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Movies you should watch if you like The Matrix

So, you've taken the red pill. Your mind is freed, you're able to control robots with your mental powers, you've saved humanity, and brought about an end to centuries of war. But now? You've got nothing to watch! Never fear, Looper is here to help.

The Matrix changed cinema forever, both with its innovative filmmaking techniques and with a story and concept that made an entire generation go "whoa." It launched Keanu Reeves from being an action star and heartthrob (not a bad starting place) to becoming one of the most beloved movie stars of all time. Due to the heart pounding action sequences, the compelling characters, and the mind bending storyline, The Matrix has a huge following of fans and is now taught, discussed, and dissected in some of the seminal books on filmmaking and screenwriting.

True, there's nothing quite like a movie where you can download "kung fu" directly into your brain, but there are plenty of other trippy, amazing films out there that you'll love if you're a fan of The Matrix.

Just like The Matrix, Inception makes us question reality

The Matrix really became the gold standard of movies that ask "how real is our reality?" Anyone who saw it, at least for a moment, had to question the world and wonder if whether or not the stuff we see and feel every day actually exists. Well, gang, we're not living in an alternate reality, we've got to make the best of it, because this is the only reality we have.

Or is it? The 2010 hit Inception begged this very question and gave no satisfying answers — but in a very satisfying way. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, and Tom Hardy and other superstars, this film is packed with great moments that will stick in your memory forever. Even if the plot leaves you scratching your head.

Similar to what the Wachowski sisters achieved with their masterpiece, the beautiful filmmaking in Inception pushes the boundaries of what audiences thought was possible on the big screen. The question posed by Inception — how can we know if what we experience as reality is truth — is something contemplated by children first realizing their own cognizance, and it's an idea that rolls around in our human experience, accompanying us our whole lives. Maybe this is why Inception and The Matrix are so compelling.

And whether we're trapped in a dream, a simulation, or that big universe marble from Men in Black, one thing that's certain is that Inception has a great soundtrack.

Existenz is a truly twisty sci-fi flick

If you've never heard of Existenz and you give it a watch after reading this, you'll be shocked that you'd never seen it before. After all, it seems like a movie that should've been a major hit. Of course, this Cronenberg flick was actually released a scant few weeks after The Matrix, and that's maybe why it doesn't get the love it deserves. This movie has flown under the radar for years, and we're here to give Existenz its due.

While the name sounds a little reminiscent of a gas station pill, pay that no mind. This '90s classic may be a little darker and a little weirder than The Matrix, but it's got a similar (albeit ickier) vibe that will surely scratch the itch when you just gotta have more twisty, reality blending plot. Starring Jude Law and Jennifer Jason Leigh, Existenz is set in a near future of our reality where game designers are massive celebrities (as they should be), and the truth about the world is more complicated than it first appears. This wild ride of a movie thrills from start to finish. Classic Cronenberg weird outs, some fun and squishy gun play, and obvious hotties in the leading rolls? Yes, please.

John Wick gets some of the Matrix gang back together

Alright Keanu heads, you already know and love these movies. But for those who aren't intimately familiar with the shoot-'em-up, writhing, frenetic action of John Wick and its sequels, get ready for a wild ride.

Keanu Reeves — the one, the only, the savior of Zion — is at the helm of these hit films. Like his role in The Matrix, his character here, the titular John Wick, is not one to back down from a fight. Or two. Or 200. Essentially, this is the story of a man who loved a woman, and then who loved a dog, and then goes on the most brutal, brazen rampage ever to grace the silver screen.

This is a love letter to action scenes, and if you've got a taste for a bit of the old ultraviolence, hot dog, this is your jam. Behind the scenes, there's a lot to love about this franchise as well. One of the best and most prolific stunt people in the film industry, Chad Stahelski, is the director of John Wick. Before that? He was a stunt double for Keanu Reeves in The Matrix. And on top of that, Morpheus himself, Laurence Fishburne, eventually shows up in the series!

