airless quality. Instead, it feels emotionally expansive and intellectually sly. Much of the first act works to actively critique nostalgia for nostalgia’s sake, and how it is exploited by those in control, whether machine overlords or Hollywood studios. (“Nothing comforts anxiety like a little nostalgia,” Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s Morpheus says.) Resurrections is messy and imperfect, too, often eschewing easily digestible plotting in favor of an ambitious eccentricity, a reminder that bombastic storytelling is best translated by artists who are willing to fail. From the revelatory production and set design to the warmth of the cinematography by John Toll and Daniele Massaccesi to the updated action scenes, Lana Wachowski proves how powerful a blockbuster can be in the hands of those with vision and ambition. But it’s the kind of film whose very foundation makes it tricky to discuss in depth without tracing the narrative and emotional shape of it. I recommend going into the film with an open heart, an open mind, and little knowledge of the nitty gritty turns in the story, some of which I’m about to examine. You’ve been warned.

Early in the film, inside a slick high-rise office overlooking the nearly too-perfect San Francisco skyline, a gaggle of video game developers argue about what the Matrix is an allegory for. Is it trans rights and politics? Is it capitalist exploitation? The scene has a rhythmic dexterity, as the developers volley forth opinion after opinion. It’s poised to be hilarious, and it is. Among the developers is Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves), who in this new world is a famous video-game designer who created a game called The Matrix to much acclaim. He’s a suicide survivor, having once lept from a building on a clear sunny day believing he could fly. When his business partner (Jonathan Groff) says he must design a new Matrix game despite his vowing not to, his reality starts to slip. Is he losing his mind or is the Matrix he supposedly created something more than a game?

Wachowski and co-writers David Mitchell and Aleksander Hemon play out this anxiety with a consistent intrusion of clips from the previous films, a strategy that doesn’t always work. But when it does, it’s sublime. Like in the scene where Thomas Anderson slips from this therapist’s (Neil Patrick Harris) grasp and realizes he is indeed the Neo of his video game. His memory of meeting Morpheus (Lawrence Fishburne then, Abdul-Mateen II now) is projected onto a ripped projector screen that acts as a doorway, figuratively and literally. Freed from a prison once again, Neo learns it has been 60 years since he and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) traveled to the machine city, sacrificing their lives for their revolutionary cause. He must determine: Can he free Trinity, too, or is she happy in this false new world where she is a married mother of two with a penchant for motorcycles? Neo never truly believed in himself as the One, but Trinity did. How can he be what everyone believes him to be without her?

The Matrix Resurrections might lack the ground-shaking originality of its 1999 predecessor, but it manages to chart a stunning, divergent path, philosophically and cinematically. Whereas the previous Matrix films were committed to a green-dominated, cool-toned color palette, Resurrections simmers with far greater warmth — amber-hued sunlight streaming through the real world. The fight choreography, from John Wick ’s Chad Stahelski (Reeves’s Matrix stunt double, who plays Trinity’s husband in the new film), is more chaotic and rough-hewn; bodies crash into one another haphazardly, lacking the grace and fluidity Yuen Woo-ping brought to the original movies. The costume design led by Lindsay Pugh brings back gothic sensibilities with restraint, forgoing fetish wear but remaining committed to the epic-ness of flowing silhouettes. The sets are littered once again with mirrors that glisten with thematic resonance. The film commits to granting audiences joy in ways that feel primal (exceedingly hot, well-dressed people are kicking unholy amounts of ass) and earnest (Wachowski does not abandon the previous films’ core belief in hope and community building).

That joy emanates through the cast. Harris’s naturally haughty, self-satisfied miasma works perfectly. Groff is cheeky and charismatic as a rebooted version of Agent Smith, his fight scene with Neo in an abandoned building being one of the highlights of the film. Decked in finely tailored suits the color of marigolds and deep ocean waters, Abdul-Mateen II slinks and struts with the grace of a true movie star, winking at Morpheus’s love of theatrics. (The fact that Fishburne wasn’t asked to be a part of the franchise rebirth hangs over the performance, though.) Jessica Henwick exudes hope, grounding the unexpected coalition that pins the movie together. The new actors, even when they’re playing old characters, are so much more than energetic doppelgängers of the Matrix heroes and villains who came before them, absorbing well the aesthetic differences between this reboot and the trilogy.

But for all its strengths — retreading and remixing the franchise while charting a bold new course for the canon — The Matrix Resurrections would fail if it wasn’t for the chemistry of Reeves and Moss. The former has by now solidified his place as a major movie and action star several times over, seamlessly moving from tickled bewilderment to sincere fear to absolute control on screen. Watching Moss, with her cutting gaze and sharp physicality, I can’t help but mourn for the career she deserved. Together, there is an inherent optimism — about the human spirit, about the will to overcome a narrowing force — that flits open when they share a scene. It’s along the arc of Neo and Trinity’s romance that Resurrections separates itself from its recent blockbuster brethren. Behind a meta-narrative storytelling approach and all that stylistic gleam, The Matrix Resurrections is ultimately a love story — romantic, yes, and a paean to the community necessary for that romance to blossom into resistance. Wachowski is bold enough to argue that in a strategically queer-fashioned world, where boundaries break and the limits of the human body are rejected, choosing love is still a radical decision.

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‘The Matrix Resurrections’ Review: A Pop-Subversive Sequel Smart Enough to Realize There’s No Reason for It to Exist

In returning to a trilogy that reached its natural conclusion 18 years ago, Lana Wachowski wonders, 'What if Neo had chosen the blue pill?'

By Peter Debruge

Peter Debruge

Chief Film Critic

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The Matrix Resurrections

For years, Warner Bros. has dreamed of making another “Matrix” movie, but the Wachowski siblings — architects of a cyberpunk classic whose appeal rests largely on bending rules and questioning authority — resisted the pressure, insisting they’d said everything they wanted to with the original three films. Let’s not forget: By the end of the trilogy, Trinity died, Neo sacrificed himself and the humans were freed from their virtual shackles, which means anyone hoping to continue that story had their work cut out for them.

That explains a clever moment of self-awareness early in “ The Matrix Resurrections ,” a welcome but undeniably extraneous fourth installment — more of a patch than an upgrade on the franchise that came before, reframing déjà vu not as a bug but as a feature of the brand. In said scene, employees of a San Francisco video game company sit around a corporate conference table, brainstorming how to build upon the Matrix saga. “Our beloved parent company, Warner Bros., has decided they will make a sequel to the trilogy,” one says, explaining that the studio is planning to do it “with or without” the creators.

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Well, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, or so director Lana Wachowski seems to be telling us, slyly stepping back from the dazzling infinity mirror presented in the earlier films to reveal one more layer: the real world in which we the audience reside. Sadly, that’s about as wild and/or meta as “The Matrix Resurrections” gets, while the rest could fairly be described as more of the same: more time- and gravity-defying action, more Goth-geek fashion pointers, more “free your mind” mumbo-jumbo.

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Essentially a greatest hits concert and a cover version rolled into one (complete with flashback clips to high points from past installments), the new movie is slick but considerably less ambitious in scope than the two previous sequels. Where those films set out to break sound barriers in our brains — the way “bullet time,” the highway sequence and Neo’s final battle against an apparently infinite number of Agents Smith did — this one largely eschews innovation. Rather, “Resurrections” takes comfort in the familiar, fleshing out the emotional core of a world that always felt a little hollow.

In short, Wachowski doesn’t add much to the rich mythology she and sister Lilly have established, but she’s careful not to mess it up either.

By reviving Neo ( Keanu Reeves ), Trinity ( Carrie-Anne Moss ) and a handful of other key characters (some, like Agent Smith and Morpheus, requiring new actors to step in), “Resurrections” tethers its latest iteration to the “simulation hypothesis” — the theory, given oxygen by Elon Musk, that video game technology is advancing at such a clip that odds are good you’re already living in one. The difference, compared with “Matrix 1.0”: The “sheeple” in the movie’s brave new world have that potentially liberating information, and still they choose to sleepwalk through their lives. Just like … you?

It’s been more than two decades since “The Matrix” issued the wake-up call. So what are you doing chained to whatever career/family/hobby numbs you to what really matters? Like fanboy audiences — who passively watch heroes disrupt the system, watching, rather than participating in, social reform — the humans in this latest simulation stay blind. Neo has reverted to his Thomas Anderson identity, only now, he’s head designer for WB-owned game company Deus Machina and described as a “balding nerd,” though it’s still Keanu that audiences see, sporting rock-star bangs and a surfer-guru beard.

It would’ve been much edgier to present Reeves as an aging incel with receding hair and a dandruff-speckled turtleneck — or better yet, as a self-deprecating version of himself, like the one he played in Netflix rom-com “Always Be My Maybe.” Storytelling has evolved by quantum leaps since 1999, and as futuristic as the “Matrix” franchise once felt, it all seems rather quaint today, what with the advent of “reality TV” (consider Paris Hilton’s recent claim that she’s been playing a character all along) and such ontological series as “The Good Place” and “The OA” (the latter ended with the characters crossing into a new dimension, where they’re all actors on the show we’ve been watching). “The Matrix” may have made 1982’s “Tron” look primitive by comparison, but even that franchise has evolved, leaving this one in the dust.

That’s not to say the sequel is simply “The Matrix Recycled” — although the title is every bit as apt as the more biblical-sounding one they went with, teasing (but never directly addressing) the messianic dimension of Neo’s earlier arc. Off screen, Lana Wachowski has completely reinvented herself in the interim, sharing much of that journey via Netflix’s stunning “Sense8,” whereas Thomas Anderson is stuck back in brainwashed mode, wrestling with relatively mundane midlife-crisis questions.

