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Keanu Reeves in The Matrix

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What is The Matrix? The Matrix is a hit blend of complex science fiction with graphic novel style action from the Wachowskis, starring Keanu Reeves, that imagines a dystopian world hidden from humanity through a virtual mask that convinced 1999 audiences to question their reality. What if I told you that it was not the only one?

Not to downplay the originality of The Matrix, but it was not the first film to propose concepts of technology sealing society’s downfall into a claustrophobic post-apocalypse, nor was it the last to feature leather-clad badasses in shades taking on armies of emotionless redshirts amid mind-bending visual effects. In fact, several examples of such films are available right now to stream on various platforms.

Where we go from there is a choice I leave to you. You exit out of this article, you log into Netflix, and watch your favorite dystopian sci-fi action film for the umpteenth time. You stay on this page and I will show you how the rabbit-hole goes when it comes to films available to stream that you and other fans of The Matrix will love.

Kiefer Sutherland and Rufus Sewell in Dark City

Dark City (1998)

An amnesiac (Rufus Sewell) struggles to regain his memory and figure out why he is wanted for murder after he awakens in a strange, dismal world controlled by a group of inhuman beings.

Why The Matrix Fans Will Like It: Alex Proyas’ neo noir tale of an oppressive, futuristic society has long been a subject of comparison to the Wachowskis’ hit, which came out just a year later, with some calling it weirder, darker, and even better.

Stream it on Vudu here

Joseph Gordon-Levitt fights off a dream in Inception

Inception (2010)

In a world in which dreams can be bought and sold, a skilled memory thief (Leonard DiCaprio) and his team are hired to complete the opposite task of implanting an idea into the subconscious of a powerful business executive.

Why The Matrix Fans Will Like It: If not for the highly imaginative, Oscar-winning visual effects, the concepts of technology used to invade the mind and artificial realities are sure to make fans feel right at home with Christopher Nolan’s mind-bending classic.

Stream it on Netflix here

Kurt Russell in Escape From New York

Escape From New York (1981)

In a war-torn, crime-ridden United States, Air Force One crash lands inside the maximum security prison that was once New York City, convincing the police force to offer a hardened criminal (Kurt Russell) a pardon if he can bring the President out and alive within 24 hours.

Why The Matrix Fans Will Like It: John Carpenter’s politically charged B-movie is rich in claustrophobic, post-apocalyptic thrills, but the secret to why it has remained a much-worshipped cult classic decades later is the irresistible, authority-defying attitude of eye-patched outlaw Snake Plissken - arguably Russell's best character and one the actor still holds dear to this day.

Stream it on Shudder here or on Amazon Prime here

The heroic titular rag doll takes on his robot enemy in 9

9 (2009)

A rag doll (Elijah Wood) learns he and the eight other hand-stitched beings like him are among the last living in the aftermath of a cataclysmic war between man and machine, but soon discover that they may hold the key to humanity’s last chance for salvation.

Why The Matrix Fans Will Like It: Essentially, if you replace the characters of The Matrix with sentient rag dolls and throw out the artificial reality plot point, you still have much of the same post-apocalyptic, technophobic, prophesied hero’s journey in this animated gem based on director Shane Acker's original short film and produced by Tim Burton.

Stream it on Netflix here

Harrison Ford in Blade Runner

Blade Runner (1982)

A cop (Harrison Ford) who specializes in the hunting and “retiring” of human-like, artificial organisms known as “Replicants,” which are outlawed on Earth, is assigned to locate four hiding out in a futuristic Los Angeles.

Why The Matrix Fans Will Like It: Based on a novel by Phillip K. Dick, Ridley Scott’s sci-fi noir is, like The Matrix, highly regarded for visual effects and visions of dystopian society way ahead of their time, but the film, as well as its 2017 sequel, is still often referenced and dissected for considering how and when artificial intelligence could become more human than humans and, therefore, should it be treated as such?