Akira is landmark film for both sci-fi and anime

This seminal piece of animation is a must-see. Set in the dystopian Neo-Tokyo in the year 2019, Akira is a piece of art from start to finish, and even the most jaded adults who think anime is only for kids will drool over the gorgeous art and come away affected from the masterful storytelling.

Originally, upon this film's release in 1988 in Japan, the movie didn't make much of a splash. It was released the year after in the United States, and it began to pick up steam with critics and fans alike. Today, Akira is considered one of the most important science fiction films ever made, as well as a landmark piece of animation that set the bar for generations to come and influenced thousands of other artists and filmmakers.

Similar to The Matrix, the story centers around a young man trying to save his friend from a nefarious government plot. Plus, there are some extremely cool motorcycles that will make you want to take to the open road on a futuristic hog, and then there's the rad costume design that will make you want to dress in red from tip to toe. If you see only one movie on this list, make it Akira.

The Animatrix is perfect if you need that Matrix fix

The Animatrix will have a familiar set of philosophical talking points and a world of lore that you'll absolutely adore ... because it's set in the universe of The Matrix. One of the more unique entries on this list, The Animatrix is a collection of nine stories that take place inside and outside the Matrix, and the stories take place before the final events of The Matrix Revolutions.

Each story is animated in a totally different style, making this film watchable all at once or piece meal if that's more your thing. Plus, you'll see some familiar faces and hear familiar voices like Neo and Trinity, both voiced by their original actors, Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss.

Covering a wide array of human (and robot!) tales and emotions, this is a do-not-miss film for any true Matrix lover. Four of the short films in this movie were written by the Wachowski sisters themselves! There are some sweet stories that highlight the strange and simple beauty of any world humans inhabit, stories that highlight the indomitable will and spirit that sets humanity apart, and some awesome shorts that fill out more of the history and give a fuller picture of the world before the robot uprising that eventually led to humanity surviving underground. In other words, this series of trippy and beautiful shorts is one you'll want to watch over and over again.

2001: A Space Odyssey is mind-bending sci-fi at its best

The granddaddy of modern mind-bending sci-fi, 2001: A Space Odyssey is a Stanley Kubrick classic. And if you haven't seen it, now's your chance. After all, 2001 changed the world of film and has inspired generations of filmmakers since its initial release in 1968. Though the release date is receding into the ever more distant past, this cinema classic is as relevant as ever.

Many critics have named this movie as "the greatest film of all time" and after one viewing, you'll see why. Beginning with an iconic sci-fi scene where ape-like hominids learn to use a tool as a weapon to gain dominance for the first time, the film then jumps to an imagining of the year 2001. (Looking back at it decades later, the now retro-future look is glorious.) Here, a scientist embarks on a quest to investigate a new, shocking, and profound discovery, and his journey takes him to the furthest reaches of his own mind.

Featuring the now classic trope of the rogue A.I., as well as plenty of gorgeous shots that make every frame of this movie desktop wallpaper-worthy, you'll clearly see how this movie strongly influenced everything that followed in the science fiction genre. This is also the film that actual astrophysicists have praised because there's no sound in space! Matrix fans, check it out, you won't be disappointed. The ending sequence is one of greatest in movie history.

Speed Racer is perfect for Wachowski fans

This is a fun one. The Wachowskis took a departure from the tone of their mind-bending Matrix trilogy with this one and used their considerable talents to make something the whole family could enjoy. Speed Racer, released in 2008, is the adaptation of the beloved manga turned anime series with a mostly American cast. And it's one to watch if you want those gorgeous Wachowski visuals and fun, fast-paced action sequences, without all the doom and gloom of a post-apocalyptic society constantly on the brink of collapse. 

After all, this is about cars going real fast! A star-studded cast packed with fan favorites like John Goodman, Susan Sarandon, and Christina Ricci make this cult classic fun for everyone to watch, kids and adults alike. Though originally a box office bomb, Speed Racer has won over the hearts and minds of millions of fans since and is an underrated cult classic that you should absolutely not miss. Plus, there's a chimpanzee!