Self-doubts aside, Anderson drags his feet when Morpheus (now embodied by “Candyman” star Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) kicks open a door and tries to offer him the old red-pill enlightenment. Meanwhile, his shrink (Neil Patrick Harris as the Analyst) has him on a steady prescription of blue pills. And then a spunky young cyber-anarchist named Bugs (Jessica Henwick) shows up, having narrowly escaped an obvious-trap “modal,” or training exercise, where she rescues the new-and-improved Morpheus (Abdul-Mateen is great but seems green vis-à-vis the sage and sorely missed Laurence Fishburne).

Speaking of green, the phosphorescent glow that defined the trilogy (extrapolated from old-school CRT monitors) has been all but banished here. Yes, a stream of green glyphs spells out the opening titles, and the human survivors of Zion (many played by members of the “Sense8” cast) search for signs of Neo and Trinity on outdated screens. But compared with the grim and grimy “real world” spared from a Sentinel attack in “Revolutions,” the dimension where Anderson reunites with Trinity — now married with kids and going by the name Tiffany (but still played by Moss) — is rich in color and detail. Strange then that it should look so cheap, conspicuously lacking a striking visual signature.

Far removed from the shadowy film-noir vibe of the original, it’s easy to imagine humans being seduced by such a setting, especially when presented in the magic-hour glow of recent Marvel movies — and against which the grungy post-apocalyptic realm of spaceships and people pods seems less appealing than ever. That has always been the trouble with the “Matrix” movies: They insist that waking life is far worse than the illusion, asking us to care about the fate of a garbage dump where brain-jacked humans serve as an energy source for the Machines.

Of course we’d rather spend time in San Francisco — or Berlin, where shooting shifted. These days, instead of battling actor Hugo Weaving’s square-jawed man in black (the original Agent Smith appears only in flashback), Anderson works for a snappily dressed human Ken doll also named Smith (Jonathan Groff, whose good looks reinforce the notion that everything got a major aesthetic upgrade). Once Neo starts to question his reality, it’s Smith he must face off against, again. The subsequent showdown feels overly choreographed, stuck in late-20th-century Hong Kong mode, versus the brute-force fighting style we’ve since seen in Bond movies. Even Neo’s ability to stop bullets and blast energy waves from his hands pales against so many of the superhero abilities to which we’ve been desensitized.

The great irony of “The Matrix Resurrections” is that a property that was once so appealing for being cutting-edge is now being mined for its nostalgia value — what a screenwriter friend of mine has dubbed “CuisinArt,” wherein studios are forgoing fresh ideas in order to rehash everything audiences love about the past.

Lana Wachowski has said she agreed to make a “Matrix” sequel after her parents died, taking comfort in being reconnected with fictional family Neo and Trinity. Many viewers will agree, even if it would have made more sense to reboot with an all-new cast of characters. But in a world where “Space Jam” can hack into the “Matrix” IP, this far-from-radical add-on seems distractingly preoccupied with justifying its own existence, rather than seeking a way to take fans to the next level.

Reviewed at Imax, Los Angeles, Dec. 14, 2021. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 148 MIN.

  • Production: A Warner Bros. Pictures release, presented in association with Village Roadshow Pictures, Venus Castina Prods. Producers: James McTeigue, Lana Wachowski, Grant Hill. Executive producers: Garrett Grant, Terry Needham, Michael Salven, Karin Wachowski, Jesse Ehrman, Bruce Berman.
  • Crew: Director: Lana Wachowski. Screenplay: Lana Wachowski & David Mitchell & Aleksandar Hemon, based on characters created by the Wachowskis. Camera: Daniele Massaccesi, John Toll. Editor: Joseph Jett Sally. Music: Johnny Klimek & Tom Tykwer.
  • With: Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jonathan Groff, Jessica Henwick, Neil Patrick Harris, Jada Pinkett Smith, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Christina Ricci, Lambert Wilson.

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The Matrix Resurrections review: After an 18-year gap, it's time to get red-pilled again

Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss reunite for a sequel that's surprisingly romantic.

Senior Editor, Movies

movie reviews matrix

All that's old is Neo again. But before we dive back into Matrix mythology for this belated-but-welcome sequel, it's worth recalling what a lumbering mastodon the sci-fi-action genre had become by the late-1990s: Phantom Menace dullness and two killer-asteroid movies. In its moment, 1999's The Matrix vibrated with ideas, not merely "bullet time" but internet paranoia, hacker fashion, and (whoa) kung fu. Even if the movie's two sequels cribbed too much from the messianic-hero playbook, the good work was done.

Less one Wachowski (Lana directs while Lilly steps away), The Matrix Resurrections could never be as radical as the original. But credit a meta screenplay by Wachowski, David Mitchell, and Aleksandar Hemon for finding an inspired way in: Today's Thomas Anderson ( Keanu Reeves ) — older, salt-and-pepper-bearded, and lent the extra indignity of lanky Belushi hair — mopes in his San Francisco office, a game designer past his prime. His corporate overlords (Warner Bros., showing good humor) want a sequel to his classic Matrix trilogy.

Already we know something's off, even as the clues pile up: Jefferson Airplane's psychedelic "White Rabbit" on the soundtrack; a smarmy therapist ( Neil Patrick Harris ) prescribing blue pills for anxiety; flirty looks from that cute mom in the Simulatte coffeehouse, Tiffany ( Carrie-Anne Moss , just as fierce two decades on). Soon enough, another dapper Morpheus ( Yahya Abdul-Mateen II ) strolls out of a stall in the company bathroom and we're zooming into — out of? — a different reality.

It's a do-over without a full share of wonderment, but still a lot of fun. Wachowski retains a singular eye for shiny plasticity and sharp edits, even if you miss the verbal tartness of OG cast member Hugo Weaving ( Hamilton 's bitchy King George, Jonathan Groff , does what he can with a new antagonist). And like many of today's epics, there's an expositional sag in the middle.

But Resurrections does eclipse its predecessors for full-on, kick-you-in-the-heart romance: Reeves and Moss, comfortable with silences, lean into an adult intimacy, so rare in blockbusters, that's more thrilling than any roof jump (though those are pretty terrific too). Their motorbiking through an exploding city, one of them clutching the other, could be the most defiantly sexy scene of a young year. B+

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‘the matrix resurrections’: film review.

Neo is back in Lana Wachowski’s very self-referential fourth ‘Matrix’ film.

By John DeFore

John DeFore

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Matrix Resurrections

Given the peculiar nature of Lana Wachowski ’s The Matrix Resurrections and the plot’s reliance on details many will consider spoilers, it seems wise to get something out of the way: If you loved The Matrix and hated the sequels (or simply found them unsatisfying), go see this one. Have a blast. (But wear a mask.)

If you’re in the much smaller club that believes the sequels were underappreciated examples of brainy mythmaking, it’s possible Resurrections will break your heart: While it doesn’t pretend the jumbo-sized plots of those two films didn’t happen, it does jettison much of their self-importance, and feels little need to blow viewers’ minds with new ideas or technical inventions.

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Release date: December 22 (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Cast: Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jessica Henwick, Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Jada Pinkett Smith

Director: Lana Wachowski

Screenwriters: Lana Wachowski, David Mitchell, Aleksandar Hemon

It is, in other words, the kind of sequel Hollywood wants most — practically the same thing as the first, with just enough novelty to justify its existence — albeit one that thinks it can have it both ways, both bowing to and sneering at the industry’s need for constant regurgitation of familiar stories. It’s impossible to explain that sentence without revealing details of the film’s premise, so read on at your own risk.

Whatever exactly happened to Neo when he appeared to sacrifice himself at the end of film three, he’s back in the digital simulation now, living again as a two-decades-older Thomas Anderson. Anderson has become a successful video game designer whose greatest creation was (get this) a trilogy of hit games called The Matrix . Part of Anderson knows these games are a story he actually lived, but he has allowed the squares around him to convince him he’s mentally ill: He regularly sees an unnamed analyst (Neil Patrick Harris) who gives him meds (blue pills, natch) and helps talk him through the violent episodes in which he imagines the whole world is a simulated reality he needs to escape from.

Anderson hasn’t exactly left his fight against the Matrix behind — he’s written bits of code, “modals,” in which AI characters play through variations of scenes he can’t stop thinking about — but professionally, it’s his distant past. Imagine his shock when an associate tells him that “our beloved parent company, Warner Bros.” has decided it’s time to make a Matrix sequel, and is going to do it with or without Anderson’s involvement.

Something like this apparently happened in our own world: Several years ago, there was talk of a Wachowski-free reboot being written by Zak Penn, possibly to star Michael B. Jordan. Two years later plans had changed, with Lana Wachowski, sans original partner Lilly, on board to direct and cowrite.

Whatever the meaning of Lana’s go-it-alone move, or its possible relation to the film’s pairing of sole-creator Thomas with a morally and creatively suspect business partner (Jonathan Groff), there’s no misunderstanding what comes next onscreen. In a long sequence where shallow youngsters brainstorm Anderson’s new game for him, the filmmakers distance themselves from their project. They make fun of moviegoers who found the sequels’ philosophical ambitions pretentious, imagining the audience as lunkheads who just want more bullet time. And once this self-serving interlude is finished, that’s almost exactly what they give them.

In a sequence intentionally reminiscent of its counterpart in the first film, Thomas Anderson gets another chance to follow mysterious strangers out of the simulation his brain lives in. Things are a bit different with this extraction, but not too different: As the film condescendingly notes, “a little nostalgia” goes a long way to soothe anxiety in those transitioning from one reality to another. (Maybe that explains why Wachowski uses so many clips from the earlier films, needlessly illustrating Neo’s memories throughout this adventure.)

Eventually we’re with Neo in the “real” world, where flesh-and-blood survivors have learned to work with some of the machines they once battled. This community, still stuck far below Earth’s surface, has seen ups and downs since Neo left. Without giving anything away (or pointing out the screenplay’s unanswered questions), let’s just say Resurrections has a satisfying explanation for why Laurence Fishburne’s Morpheus has been replaced with one played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II.

