How do you rank the Matrix movies? Do you rank them by release, thinking the quality drops as the series goes on, or do you have a funky method to your madness?
Let me help guide you on your way with my perspective on the Matrix movies, as someone who grew up with them.
It’s kind of difficult to make your mind up about which ones are better than others. By the time of the second Matrix film, the franchise decided to go in a slightly different direction than what the original had set up, going harder on the leather, action and martial arts.
While the original was fairly well-rounded in its own themes, the following second and third movies lent more in on the aesthetics and cool visual effects. It all boils down to what you like the most.
Let’s see how far the rabbit hole goes, before all of the Matrix movies (except Resurrections) come to Stan later this month.
The Matrix movie was, in my opinion, the best, focusing the least on the leather-clad sci-fi aesthetics and the most on what really is reality. Though the original Matrix movie did have its fair share of leather, action and bullet-time (including the famous bullet-dodging scene), it also went the hardest on how we perceive reality (blue pills, red pills, black cat deja vu, all of it).
But, compared to the second and third movies, it’s also the least energetic (despite being high action). While action-focused watchers may be more interested in the intense kung-fu and robot war scenes of Reloaded and Revolutions, The Matrix is the king.
The Matrix: Reloaded
The bullet-time of the original Matrix movie came full circle in The Matrix: Reloaded, but it was to the detriment of some of the more reality-questioning themes of the first film. The Matrix: Reloaded is a terrific action flick, but it’s difficult to call it a classic when it exists in the shadow of such a great film. You’d have tremendous fun rewatching this film, but if you’re after the themes that made the original so great, they’re not really in abundance.
The Matrix: Resurrections
The Matrix Resurrections, the most recent film in the series (released in 2021, 18 years after Revolutions brought the trilogy to a close), is an odd movie, cutting an almost-perfect slice between action and building on the philosophy of the first film. Actually, in a way, it’s more meta than the first film, directly criticising its own existence as a corporate-ordered reboot (even name-dropping Warner Brothers along the way). I think I loved it, but I’m not sure. I’m not sure what I know anymore.
I respect the hustle of Lana Wachowski making this film.
The Matrix: Revolutions
The Matrix: Revolutions is a straight-up action flick. It’s not on the same level as the other films, not at all, but it’s a more than average action film, casting away from the philosophies that made The Matrix so good and fully embracing mech battles and CGI-heavy fights. It’s a good flick, but it lacks the substance of the others. Still, essential viewing for a Matrix fan.
If you’ve still got Matrix-fever after seeing the movies ranked, why not check out some of the comics or the games? Additionally, The Matrix Awakens is a terrific Unreal Engine 5 tech demo, if you’re craving a gameplay hit (it somehow even shoehorns in some snide “creative control” dialogue, which feels very on-brand).
While you’re here, why not check out our article on the upcoming sci-fi, fantasy and horror flicks set to release this year.