Lilly and Lana Wachowski have made careers from breaking the mould and offering English-language cinema (and TV) interesting and fresh universes to explore. Their adeptness at building new and exciting worlds, combined with their desires to push the boundaries of technology, are matched only by their preference to showcase stories that are purposefully inclusive of age, gender, race and sexuality. Despite the brave and positive steps the sisters have taken in the midst of a conservative and problematic Hollywood studio system, the jury is still out on whether or not the quality of their finished work adds up to the sums of their parts.
In this article, all 7 of the films the Wachowskis have co-directed will be ranked from worst to best. Where the films stop being bad and become good will be up to you. Why don’t you let us know in the comments?
“This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. 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.” – Morpheus (The Matrix – 1999)
7. The Matrix Revolutions (2003)
The Matrix Revolutions was the third and final instalment in the Matrix franchise and it sits at the foot of this list for that exact reason. It’s not that it was necessarily worse than some of the entries ahead, it’s more that it was bad and came with a huge stench of disappointment. How could they end something so good, so poorly?
Revolutions concluded the tale of Mr. Anderson – aka. Neo (Keanu Reeves) – overcoming the vicious technological overlords that had enslaved humanity and placed it in a virtual reality. The story of revolution (hence the title) had followed two solid movies depicting the rise of the chosen one and subsequent demolishing of the walls that bounded the virtual world from the real world, yet to fully understand the plot it was demanded by the screenwriter-directors that Matrix properties were explored outside of the film universe itself, not only making it more difficult and expensive for audiences of the time to fully understand every story thread of the film, but making it nigh impossible for a contemporary audience to follow it to the fullest extent courtesy of outdated video games available exclusively for outdated video game systems and so on. Even with full knowledge, there were plot holes as wide as the Grand Canyon and the CG effects don’t stand up to today’s standards – they probably don’t even stand up to the standards of The Matrix, released four years prior.
Overall, this is the type of sequel that was so poor it inevitably damaged the original, which is a shame given that particular movie’s great qualities.
6. Jupiter Ascending (2015)
Jupiter Ascending was another Wachowski film that was hard to follow given the filmmakers’ assumption that their brand new universe was free to be explored with little to no explanation. What’s worse is that unlike in their The Matrix series, the siblings offered nothing as substantial in terms of thematic exploration, nor did they manage to capture the time period of its release as accurately as with other projects.
Jupiter Ascending instead felt like an attempt to create a studio-driven original universe to rival those of the re-emerging Star Wars universe, as well as Star Trek and of course the MCU, coming across as forced cash-grabbing more than their other work.
Notable mostly for a performance by then Oscar-nominee Eddie Redmayne that was received more harshly than it perhaps deserved to be, even the star power of Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis – both the height of their powers – couldn’t stop Ascending from being a very expensive mistake.