Another familiar face or two will appear, but Neo’s most important teammates are newcomers who were inspired by legends of his exploits to make their own escapes from the Matrix. Chief among them is Bugs (Jessica Henwick), who can kick a lot of simulated ass despite wearing sunglasses whose frame swipes straight through the middle of her field of vision. (The movie’s outré wardrobe, designed by Lindsay Pugh, is a lot of fun, but those glasses cross the line.)

Carrie-Anne Moss features prominently on the movie’s poster, but prepare to wait a long time for Trinity. She’s been re-Matrixed too, and the fictional life she was given there has a hold on her. Machine guns, flying robots and pods of goo notwithstanding, some of the picture’s most engaging scenes are those in which Neo/Thomas interacts with Trinity in that world, where she’s a married mother named Tiffany, and tries to coax her into remembering the life they once shared.

Rescuing Trinity becomes the sole point of the film, allowing us to mostly stop keeping track of all the Oracles and Architects and Keymasters and whatever that bogged the sequels down. As that mission develops, we piece together the ways Wachowski (writing with novelists David Mitchell and Aleksandar Hemon) has reconceived some figures from the original trilogy. These reimaginings mostly make sense, and they open up new interpretative possibilities for fans who feel these action blockbusters merit close analysis. But they tend to work better on paper than on screen, failing to crystalize meaning, sound and image as perfectly as, say, Hugo Weaving did as Agent Smith.

As for the action, it’s thoroughly enjoyable even if you’ve mostly seen it before. Ordinary inhabitants of the Matrix sometimes get transformed into a mindless swarm of attackers — not as chilling as watching Agent Smith possess other people’s bodies, but good for some zombie-apocalypse-style battles (and for a fight on a Japanese Shinkansen that owes something to Train to Busan ). Bullet time gets tweaked, not as a tool for cinematic excitement, but as a way to knock the air out of Neo’s sails.

Resurrections leaves plenty of things unexplored. For a movie that so loudly makes reference to the real world, its failure to address the place “red pill” symbolism has found in right-wing propaganda comes as a mild surprise. (The dialogue even contains the word “sheeple,” a favorite of those selling conspiracies online.) And there’s nothing here to inspire hope that, should Warners or whomever insist on more sequels, they’d be worth seeing. But as someone who watched Reloaded and Revolutions more than once, trying unsuccessfully to believe they were good (and who’d happily take a blue pill that erased them from my memory), I actually look forward to seeing this one a second time.

Full credits

Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures Production companies: Village Roadshow Pictures, Venus Castina Productions Cast: Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jessica Henwick, Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Jada Pinkett Smith Director: Lana Wachowski Screenwriters: Lana Wachowski, David Mitchell, Aleksandar Hemon Producers: James McTeigue, Lana Wachowski, Grant Hill Executive Producers: Bruce Berman, Jess Ehrman, Garret Grant, Terry Needham, Michael Salven, Karin Wachowski Directors of photography: Daniele Massaccesi, John Toll Production designers: Hugh Bateup, Peter Walpole Costume designer: Lindsay Pugh Editor: Joseph Jett Sally Composers: Johnny Klimek, Tom Tykwer Casting director: Carmen Cuba

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The Matrix Resurrections First Reviews: Packed with Nostalgia but Exciting in New Ways

Critics say the sequel focuses on a few core elements and touches on what made the original so spectacular, even if it could never match the first film's impact..

movie reviews matrix

TAGGED AS: Action , blockbuster , Film , films , movie , movies , Sci-Fi , science fiction

Whoa! Neo is back in the first Matrix movie in 18 years, and it just might be the best sequel yet. The first reviews of The Matrix Resurrections are mostly favorable, acknowledging that it’s less interested in innovation than emphasizing what truly works in the franchise: the romance.

Yes, Trinity ( Carrie Anne-Moss ) is back as well, and her chemistry with Keanu Reeves as Neo is said to be one of the highlights of this meta-nostalgic revival. Whether he rest — from its philosophical themes to its action scenes — is serviceable or satisfying is still up for debate.

Here’s what critics are saying about The Matrix Resurrections :

How does it compare to the original?

It’s constantly engaging, thoughtful, and challenging in all of the best ways the original Matrix ever was. – Sean Mulvihill, FanboyNation
As excitingly fresh and ambitious as The Matrix was in its approach to cyberpunk cinema in 1999, The Matrix Resurrections is just as devoted to its bold and disruptive vision in 2021. – Jacob Oller, Paste Magazine
The Matrix Resurrections goes back to the integral source code that made the original so captivating. – Julian Roman, MovieWeb
This is a resurrection of the excitement and sense of wonder we felt when we watched the first Matrix . – Sherin Nicole, idobi.com
Where the original film was explosively innovatory, this is just another piece of IP, an algorithm of unoriginality. – Peter Bradshaw, Guardian

What about the two previous sequels?

It’s better than the sequels . – Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy
Resurrections is easily better than the last two installments . – Kirsten Acuna, Insider
Will satisfy fans and critics in a way  Matrix Reloaded  and  Revolutions  didn’t . – Patricia Puentes, Ask
If you’re in the much smaller club that believes the sequels were under-appreciated examples of brainy myth-making, it’s possible  Resurrections  will break your heart . – John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter

Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss in The Matrix Resurrections

(Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures)

Does it have its own identity?

It’s great to see this new film establish a visual fluency all its own amidst the wafts of nostalgia . – Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction
What you get that’s new this time around is the overall look of the movie… Resurrections  feels much warmer, with plenty of oranges and reds interspersed, that make the eventual heart of the film beat that much stronger . – Germain Lussier, io9.com
Through its clever flashbacks and callbacks,  The Matrix Resurrections  takes moments that are very familiar and makes them entirely new . – Sean Mulvihill, FanboyNation
It’s not servicing fans. It’s in service of itself… There is value in looking back as long as that experience moves you forward . – Jacob Oller, Paste Magazine
Even though  The Matrix Resurrections  is a nostalgia-filled homage that wouldn’t work without the franchise’s three previous movies, this new installment still manages to be fresh and original in its own way . – Patricia Puentes, Ask
The movie is in love with the previous movies, but in a sort of defiant way. Lana seems to be saying, “Oh, you liked the previous movies? HERE THEN, HAVE THEM!”  – Tom Santilli, Movie Show Plus
This one largely eschews innovation. Rather, Resurrections takes comfort in the familiar . – Peter Debruge, Variety

Does it have something important to say?

Without being dogmatic or contrived, the writers pack a lot into their characters’ conversations… about free will, how a story never ends, the limits of reality . – Patricia Puentes, Ask
The plot, slight as it is, creates a frame on which Wachowski can hang a lot of indignation . – Hope Madden, MaddWolf
You get a real sense that Lana has something very important to say, and she’s pissed off about it . – Tom Santilli, Movie Show Plus
You begin to wonder if this movie is about anything or if it’ll just be two-plus hours of Wachowski trolling . – Robert Daniels, The Playlist

Keanu Reeves in The Matrix Resurrections

Is it self-aware?

The Matrix Resurrection s is well-aware that it has a lot to prove and its level of meta might be too much for some. I dug it, though . – Germain Lussier, io9.com
This tongue-in-cheek approach adds a dose of levity to a franchise that had previously been consumed by darkness . – Julian Roman, MovieWeb
Not since Mary Martin’s Peter Pan implored a generation of young Americans to clap for a near-death Tinkerbell has there been a production with quite this level of fourth-wall-breaking earnestness . – Keith Uhlich, Slant Magazine
To some, the over-referencing and meta nature will be seen as a double-edged sword… The Matrix Resurrections  forces the audience to question the entire purpose of the franchise . – Sheraz Farooqi, Cinema Debate

How is the action?

The action sequences are reliably captivating and despite the film’s meandering plot, combination of tones, and heady sci-fi, it clips along as an entertaining spectacle . – Drew Gregory, Autostraddle
The Matrix Resurrections sticks with slick wirework, wicked martial arts choreography, and ferocious gunplay. Action junkies will get a fix and a half here . – Julian Roman, MovieWeb
The action doesn’t entirely live up to the originals, but how could it? – Hope Madden, MaddWolf
The choreography is still strong overall, but can’t help but miss that original feel . – Sheraz Farooqi, Cinema Debate
There’s probably more action here than in the original film. But many of the scenes, though large in scale and scope, feel redundant . – Kirsten Acuna, Insider
The absence of fight choreographer Yuen Woo-ping is deeply felt whenever Resurrections goes in for close hand-to-hand combat — moments that recall the cut-to-shreds chaos cinema of Jerry Bruckheimer and Tony Scott . – Keith Uhlich, Slant Magazine
The filmmaking isn’t as clear or exciting, not as innovative as it once was; too many cuts mired in a darkness . – Jacob Oller, Paste Magazine

The Matrix Resurrections

What about the romance?

Resurrections is a love story at its core… This time you feel two old lovers and friends reuniting after years apart, and it just works . – Hannah Lodge, Screen Rex
Compared to the relatively sexless blockbusters we’re used to, it’s refreshing to see [Neo and Trinity’s] romance front and center . – Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy
The Matrix Resurrections  is primarily focused on the bond between Neo and Trinity, which serves as the emotional core of the film and forces the audience to reexamine the original trilogy in that same light . – Sheraz Farooqi, Cinema Debate
Its emphasis on the romance between Neo and Trinity allows Resurrections to become a devastatingly sincere movie about how love is the best weapon we have to make sense of a world that fills our heads with the white noise of war and conflict on a forever loop . – David Ehrlich, IndieWire

Do Reeves and Moss still have chemistry?

When Reeves and Moss are on screen together their unmistakable chemistry rekindles hot enough to warm a city . – Robert Daniels, The Playlist
Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss are electric together on screen… Spectacular . – Julian Roman, MovieWeb
The audience can’t help but swoon anytime they’re on screen together. – Germain Lussier, io9.com
There’s never a moment where you doubt their starry-eyed fondness for each other. – Keith Uhlich, Slant Magazine

Carrie-Anne Moss in The Matrix Resurrections

So it’s great to have Moss back as Trinity?

