'The Matrix', a cyberpunk thriller about computer hackers and alternate universes, was released in 1999 to little fanfare. The film then grossed $350 million at the box office and left millions of Americans wondering what happens next? Not since the original Star Wars trilogy have Americans been so obsessed with a film series. Like Star Wars, The Matrix may mark a generational evolution in our popular culture. But what is it about The Matrix series that attracts so many people of different races, classes, and ethnicities? The Matrix has inspired religious interpretations, explorations of its philosophical quandaries, action figures, and video games, bridging gaps in American culture like no other movie. From Midwestern college professors who use The Matrix to pose questions about the nature of control and self-determination, to religious pundits who use it as a platform to popularize anxieties about the apocalypse, no film has gotten so many different people talking, and talking to each other. Through interviews with dozens of individuals, including cast members, critics, and fans, New York Times reporter Michel Marriott uncovers the allure of The Matrix by examining its power as both a self-consciously intellectual film and a modern Hollywood blockbuster. Photographs are featured.