Stream it on Netflix here

Christian Bale in Equilibrium

Equilibrium (2002)

John Preston (Christian Bale) is the top enforcer of a law requiring all citizens to consume an emotion-numbing drug, until the day he misses a dose and his newfound feelings help him realize the tyrannical nature of his world, motivating him to achieve ultimate freedom.

Why The Matrix Fans Will Like It: From the depressingly bleak futuristic setting inhabiting an unwittingly manipulated populace, highly stylized action sequences, and long, black robes making up much of the costuming, this futuristic thriller, that some might call a guilty pleasure, feels like a direct descendent of The Matrix.

Stream it on Netflix here

Jeff Bridges in Tron

TRON (1982)

A computer hacker and arcade champion named Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) must compete in the games he has mastered for real when he is abducted into a digital world.

Why The Matrix Fans Will Like It: Unlike The Matrix, the visual effects of this Disney cult classic, which were experimental for the time, have not aged the best, but the concept of being trapped in a virtual reality is more intriguing and relevant today than ever.

Stream it on Disney+ here

Keanu Reeves in John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum

John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum (2019)

Picking up right where the second chapter left off, legendary assassin John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is branded “Excommunicado” and made top target of assassins all over the world.

Why The Matrix Fans Will Like It: In addition to the casting of Keanu Reeves (directed by his Neo stunt double and reunited once again with Morpheus himself, Laurence Fishburne), the John Wick films are lauded for their revolutionarily kick-ass action and clever world-building of an underground society enforcing order in plain sight. These elements are most prevalent in Parabellum, therefore making it the installment most referential to The Matrix yet.

Stream it on HBO Now here

Tom Cruise in Minority Report

Minority Report (2002)

In 2054, crime can be prevented and the chief of Washington D.C.’s special “Precrime” unit (Tom Cruise) is predicted to commit a murder within the next 36 hours, putting him on a race against time to find a potential alternate future that will prove his innocence.

Why The Matrix Fans Will Like It: Director Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Phillip K. Dick’s short story is more than popcorn excitement, but a remarkable (and often quite bleak) vision of the mid-21st Century with a twist on the mind-altering technology plot element that makes the story’s “heroes” (the police) the oppressive ones by taking possession of three reluctant clairvoyants for their own morally questionable purposes.

Stream it on Netflix here

Shotaro Kaneda from Akira

Akira (1988)

Post-World War III “Neo-Tokyo” faces even greater threat when a top secret government research program turns a young biker into a telekinetic with sinister intent, leaving it up to the teen’s friend to stop him from causing a cataclysmic force from reemerge.

Why The Matrix Fans Will Like It: This classic Japanese anime masterpiece is also a staple of the cyberpunk genre, which The Matrix clearly takes inspiration from, for its main hero’s instantly recognizable look, its iconic depiction of a war-torn society, and the thrilling depiction of science gone wrong.

Stream it on Hulu with subtitles here or dubbed in English here

The feast born from The Platform

The Platform (2019)

In a vertically built prison of an unknown number of cells holding two inmates each, a platform descends from the top bearing food that only lasts so many levels, but one prisoner seeks a way to change that.

Why The Matrix Fans Will Like It: The message of this intense Spanish-language societal commentary leaves a bit more to be desired than the subtlety-lacking The Matrix, but the aggressively grim setting and themes perseverance amongst deadly circumstances should allow it to earn a place within fans’ wheelhouses.

Stream it on Netflix here.

Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)

A pair of dim-witted Californians (Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter) are given access to a time-traveling phone booth by futuristic visitor Rufus (George Carlin) in hopes to create the perfect history project so they can keep their band from separating and preserve the global peace they will one day inspire.

Why The Matrix Fans Will Like It: Most fans of Keanu Reeves will refer to Neo as his defining sci-fi character, but the actor’s roots in the genre began with this thoroughly joyous ride through history that will inspire you to be “excellent to each other.”

Stream it on Starz here or Sling here

What do you think? Are these sci-fi masterpieces worthy of The Matrix fans’ love, or do you think I have fallen too deep down the rabbit hole? Let us know in the comments and be sure to check back for more information and updates on the sci-fi classic and other streaming recommendations here on CinemaBlend.

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