Carrie-Anne Moss is still a force of nature. – Hope Madden, MaddWolf
She’s excellent. Badass, striking and with an underlying yearning she’s able to nearly beam at you. – Jacob Oller, Paste Magazine
It’s a pleasure to see Moss return, but a shame to see her given so little interesting to do . – Peter Bradshaw, Guardian
Carrie-Ann Moss’ screen time is comparable to Zendaya’s in WB’s Dune … which is a shame because the duo’s scenes are easily the film’s best . – Kirsten Acuna, Insider

Are there any standouts among the new cast?

As much as we’d have loved to see Laurence Fishburne back as Morpheus, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is a superb replacement . – Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy
It’s Jessica Henwick who threatens to run away with the entire show. She is a revelation, imbuing her character with warmth, strength and assured intelligence . – Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction
Jessica Henwick’s Bugs is the single most electric addition to the franchise since the original . – David Ehrlich, IndieWire

How is the pacing?

The film’s pacing makes sense because it mirrors the first film like poetry… It feels like the movie wraps just as it finally ramps up and gets going . – Kirsten Acuna, Insider
It’s too long, but all of them are . – Hope Madden, MaddWolf

Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss in The Matrix Resurrections

Will we want to see it more than once?

This is, even more than the first three movies, a film built for repeat viewing . – Germain Lussier, io9.com
I’m excited to see what unfolds in second and third viewings of  Resurrections . – Hannah Lodge, Screen Rex

Will it make us want more Matrix movies?

As much as the movie is self-aware of its status as a legacyquel, it definitely sets the pieces on the board for this to act as a soft reboot for further movies . – Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy
If this is the start of a new trilogy, you can count me in . – Sean Mulvihill, FanboyNation
There’s nothing here to inspire hope that, should Warners or whomever insist on more sequels, they’d be worth seeing . – John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter

The Matrix Resurrections is in theaters on December 24, 2021.

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Intense, but many teens will be able to handle it.

The Matrix Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

"Reality" may not be what you think it is. If you'

Morpheus tells Neo he's "the One" who was prophesi

The film casts actors of different races and ethni

Many fight sequences involving knives, guns, kicks

Brief scene with scantily clad characters, cleavag

"S--t" and "goddamn" many times. Also "ass," a--ho

The Oracle smokes, one character has a drink.

Parents need to know that The Matrix is an exciting, sometimes confusing, sci-fi adventure with a brooding Keanu Reeves and a mysterious Laurence Fishburne at it center. It's heavy on special effects and has a lot of action violence (some of it pretty gross, including an icky bug that enters the hero's body…

Positive Messages

"Reality" may not be what you think it is. If you're called to save others, you have a choice to accept or reject a destiny that others tell you that you have. Never give up, even against great odds in an ever-changing reality. Teamwork is important for winning.

Positive Role Models

Morpheus tells Neo he's "the One" who was prophesied to end the war between machines and humans. Neo accepts his destiny, trains hard and makes tough, brave choices. Morpheus looks out for Neo and at one point sacrifices himself to protect him. Trinity believes Neo is “the One” more than he does. She becomes his main ally and teammate.

Diverse Representations

The film casts actors of different races and ethnicities. While it has a few female characters, they're in supporting roles, sidekicks to the two leading men. Though the film is about a global calamity, all the characters are American. The character of Switch is androgynous, originally scripted as trans . Behind the camera, the film was written and directed by sisters who are transgender -- Lana and Lilly Wachowski.

Did we miss something on diversity? Suggest an update.

Violence & Scariness

Many fight sequences involving knives, guns, kicks, punches. Deaths during battle scenes. An icky bug enters the hero's body through his belly button.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.

Sex, Romance & Nudity

Brief scene with scantily clad characters, cleavage, passionate kissing.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.

"S--t" and "goddamn" many times. Also "ass," a--hole," "hell," "crap" and "Jesus" and "Jesus Christ" used as exclamations.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Matrix is an exciting, sometimes confusing, sci-fi adventure with a brooding Keanu Reeves and a mysterious Laurence Fishburne at it center. It's heavy on special effects and has a lot of action violence (some of it pretty gross, including an icky bug that enters the hero's body through his belly button) and strong language ("s--t," "goddamn," "crap," etc.). Most teens should be able to handle it without a problem, though the plot can be confusing as it unfolds.

Parents need to know that The Matrix is an exciting, if sometimes confusing, sci-fi adventure written and directed by sisters Lana and Lilly Wachowski. It stars a brooding Keanu Reeves , a mysterious Laurence Fishburne , and a strong Carrie-Anne Moss . It's heavy on special effects and has lots of action violence including many gun fights. There are also gross elements, including an icky bug that enters the hero's body through his belly button and strong language ("s--t," "goddamn," "crap," etc.). The film emphasizes perseverance and teamwork. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails .

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movie reviews matrix

Community Reviews

  • Parents say (90)
  • Kids say (437)

Based on 90 parent reviews

Confusing for kids

Great fun movie, what's the story.

In THE MATRIX, Keanu Reeves stars as Neo, a computer programmer with a sideline as a hacker, who gets mysterious messages that lead him to Morpheus ( Laurence Fishburne ), leader of a ragtag group that lives aboard a rocket-style craft. It turns out that it's not 1999 but about 100 years into the future. All of humanity has been turned into a source of energy to keep machines "alive." The Matrix is a massive computer program that has the humans believing that they are still living in a world that has actually been destroyed. Special agents, led by Smith ( Hugo Weaving ), seek out Morpheus and his followers to destroy them.

Is It Any Good?

This film is heavy on special effects and brooding paranoia, light on plot, dialogue, character, and even coherence. THE MATRIX challenges what's real and what's part of an elaborate, fake cyber-reality, so it can be confusing for both the audience and the characters in the movie. But it's certainly an ideal pick for the kind of teen who wishes that video games could come to life. Though it's rated R for violence (some pretty gross, including an icky bug that enters the hero's body through his belly button) and language, most teens 14 and up who are begging to see it should be able to handle it without a problem.

Talk to Your Kids About ...

Families can talk about the relationship between humans and machines. Why was the first Matrix program, creating the perception of a utopia-like society, unacceptable to the humans?

What do you think of the violence in The Matrix ? Is it too much or appropriate to the story?

How well do you think The Matrix deals with the philosophical issues it raises, such as destiny vs. free will and loyalty vs. self-interest?

Movie Details

  • In theaters : March 31, 1999
  • On DVD or streaming : September 21, 1999
  • Cast : Carrie-Anne Moss , Keanu Reeves , Laurence Fishburne
  • Directors : Lilly Wachowski , Lana Wachowski
  • Inclusion Information : Female directors, Transgender directors, Female actors, Asian actors, Polynesian/Pacific Islander actors, Black actors
  • Studio : Warner Bros.
  • Genre : Science Fiction
  • Topics : Magic and Fantasy , Adventures , Robots , Science and Nature , Space and Aliens
  • Run time : 136 minutes
  • MPAA rating : R
  • MPAA explanation : sci-fi violence and brief language.
  • Last updated : April 29, 2024

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

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The Matrix (1999)

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In Theaters

  • Keanu Reeves as Neo; Laurence Fishburne as the freedom fighter leader Morpheus; Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity; Hugo Weaving as the Machines' Agent Smith

Home Release Date

  • Andy Wachowski|Larry Wachowski


  • Warner Bros.

Movie Review

“How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world if you didn’t wake from the dream?”

So goes the question posed in The Matrix . Is life real or illusion? Twentieth century life flows on as normal. Or does it? This is revisionist history—in the future. Late in the 21st century, man develops artificial intelligence (referred to simply as the Machines). The Machines take control of Earth. Man fights back. In the resulting power struggle, the world is decimated. And the Machines win.

After discovering they can subsist using electricity generated by the human body, the Machines create a grand illusion to fool humans into serving them. The world “seems” to still be normal, but in fact the bodies of humans are contained in chambers on large “farms” and their minds are linked into a worldwide virtual reality computer program called the Matrix. Nothing is real.

It’s at this point that the film opens with a select group of men and women who have hacked their way out of the Matrix, discovering their true identity. They form a colony called Zion in the real world (which is otherwise lifeless). A few of them re-enter the Matrix to battle the Machines which present themselves in the form of humans. Since nothing is real inside, laws of physics need not apply. Everything centers on how much your mind can disbelieve. If you think you are falling from the top of a skyscraper, you are. If your mind can transcend the illusion, you can leap tall buildings in a single bound.

Enter Neo, the One whose appearance has been prophesized by the Oracle (an old woman with psychic powers). Plucked out of the Matrix by the freedom fighters, he is trained to fight. Then reintroduced into the Matrix, Neo must defeat the Machines.

Positive Elements: Truth is worth more than life itself for the freedom fighters. Reality, regardless of how dreary, is better for man than the mindless exercise of comfort and luxury easily provided by the Matrix.

Sexual Content: Virtually none. (Pun intended.) A short conversation occurs in which one computer programmer offers Neo an interlude with a digital woman. Neo does not accept.

Violent Content: Excruciatingly drawn-out sequences feature slow-motion gun battles and hand-to-hand combat including kung-fu fighting. Bodies are repeatedly bludgeoned, ripped apart by machine-gun bullets, slammed through concrete walls, burned with electrical blasts, exploded and hit by a train. One man is stabbed in the head.

Blood drips from mouths as internal organs are pummeled in one scene, but the remainder of the fighting is highly choreographed and largely gore-free. That doesn’t mean gore isn’t a problem though. Especially when a bug-like creature penetrates Neo’s belly and is later forcibly extracted.

Action is often shown with slow-motion dream-like clarity, firmly planting the images in moviegoers minds. After over two hours of almost non-stop fighting, viewers are left with the feeling that the characters of the film have played a distant second to the special effects-filled action scenes.

Spiritual Content: Mysticism and prophesies play a large role in the freedom fighters’ worldview. Almost everything they believe is based on what the Oracle says. Her psychic powers are trusted without hesitation.