Dark City is like the pre-Matrix Matrix

Released the year before The Matrix dropped to win hearts and minds of audiences worldwide, Dark City quite possibly got overshadowed by its mind-bending cousin. However, there are a ton of similarities between The Matrix and Dark City, and if you're craving more dystopian, semi-futuristic, mind-melty goodness, this should be your next stop.

Starring the incredible Rufus Sewell, playing opposite Jennifer Connelly and William Hurt, this film sadly doesn't get the credit it deserves. A trippy trip exploring the concepts of memory, identity, control, self-actualization, and love, this forgotten '90s classic will hit a lot of the right notes for fans of The Matrix.

Without spoiling too much, the titular dark city is run by mysterious figures with unknown intentions. In the midst of this, Rufus Sewell's character wakes up with near total amnesia and has to piece together his past and his present, with hopes that he can be the one to bring about a brighter future. Will he be able to shed some light on this city of perpetual night? There's only one way to find out ... by watching Dark City, a movie that will leave you feeling paranoid for days.

Tron is full of computer worlds and fascinating effects

Incredibly stylish, wildly fun, a product of pure imagination run wild, the original Tron is another genre-defining film you've got to see if you're a Matrix fan. In Tron, the designers and programmers who get sucked into the virtual world know they're in a simulation ... it's getting out that could be deadly.

Released in 1982, this cult classic stars Jeff Bridges as Kevin Flynn (a supremely '80s character name) who's a programmer turned video game arcade owner turned virtual warrior. He and his buddies are up against a virtual intelligence seeking to increase its own power and rule the world. Sound familiar? This movie most likely influenced some of the thoughts behind The Matrix, from its philosophical ponderings about the role of technology in our lives to its exploration and experimentation with the (at the time) new advances of computer generated images as special effects.

With two Academy Award noms and a great soundtrack, Tron is a fantastic film that's stood the test of time. And you can brag to your friends that you watched a flick wholly inspired by the first time its creator, Steven Lisberger, saw the video game Pong.

Ghost in the Shell was a direct influence on The Matrix

Ghost in the Shell — the 1995 anime inspired by a manga of the same name — was initially, like many of the movies on our list, a box office flop. Sometimes people just aren't willing to take that red pill and recognize good art when they see it. Regardless of how it did in the first weeks after its release, this now beloved film grew into a cult classic, and from there, it gained the critical praise it deserved. Today, it's considered one of the best science fiction films of all time, and it's absolutely at the top of many best anime lists as well.

Though released in the mid-'90s, Ghost in the Shell is set in the year 2029. It takes place in an imagined Japan where human lives are intimately connected with the machines and technology around them. Following the life of a cyborg agent specializing in taking down cyber threats, this is a non-stop action thriller where the pacing and animation will keep you hooked all the way from start to finish, all while posing some serious philosophical questions.

In fact, Ghost in the Shell was a straight-up influence on The Matrix, as it majorly inspired some of the thinking and visuals of the Wachowskis' film. After all, this gorgeously animated movies explores similar themes of identity and its existence in relation to society. But if you don't want to spend time pondering all that, you can just watch really, really cool action sequences instead.

The Truman Show will have you laughing ... and wondering what's real

The '90s was a decade full of films about questioning reality. In addition to The Matrix, there was The Truman Show, a 1998 movie that proved Jim Carrey has some dramatic acting chops. As for the plot, the film is about a man who's had his entire life, from the womb until adulthood, filmed and broadcast as a TV show.

Sure, this movie definitely falls into a wholly different genre than the tale of Neo and his fight for freedom, but it's about a man grappling with his conception of reality and taking his fate into his own hands nonetheless. And yeah, Carrey is definitely a whole lot of fun in this thought-provoking comedy, but both his character and the film still address some heavy, existential questions. 

After all, when Truman begins to notice incongruities in his reality, like stage lights falling from the sky and a wife who's constantly shilling new kitchen gadgets, he starts to question everything. There aren't any killer robots, but there is a whole world waiting for him, a world he must fight to experience. This is definitely another movie that will make you look around and go ... what if?