Keanu Reeves ‘Matrix’ Movies: A Complete Guide

by Taylor Cunningham
(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Last year, Keanu Reeves brought us a new chapter in the Matrix movies franchise. And it’s bound to make you question the truth of reality once again. But since it’s been over 20 years since we first joined him inside the dystopian beginnings of 2090, jumping back into the story may not be so easy because—let’s be honest— it’s anything but uncomplicated.

So before you sit down and watch our futuristic hero battle a new enemy of mankind, you should brush up on everything that happened in the original three movies of decades past. And to help get you started, we created a complete guide to the films with absolutely everything you need to know to have a full-fledged binge-watching weekend.

1. The Matrix

Release Date: March 31, 1999 Where to Watch: HBO MAX, Hulu
Worldwide Box Office Sales: $465,974,198

This movie is the one that started the entire revolution. The movie where Morpheus speaks one of the most iconic lines in film history that sends Thomas Anderson—a.k.a Neo—on a quest to save humankind from its simulated chains.

“You take the blue pill… the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill… you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes”

In The Matrix, an enlightened group of outcasts shows computer hacker Neo the truth about reality, or rather what he thought was reality. Once he chooses the red pill, Neo learns that humans are used as a lifeforce for machines and they’ve been living inside a computer-simulated world.

Morpheus, the group’s sage leader believes that Neo is “the one,” a prophesized savior who is able to defy all the rules on The Matrix. And he teaches Neo how to control his surroundings so he can overtake AI’s called Agent Smith who keep the masses blinded.

By the end, Neo’s natural-born hero abilities rise after the Smiths nearly kill him. And he recognizes that he’s able to bend The Matrix to his will.

Before the machines retreat, Neo proclaims that he will show humans “a world without rules and controls, without borders or boundaries. A world where anything is possible.”

2. The Matrix Reloaded

Release Date: May 15, 2003Where to Watch: HBO MAX, Hulu
Worldwide Box Office Sales: $738,576,929

The second installment of the franchise hit theaters more than four years after the original film. But the story picks up only six months later as Neo is working on fulfilling the promise he made after defeating Agent Smith.

The Matrix Reloaded shows the group of hackers living in an underground city of Zion, which is offline and completely disconnected from the world of ones and zeros.

While a large population of humans has been freed, millions still remain in the alternate reality. And the machines are working to drill into the earth to kill everyone living in the city.

As Neo prepares to battle the encroaching enemies, he receives a message from the clairvoyant Oracle, and she tells him that in order to fulfill his destiny, he must breach a location inside the Matrix called “the Source.”

When Neo goes back into the simulation to find the Source, he meets his old enemy Smith, who no longer works as an agent inside the program. Instead, he’s adapted to the challenges and has figured out how to copy his code into humans like a computer virus.

3. The Matrix Revolutions

Release Date: November 5, 2003Where to Watch: HBO MAX, Hulu
Worldwide Box Office Sales: $427,300,260

It’s not until The Matrix Revolutions that the machines begin to near the city of escaped humans. And when the second movie left off, Neo was trapped inside a sort of purgatory between the Matrix and the real world. But his allies, Morpheus, Trinity, and Seraph, manage to break him loose.

However, once he’s back in Zion, the Oracle warns Neo that Smith has taken over the Matrix and spreading into the real world. So to kill Smith before he gains too much control, Neo and Trinity travel to the machine city. And when they arrive, they learn that Smith has gone completely rogue.

The machines agree to leave Zion at peace as long as Neo agrees to eliminate Smith once and for all. And as he did in the first movie, Neo enters an epic mind-bending battle with the computer program in order to save humans from his grasp.

4. The Matrix Resurrections

Release Date: December 22, 2021Where to Watch: HBO MAX
Worldwide Box Office Sales: $156,505,848

Since The Matrix Resurrections is only a few months old, we won’t spoil the plot too much. But what we can tell you is that the story picks up 60 years after Neo deletes Smith from the system. And humans are living in a period of peace and harmony.

However, there are some entities that don’t like the newfound civilization. And they will force Neo to once again choose the truth pill and travel down the rabbit hole to continue his responsibility as “the One.”

Now that you know everything about these Keanu Reeves classics, we enthrall you to spend a few days revisiting the stories or watching them for the first time. But as Morpheus famously said in movie one, we “can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it”