A loose comparison to Christ is presented inasmuch as Neo is the “chosen one” destined to save mankind. One character even addresses him as his “own personal Jesus Christ.” Universal ponderings abound, some of which parallel the Christian worldview. A defiled Eden. Intertwined realities. Messianic prophesies. A Judas figure. There’s even a girl named Trinity whose kiss “raises Neo from the dead,” a ship dubbed Nebuchadnessar and a city of destiny called Zion.

But for every part Christian allegory, there are equal parts Buddhism, Greek mythology, Alice in Wonderland and The Terminator —a contemplative stew lacking any purity of focus. As savior, Neo uses Jesus’ name as profanity, hoists a middle finger at police and strafes buildings with gunfire, leaving countless corpses in his wake.

Crude or Profane Language: Amazingly, no f-words mar the dialogue of this R-rated film. But multiple uses of that particular vocal abrasion occur in soundtrack music by Marilyn Manson and Rage Against the Machine. A significant number of s-words (about 20) pepper the script, however. And there are more than a dozen inappropriate uses of the Lord’s name.

Drug and Alcohol Content: Neo and a compatriot drink homemade liquor. Neo chokes and spits most of his swig out, not realizing how strong the concoction is. The hallucinatory drug mescaline is mentioned once as an escape from the drudgery of life.

Other Negative Elements: Portrayals of human infants attached to the Machines with tubes comes across as intentionally disturbing. A scene in which Neo’s body is rescued from the human “farm” is a cross between a Marilyn Manson video and what it would be like if a full-grown man were to be born. Mucus, blood, suction tubes, violence, etc.

Summary: Despite all the hype, I still have to chalk up this chaotically violent head trip as just another post-apocalyptic war thriller. It’s a cyber-reality update of Bladerunner . It’s an attempt to win the hearts of moviegoers who wish somebody would make another Clockwork Orange . Its visuals are unique and possibly trendsetting. But its flimsy allusions to theological truth are far from inspiring.

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The Matrix Review

Matrix, The

11 Jun 1999

139 minutes

Matrix, The

Get this: what if all we know as reality was, in fact, virtual reality? Reality itself is a ravaged dystopia run by technocrat Artificial Intelligence where humankind vegetates in billions of gloop-filled tanks - mere battery packs for the machineworld - being fed this late '90s VR (known as The Matrix - you with us here?) through an ugly great cable stuck in the back of our heads. And what if there was a group of quasi-spiritual rebels infiltrating The Matrix with the sole purpose of crashing the ruddy great mainframe and rescuing humans from their unknown purgatory? And, hey, what if Keanu Reeves was their Messiah?

What sounds like some web freak's wet dream is, in fact, a dazzlingly nifty slice of sci-fi cool. The Wachowskis (Lana and Lilly - last seen dabbling in kinky lesbian noir with the excellent Bound ) pulling off something like a million masterstrokes all at once. Taking the imprimatur of the video game, they meld the grungy noir of Blade Runner , the hyperkinetic energies of chopsocky, John Woo hardware and grandiose spiritual overtones into William Gibson's cyberpunk ethos to produce a new aesthetic for the millennium powered to the thudding beat of techno. And it is just incredible fun. The key is the technique of "flo-mo", a process born from Japanese animation, whereby an object in motion is seemingly frozen while the camera miraculously spins around it as if time and gravity are on hold. It grants the action (including some killer kung fu which Reeves and crew spent months perfecting) liberty to take on surreal visual highs. Superhuman feats permissible, of course, in the context of VR as the rebels download Herculean "talents" to fuel their subterfuge. Meanwhile, the audience can only gawp longingly, with its jaws thunking to the cinema floor in unison, as the heroes wrapped in skintight leather, sleek shades and designer cheekbones, spin up walls, leap from high rises and slip through streams of bullets in silken slo-mo. Tron this ain't.

Immediately reigniting the moribund cyberpunk genre (the kids can't get enough Stateside), this has thrust Reeves from his imploding career back to Speed highs (and laying to rest the hideous ghost of Johnny Mnemonic) and stolen much more of Star Wars ' thunder than was thought humanly possible. For all its loony plot, The Matrix is fabulous.

Sure, the expert Laurence Fishburne is depended upon to expound the lion's share of the script as seer-like rebel leader Morpheus. Reeves, stunning in his newcast slenderness, as Thomas "Neo" Anderson, the hacker turned hope for all mankind (care of some ill-defined mystical calling) is asked little more than perpetual befuddlement. Like Speed , though, this movie plays on his iconic looks rather than his oak-like emoting. There's a major find, too, in the irresistible Carrie-Anne Moss, a majestically wrought combination of steely no-shit intelligence and rock-chick vivaciousness as fellow tripper Trinity. And Hugo Weaving, cast against type, neutralises his Aussie tones to a freaky deadpan, the head of the MiB-styled defence system set against the Goth invaders.

And sure, three minutes of post-movie deliberation and all this state-of-the-art cyberdevilry is reduced to the purest gobbledygook. That, though, is not the point. The Matrix is about pure experience; it's been many a moon since the Empire crew have spilled out of a cinema literally buzzing with the sensation of a movie, babbling frenetically with the sheer excitement of discovery.

From head to tail, the deliciously inventive Wachowskis (watch them skyrocket) have delivered the syntax for a new kind of movie: technically mind-blowing, style merged perfectly with content and just so damn cool, the usher will have to drag you kicking and screaming back into reality. You can bet your bottom dollar George never saw this phantom menace coming.

Buy now on Amazon.

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Rodney Ascher ’s documentaries dream of something bigger than just sharing information—they aim to permanently rewire your brain. His debut feature " Room 237 " broke down the wildest hidden messages within  Stanley Kubrick ’s “ The Shining ,” so that you'll never see that classic the same way again. His follow-up documentary, “ The Nightmare ,” focused on the phenomenon of sleep paralysis, with the menacing trick being that watching a movie about such a concept could indeed pass it on to viewers. “A Glitch in the Matrix” is his most ambitious rabbit hole yet, but it also proves to be his most novel, and least playfully convincing.  

There are people out in the world who believe that we, as human beings, are living in a simulation. That we are avatars in a larger video game being played by something else, that coincidences in our lives are glitches as some part of construction, and that we can spot the seams of this world if we pay close attention. To these people, who base their entire life perspective on something they call “simulation theory,” movies like “ The Matrix ” and “ The Truman Show ” are more truthful to the big picture, and are texts that can be be used for reference. The same goes for the works of  Philip K. Dick and their adapted movies, as Dick was a large proponent of the theory who spent a long time trying to understand his own thoughts about it.  

It’s unclear watching the film whether Ascher believes all of this, but it's more that he wants to invest in this theory and pass it along. He becomes a type of interpreter for this point-of-view, using his encyclopedic pop culture knowledge to accompany elaborate different theories and relay the experiences of his select “witnesses” through gripping, trippy animation sequences. Accompanying the words of interview subjects presented as cartoonish sci-fi avatars (with shields, sharp teeth, space suits etc.,) they relay beliefs of how maybe we are just a brain in a lab, a body in a sea of pods; these talking-avatars are often well-spoken, and the documentary is in turn informative and entertaining about a concept your possible overlords may have not wanted you to consider. Ascher uses an impressive, vivid trove of pop culture clips to further illustrate the documentary’s colorful tangents, capturing our existence as a scene in " Starship Troopers ," or " Star Wars ," or a “GTA V” “funny fails” video, the latter involving 100 monotonous people being pushed off a platform in the sky by a bulldozer.  

I believe that this type of skepticism is healthy. If you’ve ever lost an item that seemed to just vanish into thin air, you might too have that feeling, that no other explanation is possible than some gap in some reality swallowed up my damn mailbox key. But “A Glitch in the Matrix” does not, until much later in the movie, get behind the true type of antisocial mindset it takes to deeply see the world as a type of false reality, and the human beings around you as certain products of it. There’s a vital sociological element that’s missing about how life experience could cause someone to view existence with such a lens, and Ascher’s documentary can feel like an erratic, however meticulously illustrated “explainer” YouTube video without it.  

Later on, Ascher focuses on the danger of this psychology with regards to Joshua Cooke, a super-fan of “The Matrix” who committed homicide and says over a phone call interview that he was surprised to see the violence he created not like that of the Wachowskis’ film. "A Glitch in the Matrix" goes even more out of control by recreating the experience (as if walking through a video game level, but with no bodies) as Cooke's recollection guides us. It's a weirdly indulgent moment that hardly adds to our understanding of the film’s larger points aside from highlighting their obvious craven side effects. Instead it prods more at an underlying idea in “A Glitch in the Matrix” that video games and movies have both given us a language to talk about these things—giving us concrete examples, like “The Matrix”—and also can be blamed as an influence on people dehumanizing others, and in some cases acting out with violence. 

Within the film, Ascher has essentially also created a great video essay on Philip K. Dick, and how the simulation theory appeared in adapted films like "Total Recall," "Minority Report," and more. Dick had his own visceral experience and reflected upon it in different novels, informing his depiction of authority and technology—details that are succinctly shown in Ascher’s documentary. The footage of a slightly self-conscious but stern Dick reading off a speech in France about his belief in it is about the closest the doc gets to a full idea of the complex thinking behind it, and how it affects the person who carries such a philosophy.  

“A Glitch in the Matrix” is so much about conveying its big idea that it misses the smaller parts—it oddly seems limited in its overall mission, documenting this mix of philosophy, sci-fi, and religion without helping us understand its believers. And yet it does inspire a healthy, atypical curiosity, not so much about whether we are indeed living in a simulation, but as to who else out there also thinks that their keys are missing due to something larger than human error.   

This review was filed out of the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. The film will be available everywhere February 5.

Nick Allen

Nick Allen is the former Senior Editor at RogerEbert.com and a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association.

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Film credits.

