The Matrix franchise holds an essential place in sci-fi film history for its groundbreaking visual effects, action sequences, and thought-provoking philosophical themes. Ranking the entries in this landmark series is no easy task, but it is one we are here to do.
Each brings something unique to the table, from the original’s expert blend of fantastic action scenes and mind-bending questions about reality to the sequels’ expansive worldbuilding and epic fight choreography. While opinions vary on which sequel is strongest, most agree The Matrix remains a masterclass in sci-fi storytelling that has yet to be matched.
Each entry offered something different, each with its own unique take on the franchise and universe. The Animatrix anthology strengthens the franchise mythology through its animated side stories, while The Matrix Resurrections delivers an intriguing commentary on reboot culture. Though not every installment lives up to the first—or even comes close—each expands the Wachowskis’ vision in compelling ways. Determining a definitive order requires weighing strengths like innovation, entertainment value, and faithfulness to what made these movies resonate. While the debate will continue, The Matrix series reshaped action cinema and left an indelible imprint on pop culture.
9. The Matrix Awakens
While it may be hard to describe as a game, the last entry on our Matrix rankings, The Matrix Awakens, is a unique installment in The Matrix franchise. The free experience incorporates cutting-edge technology and blends live-action with animated sequences into something impressive, even if it is incredibly short. This interactive experience allows viewers to immerse themselves in the world of The Matrix and engage with the narrative in new ways. Developed using Unreal Engine 5, The Matrix Awakens features digital versions of Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss, reprising their roles as Neo and Trinity.
Fans can participate in a high-speed chase through a stunningly realistic cityscape and wield extraordinary abilities firsthand. By leveraging next-generation graphics capabilities, this project brings the universe of The Matrix to life in a brand new way, giving audiences an exciting taste of video game storytelling possibilities on the horizon.
8. The Matrix Online
The Matrix Online was a pretty interesting game when it launched in 2005 and did some unique things, earning it a spot on our list, albeit not a high spot. As a direct sequel to The Matrix Revolutions, it continued the story by letting players jack into the Matrix itself. You’d think that premise would make for a fantastic game, but honestly, most people considered it a bit of a letdown.
Gameplay-wise, it was a pretty standard MMORPG. You had your usual classes: quests, crafting, and combat. The Matrix Online was not exactly breaking the mold there. The setting and story were cool, don’t get me wrong, but the gameplay itself felt very cookie-cutter. Players often described the combat as feeling floaty and unsatisfying when they dove in, and the missions were repetitive, sending you to the same spots in the city repeatedly.
One neat thing was how the story evolved based on players’ actions. So, the game world changed and grew along with what The Matrix Online players were doing. That’s ambitious for an MMO, even today! But the game never really lived up to its potential or players’ expectations.
The Matrix Online will mainly be remembered for continuing the story from the movies, not for being an innovative or enjoyable game. It was cool to see familiar faces like Morpheus and Niobe again. But as a game, it was painfully average. The Matrix deserved a much more memorable video game adaptation than this.
7. Enter the Matrix
Yet another The Matrix video game on the list, Enter the Matrix, was a companion to the 2003 film The Matrix Reloaded, released that same year. The game features an original storyline that runs parallel to the movie’s plot and follows the adventures of Niobe and Ghost, who are supporting characters from the film. Enter the Matrix allows players to explore The Matrix world through action-packed gameplay while uncovering a narrative that complements the events of The Matrix Reloaded.
One of the features that Enter the Matrix is still known for was the fact that the game included over an hour of live-action scenes filmed specifically for the game and integrated through cutscenes. These were shot during the production of The Matrix Reloaded using the actual cast members like Jada Pinkett Smith as Niobe and Anthony Wong as Ghost. The high production value of the live-action content helped blur the line between game and film, creating a more immersive companion experience.
In terms of gameplay, Enter the Matrix combines third-person shooting and hand-to-hand combat as players take on agents and other enemies. The ability to manipulate time and engage bullet-time effects during action sequences ties directly into the key concepts of the Matrix universe established in the films. Overall, Enter the Matrix offered fans a chance to further explore The Matrix’s cinematic world through an original and complementary storyline, high-quality live-action cutscenes, and familiar Matrix-inspired gameplay mechanics.
6. The Matrix: Path of Neo
Yes, there are more games set in The Matix universe. Even if it can’t live up to the movies, The Matrix: Path of Neo still managed to be something unique and exciting. Developed by Shiny Entertainment and released in 2005, this game lets you relive the key moments from the iconic Matrix trilogy. This game finally allowed fans to step into the role of the trilogy’s protagonist, Neo, and relive his journey across all three films. After lackluster attempts like Enter the Matrix, The Matrix: Path of Neo was a refreshing experience that captured the style and excitement of the movies.
As Neo, you get to partake in the series’ signature action sequences like the lobby shootout and the freeway chase from The Matrix Reloaded. The game nails the over-the-top combat as you perform gravity-defying moves and wield an arsenal of weapons against agents and machines. Slow motion effects and a free-flowing fighting system make you feel like the ultimate badass. The level design impressively recreates scenes like the dojo and the subway station for you to explore. While the training segments drag on too long initially, the game finds its footing once Neo becomes “The One.”