A Glitch in the Matrix movie poster

A Glitch in the Matrix (2021)

110 minutes

  • Rodney Ascher

Director of Photography

  • George Feucht

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  • Bound is a fresh take on film noir with a feminist twist, redefining genre cliches.
  • Unlike many noir films, Bound highlights queer women without catering to the male gaze, promoting sex-positivity.
  • Bound challenges traditional masculinity, serving as a deconstruction of patriarchal values in film noir.

Few filmmakers have had a career more interesting than Lilly and Lana Wachowski. Heavily inspired by Eastern cinema and adult animation, this creative team is known for their idiosyncratic output. The duo put themselves on the map with The Matrix , an auteurist masterpiece that redefined the sci-fi genre. Blending cyberpunk dystopia alongside anime influences, the film became a cultural touchstone thanks to its stylized action and philosophical ideas. The Wachowskis are bold visionaries , with their subsequent films finding cult success in recent years. Queer cinephiles tend to especially resonate with how these directors explore themes of identity and gender roles. However, few tend to discuss The Watchowskis' directorial debut, even though it's their best film.

Released in 1996, Bound immediately established the Wachowski sisters as a cinematic force to be reckoned with. Jennifer Tilly stars as Violet, a woman trapped in a miserable marriage to an unstable mobster. She falls in love with Gina Gershon's Corky, an ex-con simply trying to keep her head low. Together, they conspire to con Violet's husband, Caesar, played by The Sopranos' Joey Pants in a career-best performance. More overtly queer than The Matrix , Bound didn't have the same impact on pop culture , even though it's the stronger film. Reconstructing the noir genre with a feminist twist, Bound is a brilliant thriller that holds up nearly 30 years later.

Bound Feels Like a Fresh Take On a Classic Genre

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Like much of The Wachowskis' other works, Bound is a pastiche of several different cinematic inspirations . The film is molded after film noirs , showcasing the same byzantium plotting and moral ambiguity synonymous with the genre. Violet and Corky live in a world of seedy violence, trapped in a dangerous world of poisonous machismo. Likewise, Bill Pope's inventive cinematography recalls the moody shadows and fluid camerawork of films like Touch of Evil . Bound is filled with little touches that signify an intrinsic understanding of noir as an aesthetic. Lana and Lilly Wachowski are clearly fans of the genre, yet they are too ambitious to simply recreate their favorite noirs.

Recontextualizing the genre's ethos with a progressive lens, Bound turns tired cliches into layered characters. Violet is a classic example of a femme fatale , a woman who uses her sex appeal as a tool for manipulation. Her sultry voice and staggering sex appeal resemble the likes of Phyllis Dietrichson from Double Indemnity . Most noirs frame these kinds of characters as Machiavellian villains or helpless victims in need of strong men. The way these women utilize their sexuality is shown as a form of weakness, a last act of desperation to survive in a male world. Bound refuses to play this misogynistic trope straight, instead providing a far more sympathetic view of the femme fatale archetype.

In any other film, Violet would be a supporting figure, a sexy wild card to keep the men on their toes. However, Bound positions her as the main character, exploring her motivations in great detail. Throughout the film, viewers realize that Violet is very much trapped in a hell of heteronormativity and desperate to escape . Her husband, Caesar, is a violent maniac craving to assert his masculinity, and she's terrified of him. Jennifer Tilly's chemistry with Gina Gershon is genuinely romantic, for their relationship isn't built upon manipulation but sincere love. Violet cares deeply for Corky, and those feelings push her to self-actualize and pursue a better life.

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1996 was not a great time for queer representation, at least beyond the confines of subtext. While films like Top Gun and Point Break have been analyzed through an LGBTQ+ lens, such readings stem largely from interpretation. When overtly queer stories like Fried Green Tomatoes were adapted to film, censorship reduced homosexual overtones to undertones. Gay representation in genre entertainment, outside of some ugly stereotypes, was a rarity, especially from a queer perspective. Even positive depictions of LGBTQ+ individuals , like Mike Nichols' The Birdcage , came from a heterosexual point of view. Bound broke the mold, putting queer women front and center in a story that celebrated intimacy without shame .

Violet and Corky's relationship is one of the greatest love stories of all time, even if it's one written in blood. Gina Gershon and Jennifer Tilly have a dynamic built upon the kind of chemistry that fogs windows. Equal parts steamy and tender, their scenes together are nothing short of electric. Whereas other films tend to shy away from queer sex, Bound has no problem showing the physical connection between these characters. The love scene between the two is raw and deeply intimate, but their relationship is so much more than sex. Corky risks everything for Violet, inspiring her to escape the abusive monster that is her husband. It's a story of empowerment, not a celebration of the male gaze.

Bound Refuses to Cater Towards The Male Gaze

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Female objectification is a massive problem in the film and television industry . Even in the wake of the MeToo movement, Hollywood still finds a way to reward perverts behind a camera. Micheal Bay has made some of the most successful blockbusters of all time, yet is infamous for his gratuitous fanservice. Likewise, Sam Levinson is an incredibly powerful voice in television, yet Euphoria displays female bodies in borderline pornographic fashion. Queer women in particular are exploited within the confines of entertainment. Blue is The Warmest Color is an incredibly famous depiction of lesbian intimacy , yet it's entirely built upon the male gaze. Despite the expectations of the industry, Bound is both sex-positive and respects its leading queer women.

The Wachowski sisters love their characters and have no interest in objectifying them for cheap fan service. Noted feminist Suse Bright was employed as an intimacy coordinator, ensuring that the film's sexual content served the story. Bound is about women who have sex and don't apologize for it , celebrating the physical nature of love. Violet and Corky's love scene is explicit, but Bill Pope's camera doesn't exploit such an intimate moment. Done entirely in one take, the shot feels tender instead of salacious, ending on Corky's face as Violet embraces her. Ultimately, the Wachowskis approach sex as a tool to illustrate the deep connection between these two women.

Bound Challenges Traditional Heternormative Values.

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Bound is more than a feminist endorsement of queerness; it's also a deconstruction of traditional masculinity . Despite their adherence to film noir, the Wachowskis aim to dismantle the patriarchal values synonymous with the genre. Vintage crime thrillers are about jaded men, starring famous tough guys like Humphery Bogart as knights in black armor. Emotionally distant, these characters are hard-edged individualists who rely on violence to assert dominance. It's easy to root for guys like Philip Marlowe when they're played by charismatic performers, but they promote a dangerous form of toxic masculinity. Bound presents film noir values as unhinged character flaws rather than virtues of manhood.

Joe Pantailano's performance as Caesar would fit right alongside several protagonists within the hard-boiled genre. His agitated energy and ruthless ambition resemble Richard Windmark's iconic turn as Harry Fabian in Night of The City . If Bound were released in 1956, Caesar would be a tragic lead, his flaws born out of necessity to survive. However, The Wachowskis frame Pantaliano's character as their villain, understanding his true nature as a pathetic figure. Caesar aspires towards a traditional sense of male dominance, and those aspirations ultimately make him dangerous. Playing the part like a vicious bulldog, Pantaliano understands that Caesar's penchant for violence stems from insecurity. Bound understands that heteronormative masculinity is terrifying in reality , as it drives unstable men to madness.

Bound Still Holds up Today as an Unsung Masterpiece

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Quality queer cinema is an unfortunate rarity in today's media landscape. While modern-day directors are unquestionably more diverse than those of the past, few films successfully challenge the status quo. Most studio projects tend to cater towards heteronormativity, reducing LGBTQ+ characters to background props. Even films that have openly queer leading roles are streamlined to avoid confronting traditional cultural values or gender norms. The Wachowskis have no interest in maintaining that cinematic tradition. They have always had a gift for Trojan horsing thought-provoking ideas in escapist entertainment. Bound blends nerve-wracking suspense with intelligent satire , underlying a genre defined by toxic masculinity with sly feminist commentary.

Most filmmakers struggle to make a decent film throughout their career, but the Wachowskis released a masterpiece straight out of the gate. Much like The Matrix , Bound works firmly within the genre it seeks to deconstruct and does so with brilliant results . The script is sharp as a tack, reconstructing the noir framework as a queer subversion of patriarchal values. Gina Gershon and Jennifer Tilly's chemistry lights up the screen, while Joe Pantaliano has never been better. The Wachowskis have always been known for innovative filmmaking, with their debut being no exception. Both an effective romance and a positive depiction of sexual liberty, Bound is an auteurist triumph.

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The 25 Highest-Rated Movies on IMDb, Ranked by Votes


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While internet popularity can be a fickle and fleeting thing, in the case of IMDb , there are a few top-rated movies that tower above their rivals and stand the test of time . Moviegoers can rate the films they see on the website, and some are cemented as being at the top of their class. Seen by many as the go-to resource for film ratings and opinions, the ten most-voted films are usually, if not some of the best movies of all time. At the very least, IMDb's top movies are comfortably the internet's favorite movies and are likely recognizable to most viewers.

As IMDb continues to be a popular resource for those looking for must-see 10-star movies, its ratings and number of voters also constantly change as more viewers flock to the site to share their opinions about their favorite films. For the most-voted movies on the platform, they remain above these shifts, except for some subtle differences in their ranking and number of votes.

25 'Schindler's List' (1993)

Votes: 1.5 million | imdb rating: 9.0.

Liam Neeson as Oskar Schindler crying while facing a man in Schindler's List

The magnum opus of legendary filmmaker Steven Spielberg , Schindler's List has consistently been in conversation as one of the greatest and most acclaimed films of all time ever since its release 30 years ago. The film follows the incredible true story of businessman Oskar Schindler ( Liam Neeson ), in his pivotal and important role in using factory jobs as a way to save over a thousand Jewish lives from the Nazis during the holocaust and World War II.

Much like many of the other movies in the IMDb Top 250, Schindler's List 's high placement on the site as the #6 best film of all time brings many more eyes and attention to check it out and provide their own votes. This is all on top of the massive legacy that the film had already cemented for itself before this point, winning the Academy Award for Best Picture and being one of the most influential dramas of the 90s. The only thing holding this back from having as many votes as others in the top 10 is the movie's gargantuan 3+ hour length , which is daunting to some casual viewers.

Schindler's List (1995)

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24 'The Avengers' (2012)

Votes: 1.5 million | imdb rating: 8.0.

Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Hulk (mark Ruffalo), Captain America (Chris Evans), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), stand heroically in the wreckage of Stark Tower, staring down at the camera in The Avengers.

The first true crossover and quintessential chapter of the Marvel Cinematic Universe , The Avengers proved the concept of a shared universe and took the world by storm in a way that had never truly been seen before. The film follows Nick Fury ( Samuel L. Jackson ), director of the international peacekeeping agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D., who enacts the "Avengers Initiative" in calling together a group of heroes in order to stop a new global threat.

Seeing characters from four different blockbuster movies coming together in a beautiful, hilarious, and action-packed thrill ride made a massive splash among audiences, and set the MCU up for success in the decade to come. Even still, as the franchise has seen theoretically higher highs and greater moments, the original crossover event film still has a special place in the eyes of the IMDb user base , as it's still the most voted and popular among the entire franchise.

The Avengers

23 'shutter island' (2010), votes: 1.5 million | imdb rating: 8.2.

Leonardo DiCaprio looking pensive, while Mark Ruffalo stands in the background, in 'Shutter Island'

One of many iconic and masterful films by director Martin Scorsese , Shutter Island 's high tension, powerful mystery, and iconic twist has helped the film become a fan favorite among the IMDb user base. The film follows the story of soldier turned U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels ( Leonardo DiCaprio ), who is in the middle of investigating the mysterious disappearance of a patient from the hospital for the criminally insane. However, his search proves to be much more difficult than expected, as he is riddled with an array of troubling visions as well as a strange, unknown doctor.

While Scorsese has certainly had higher-rated and more beloved films both before and since Shutter Island , its timing of release, all-star cast, and mystery element have helped it find a massive audience on IMDb . The film's 2010 release coincides with the most popular era of the site's history, bringing many eyes to the newest release from one of the most beloved and acclaimed directors of all time following up on his legendary Best Picture win, The Departed . This, combined with the also high popularity of DiCaprio in 2010, skyrocketed the film to being one of the most watched and rated on the site.

Shutter Island

22 'joker' (2019), votes: 1.5 million | imdb rating: 8.4.

Joaquin Phoenix smoking a cigarette in a dressing room in Joker

One of the most infamous and controversial superhero movies of all time, Joker 's gritty, R-rated origin story of the clown prince of crime quickly made a name for itself as one of the most defining films of the generation. The film follows the story of failed stand-up comedian Arthur Fleck as the struggles and tribulations of society slowly but surely fracture his mind and transform him into the vicious villainous figure, The Joker. The film also featured a brilliant lead performance by Joaquin Phoenix , who won his first Academy Award for his work in the film.

Joker found the perfect balance between awards contention and mass controversy that quickly made it a must-watch film . Critics were widely divided on the film, audiences fell in love with the film, news outlets were discussing the dangerous aspects of the film's themes and messaging, and all of this combined quickly made Joker one of the biggest films of recent memory. It became the first R-rated film to gross over a billion dollars , and with the upcoming sequel on the horizon, the film's legacy and popularity only continue to grow day by day.

Joker (2019)

21 'saving private ryan' (1998), votes: 1.6 million | imdb rating: 8.6.

Tom Hanks as Captain Miller, in a group of WWII soldiers on a boat in Saving Private Ryan

A technological marvelstone and one of many masterpieces from Steven Spielberg at the height of his career, Saving Private Ryan is one of the first films that people think of when they think of war dramas. The film follows a group of U.S. troops who, after storming the beaches of Normandy in World War II, come to the realization that three brothers died on the battlefield, with the fourth now being trapped behind enemy lines. In order to save him and give the family some refugee, Captain John Miller ( Tom Hanks ) and a group of seven men are tasked with going behind enemy lines in able to bring Private Ryan home.

The film's striking and nightmarishly realistic portrayal of WWII battles and the carnage of warfare left a powerful impact on audiences that can still be felt today as one of the most influential American war films of all time . The film was largely touted as one of Spielberg's best throughout the 2000s and 2010s, leading to many IMDb users watching and raving about the film and its masterful execution. The film now sits on IMDb as the #24 highest-rated movie of all time, continuing to draw in a larger and larger audience atop its pedestal as one of the highest rated war films on the site.

Saving Private Ryan

20 'the silence of the lambs' (1991).

Hannibal Lecter wearing a muzzle in The Silence of the Lambs

A cinematic masterpiece and still the first movie many think of when considering psychological horror, The Silence of the Lambs is an award-winning film directed by Jonathan Demme based on Thomas Harris ' eponymous 1988 novel. It tells the story of a young FBI trainee, Clarice Starling ( Jodie Foster ), who asks the imprisoned Dr. Hannibal Lecter ( Anthony Hopkins ) for help in her pursuit of a serial killer, "Buffalo Bill" ( Ted Levine ).

Hopkins' performance as the brilliant psychiatrist and notorious cannibal helps cement the character as a pop culture icon . The timeless film's cat-and-mouse game between Clarice and Lecter, coupled with Buffalo Bill's gruesome crimes, creates a suspenseful atmosphere that's still just as riveting upon a well-deserved rewatch today. The votes on IMDb prove that Silence of the Lambs deserves all the praise it received.

The Silence of the Lambs

19 'the wolf of wall street' (2013), votes: 1.6 million | imdb rating: 8.2.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort, standing amid a celebration at his office while confetti falls around him in The Wolf of Wall Street

Based on the true story of Jordan Belfort 's career as a stockbroker as outlined in his eponymous 2007 memoir, director Martin Scorsese 's The Wolf of Wall Street is a renowned dark comedy movie. It revolves around the charismatic stockbroker's (played by Leonardo DiCaprio ) experiences as he rises to financial success after opening his own firm, which engages in fraud and other criminal activities. It also chronicles his epic downfall after his infamy catches the attention of the authorities.

A fantastic movie about excess , the high-energy, darkly comedic exploration of Belfort's unbridled ambition is wholly original and wildly entertaining. This unapologetic portrayal of the chaotic and hedonistic world of Wall Street in the 1990s has understandably been a point of debate among critics and audiences, but it doesn't take away from the film's enduring popularity.

The Wolf of Wall Street

18 'batman begins' (2005).

Batman running down a hallway surrounded by bats in Batman Begins

Christian Bale 's Batman is introduced to millions of fans in Christopher Nolan 's first entry in The Dark Knight trilogy, Batman Begins . The first in the legendary superhero movie trilogy tells the origin story of the legendary DC anti-hero, all the way to his fight against Ra's al Ghul ( Liam Neeson ) and the Scarecrow ( Cillian Murphy ), who want nothing more than to see Gotham in shambles.

The 2005 movie would mark an important turn in the superhero genre, proving that blockbusters can be infused with gritty realism and psychological depth, particularly for the iconic character it portrays. Its depiction of Batman's journey from a traumatized orphan to the caped crusader captures the character's complexities and inner turmoil with ease, laying the groundwork for what many still consider to be the best film series that depicts the anti-hero.

Batman Begins

17 'inglourious basterds' (2009), votes: 1.6 million | imdb rating: 8.4.

Michael Fassbender, Diane Kruger in Tavern Scene in Inglourious Basterds

One of Quentin Tarantino 's most iconic films, Inglourious Basterds is a unique war movie set during World War II that follows a group of American soldiers led by Lieutenant Aldo Raine ( Brad Pitt ), as they embark on a mission to hunt and exterminate Nazis. Another plot running alongside this is Shosanna Dreyfus' ( Mélanie Laurent ) plan to assassinate Nazi Germany's leadership, and the two stories collide in an explosive way.

Tarantino's movie is a remarkable combination of historical drama, dark humor, and intense action , with its unexpected narrative structure only enhancing the unfolding events. It's a one-of-a-kind humorous portrayal of what is one of the darkest periods of history. Of course, career-best performances from actors like Christoph Waltz (for his portrayal of the villainous Colonel Hans Landa) add depth and an element of rewatchability to the 2009 film.

Inglourious Basterds

16 'gladiator' (2000), votes: 1.6 million | imdb rating: 8.5.

Maximus screaming with his arms spread in Gladiator

Director Ridley Scott 's Gladiator is a masterwork in the historical drama genre. Starring Russell Crowe as Roman general Maximus Decimus Meridius, the film portrays his great fall following a betrayal by the emperor's overly ambitious son, Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix). Instead of accepting defeat, Maximus works his way up in the arena and swears vengeance, fighting against numerous foes to reach the very top and leave an important message for the emperor himself (with many onlookers).

The film is full of thunderous spectacles that are flawlessly choreographed battles between gladiators, perfectly complemented by a powerful score by Hans Zimmer . Crowe's commanding performance anchors the film, which traces his path to Commodus – and to revenge – in a way that will have viewers rooting for him until the very end. At this point, Gladiator is an essential revenge movie with a dramatic story that benefits from Scott's direction .

15 'Django Unchained' (2012)

Votes: 1.7 million | imdb rating: 8.5.

Jamie Foxx as Django with Franco Nero as Amerigo Vessepi in Django Unchained

A fan-favorite Western directed by Quentin Tarantino , Django Unchained tells the story of the titular slave (played by Jamie Foxx ) who gains his freedom when he encounters a German bounty hunter, Dr. King Schultz ( Christoph Waltz ). The duo embarks on a dangerous journey across the country to look for Django's wife, Broomhilda ( Kerry Washington ), who is revealed to have been sold to a cruel plantation owner, Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).

Widely regarded as one of Quentin Tarantino's best movies , Django Unchained is a modern masterpiece that is unflinching in its use of irreverent humor and stylistic violence to delve into racism and slavery. With stellar performances from its cast (most notably resulting in DiCaprio's glass scene) and no shortage of sharp dialogue, it's easy to see why the offbeat film became mainstream.