People had some gripes with The Matrix: Path of Neo, though. Many of these come from the disjointed storytelling—which awkwardly stitches together cutscenes—and some repetitive enemy encounters. However, adding an alternate ending filmed by the Wachowskis provides a neat bonus for fans. The Matrix: Path of Neo captures the kinetic action that makes The Matrix exciting and finally allows players to jump into Neo’s trenchcoat. It’s easily the best Matrix video game adaptation to date.
5. The Matrix Revolutions
The Matrix Revolutions wraps up the sci-fi trilogy as the final installment, or at least it was until The Matrix Resurrections was released. This one focuses on Neo and Trinity’s separate missions, with Neo confronting the villainous Agent Smith. At the same time, Trinity tries to save the last human city of Zion from impending attack by the machines.
There’s a monumentally epic final confrontation between Neo and Hugo Weaving’s Smith that provides a satisfying, emotional end to their rivalry. The film also has a strong romantic core in Trinity’s desperate attempt to rescue Neo, which gives their love story a heartfelt conclusion—I’m a sucker for a good love story. The Matrix Revolutions delivers on the sci-fi spectacle, though its philosophy isn’t as strong as the first film. Still, it’s an exciting finish filled with dramatic action sequences, and it brings closure to the franchise (at least until The Matrix Resurrections revived it—get it?).
4. The Matrix Reloaded
Not nearly as good as the film that spawned the franchise, The Matrix Reloaded was a solid entry and allowed the filmmakers to expand The Matrix universe further. As the adrenaline-fueled second chapter, The Matrix Reloaded impresses with visually stunning action sequences like the incredible highway chase scene. It expands the universe, introducing new characters like the mysterious Architect and ominous twins. However, it departs from the philosophical depth of the original, focusing more on high-octane thrills.
Unfortunately, The Matrix Reloaded features convoluted plot developments, which means it loses the simplicity that made The Matrix so compelling. Still, the expanded world and fluid, innovative action cement The Matrix Reloaded as a worthy, if imperfect, continuation of the saga. While it doesn’t quite hit the same high as The Matrix, the sequel delivers on exhilarating sci-fi escapism, further developing the franchise’s lore.
3. The Matrix Resurrections
While not nearly as good as the movie that started the franchise, The Matrix Resurrections brings back the meta-narrative and visual flair of the original The Matrix trilogy while introducing exciting new cast members. Lana Wachowski faces the challenge of justifying Neo and Trinity’s return after their apparent deaths. She pulls it off by having Neo trapped in a new Matrix simulation where he believes the original movies were just video games he designed. This allows for plenty of self-referential humor and mind-bending questions about the nature of reality.
New characters like Jessica Henwick’s Bugs and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s Morpheus/Agent Smith add fresh dynamics. At the same time, Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss slide back into their iconic roles, and it feels like not a minute has passed. The movie isn’t perfect, but it recaptures the innovative spirit that made The Matrix a pop culture phenomenon. Lana Wachowski succeeds in continuing the story in an entertaining way that provides closure while leaving the door open for more adventures in this fascinating fictional world—because we all know The Matrix can’t be over yet.
2. The Animatrix
While not part of the main series and released as a stand-alone release, it is hard not to include The Animatrix on any ranking. For those who may not know the franchise, The Animatrix is a series of animated shorts released between the second and third Matrix films that delve into the history and backstory of the Matrix world. Utilizing a variety of animation styles from renowned directors, the shorts explore different narratives that flesh out the franchise’s mythology.
While the quality varies across the nine shorts, with some stronger than others, they collectively enrich the Matrix universe in their own unique ways. The diversity of visuals and storytelling on display allows The Animatrix to stand out from typical animated tie-in projects. Despite unevenness in the writing, the imagination and artistry behind the animated anthology contribute meaningful new dimensions to the overall Matrix saga.
1. The Matrix
It is hard to deny that The Matrix was one of the most unique movies to come out in the action genre in the past 30 years, so much so that it has become a must-see for any action fans. The original Matrix film from 1999 was just so incredibly groundbreaking and inventive. The Matrix completely redefined what was possible in filmmaking. The Wachowskis constructed this tight, compelling narrative that kept you glued to the screen and still holds up today—those stunning slow-motion bullet-time scenes. You still can’t top that! They were able to create this fully realized, expansive world that felt totally believable and lived in.
If that were not enough, the action was just insane, like nothing we had seen before. It threw the rulebook right out the window. But what really made The Matrix resonate was that it worked on this profound emotional level, too. It posed these big existential questions about the nature of reality, good vs evil, and fate vs free will. The Wachowskis created something that was thrilling yet profoundly thoughtful. It just captivated audiences in a compelling way that has yet to be replicated.
What is your favorite piece of The Matrix universe? Did we get it right?