Django Unchained

14 'the lord of the rings: the two towers' (2002), votes: 1.8 million | imdb rating: 8.8.

Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) looking for the kidnapped hobbits in 'The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers' (2002)

It's hard to call any of director Peter Jackson 's The Lord of the Rings movies bad, but if fans had to pick the weakest entry in the trilogy, it would probably be The Two Towers . Picking up where the first movie left off, the film follows Frodo ( Elijah Wood ) and Sam's ( Sean Astin ) increasingly risky journey to Mordor, as well as Aragorn ( Viggo Mortensen ), Legolas ( Orlando Bloom ), and Gimli's ( John Rhys-Davies ) literally breathtaking pursuit of the Uruk-hai who have kidnapped the lovable duo Merry ( Dominic Monaghan ) and Pippin ( Billy Boyd ).

The epic LotR masterpiece does an excellent job of accomplishing the gargantuan task of bridging the two movies in an exciting enough way that leaves audiences wanting more, but not dissatisfied. One of its many highlights and arguably the best is its dramatic portrayal of the Battle of Helm's Deep, also called the Battle of the Hornburg, which sees some beloved characters up against impossible odds. Its high number of votes on IMDb is a testament to just how many people likely have this bookmarked as part of their annual marathons of the acclaimed film trilogy.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

13 'se7en' (1995), votes: 1.8 million | imdb rating: 8.6.

Sergeant Mills (Brad Pitt) looks into the distance distraught as he stands in a large field at sunset.

The twisty crime thriller to end all twisty crime thrillers, director David Fincher 's Se7en set a new standard and elevated the genre when it first premiered in the late 90s. The legendary film is centered on two detectives, the disillusioned William Somerset ( Morgan Freeman ) and his rookie partner David Mills (Brad Pitt). The detectives are assigned to a bizarre case about a serial killer using the seven deadly sins as inspiration for his gruesome yet meticulous murders.

Famous for its unforgettable twist ending , Se7en gives viewers an enthralling story with brilliantly suspenseful moments that build up to its wild conclusion . It was a surprisingly especially dark entry from Fincher, who established numerous trademarks in this film. Fantastic performances from Freeman and Pitt make the flawless material they have to work with even better. It's a movie that captured lightning in a bottle, and one that continues to be referenced, discussed, and studied today.

12 'The Dark Knight Rises' (2012)

Votes: 1.8 million | imdb rating: 8.4.

Batman and Bane fighting in The Dark Knight Rises.

Set eight years after the events of The Dark Knight , director Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises is the gripping conclusion to his award-winning film trilogy. It depicts Gotham in a state of uncharacteristic peace thanks to the Dent Act, which is unsurprisingly soon disturbed by the iconic villain, Bane ( Tom Hardy ). Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is forced to come out of retirement one last time to face this new threat, with the help of the reliable Commissioner Gordon ( Gary Oldman ) and an exciting new ally, Selina Kyle, a.k.a. Catwoman ( Anne Hathaway ).

A great example of a final movie done right, The Dark Knight Rises is a proper send-off for the beloved anti-hero , who's impossible not to root for at this point. Gotham's fate hangs in the balance as the caped crusader meets yet another foe. Of course, it's Tom Hardy's portrayal of the villainous Bane that manages to outshine heroic attempts from the protagonist, and will forever be associated with this massively successful trilogy.

The Dark Knight Rises

11 'the lord of the rings: the return of the king' (2003), votes: 2 million | imdb rating: 9.0.

Gandalf riding towards Gondor in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

The closer to Peter Jackson's trilogy of films adapting J.R.R. Tolkien 's seminal fantasy novels is blockbuster filmmaking done right. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King provides a satisfying conclusion to the nearly nine hours of story. This film sees Aragorn claim his birthright as the King of Gondor, possibly the most outstanding cavalry charge ever put to film, after an unbelievable struggle. It also includes the final leg of Frodo and Samwise's grueling journey towards the eventual destruction of the ring and the defeat of the big bad, Sauron.

This film holds a three-way tie for the most-awarded film in Oscars history, with Ben-Hur and Titanic all sharing the illustrious honor of taking home 11 awards. Perhaps as much an acknowledgment by the academy of the monumental achievement the trilogy as a whole was, The Return of the King also marked one of the rare times in history where the big winner was an epic, crowd-pleasing fantasy film .

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

10 'the lord of the rings: the fellowship of the ring' (2001), votes: 2 million | imdb rating: 8.9.

The fellowship in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.

The task of adapting The Lord of the Rings trilogy that Tolkien spent most of his lifetime developing — and had a massive influence on the genre as a whole — was perhaps rightly seen as one that was, for all intents and purposes, impossible. However, Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema decided to take on the challenge — and it paid off.

Is the beginning of a tale better than the end? The internet certainly seems to think so, as The Fellowship of the Ring places above the conclusion to the trilogy. Why this is so is anyone's guess — but The Fellowship of the Ring is certainly an excellent, well-made film that does a great job of introducing the characters , their motivations, and the stakes of the story. It sees gorgeous depictions of the Shire, the creation of the Fellowship, and the first hints of the terrible antagonists they'll be facing along the way (including themselves). Among the three films, it's the most rewatchable, not just because it came first, but also due to the magical and nostalgic viewing experience it offers.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

9 'the godfather' (1972), votes: 2 million | imdb rating: 9.2.

A man whispering in Don Vito Corleone's ear in The Godfather.

Rarely does a film so completely transcend the medium's limits to become a staple of popular culture, but The Godfather is an odd confluence of factors. A niche Hollywood had thought dead, a young, maverick filmmaker with the vision to revitalize the gangster movie genre , and one of the best casts of all time combine to bring this all-time classic to life.

The Godfather portrays Mario Puzo 's mob novel on the big screen, depicting the life of the head of a mafia, Don Vito Corleone ( Marlon Brando ), as well as his reluctant son's – Michael ( Al Pacino ) – path to joining him and eventually taking control. It's mobster drama at its best, portraying the betrayals, violence, and familial conflicts, giving viewers a behind-the-scenes look at a compelling crime family. It's tough to find fault with this film — everything from the script to the production design, the cinematography, pacing, action, and acting are all top-notch. The Godfather gave viewers a glimpse into the inner workings of a mafia, which revolutionized an entire genre of filmmaking .

The Godfather (1972)

8 'the matrix' (1999), votes: 2.1 million | imdb rating: 8.7.

Keanu Reeves as Neo and Carrie-Ann Moss as Trinity walking in The Matrix.

"What is the Matrix?" is a seemingly simple question, but one that perplexed and intrigued audiences as part of one of the most effective marketing campaigns in history. An odd combination of the height of stunt work, exciting new technologies, and philosophical contemplation of humanity's relationship with machines combined to make The Matrix a massive hit and a cultural phenomenon. It introduced the world to Keanu Reeves ' Neo, who could be the one that could save humanity from a grand illusion, at least according to Morpheus ( Laurence Fishburne ).

This film holds a special place in many people's hearts, and it's easy to see why. It changed the way blockbusters were made, introducing the world to bullet-time and revolutionary special effects, not to mention toe Keanu Reeves' acting chops as an action star. It's worth noting that it's still considered the best one in the Matrix franchise , and is still worth watching again today.

7 'Interstellar' (2014)

Matthew McConaughey walking in another planet in 'Interstellar.'

Another ambitious film from Nolan, Interstellar is considered one of the best sci-fi movies of all time . Set in a dystopian future where blight is causing the rapid decline of life on earth, the film focuses on a former pilot and now farmer named Cooper ( Matthew McConaughey ), who finds a secret NASA location and is soon placed in charge of a mission that could be humanity's last hope. As he leads his team through a wormhole, they don't expect what they find on the other side.

Interstellar hit every mark, from its stunning visual effects and commendable scientific accuracy to its outstanding performances and surprising emotional depth. Alongside its epic intergalactic story, it tells a more intimate father-daughter narrative that eventually influences Cooper's mission. Judging by its number of votes, it's safe to say that it is the movie for sci-fi fans who have likely gotten their dose of space, mind-bending physics, and dystopian settings on more than one rewatch.


6 'pulp fiction' (1994), votes: 2.2 million | imdb rating: 8.9.

Two men raising their guns in Pulp Fiction.

Pulp Fiction is the film that cemented Quentin Tarantino as a creative force in Hollywood. It uses a non-linear narrative structure to depict a variety of arcs, which include two hitmen who have darkly humorous conversations, an actress who gets in trouble after a fun night out, and a Bonnie-and-Clyde-esque couple who hype themselves up for a robbery.

It's hard to put a finger on precisely what makes this film so good — an all-star cast trading barbs with each other from Tarantino's whip-smart script and playing with editing conventions to tell a non-linear story are two of the top reasons. But perhaps most of all, Pulp Fiction is just cool . There's no other word for it. From the stylish hitmen played with panache by Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta to the soundtrack of absolute bangers from start to finish, this film epitomized the mid-90s. It's one of the most influential American films of the decade.

Pulp Fiction

  • The Shawshank Redemption


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  1. The Matrix movie review & film summary (1999)

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    Whoa! Neo is back in the first Matrix movie in 18 years, and it just might be the best sequel yet. The first reviews of The Matrix Resurrections are mostly favorable, acknowledging that it's less interested in innovation than emphasizing what truly works in the franchise: the romance.. Yes, Trinity (Carrie Anne-Moss) is back as well, and her chemistry with Keanu Reeves as Neo is said to be ...

  17. The Matrix (1999)

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    Plucked out of the Matrix by the freedom fighters, he is trained to fight. Then reintroduced into the Matrix, Neo must defeat the Machines. Positive Elements: Truth is worth more than life itself for the freedom fighters. Reality, regardless of how dreary, is better for man than the mindless exercise of comfort and luxury easily provided by the ...

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