The bonds of siblinghood can forge great things, and in the case of Lana and Lilly Wachowski, they have created a vision that has revolutionized the modern approach to sci-fi action cinema. Even if their ideas for individual stylistic and artistic flourishes may not be entirely original, their remarkable talent for combining the best of both the action and sci-fi universes with high-concept, nearly mythological storytelling has resulted in a film that has been imitated, emulated, and parodied arguably more than any other in genre history, The Matrix (1999). Born Larry and Andy Wachowski (the siblings would later each transition to women and take the names Lana and Lilly, respectively) in Chicago to a businessman father and a mother who worked as a nurse and painter, the pair flexed their creative muscles early on with frequent meditations on current perceptions of reality and by attempting to conjure up new and original variations of those perceptions. After attending Bard College for two years and subsequently dropping out, Lana worked as a painter and carpenter while writing and taking in a steady diet of comic books, in addition to continuing his philosophical debates with Lilly, who had likewise dropped out of Emerson College. Inspired by a book about legendary filmmaker Roger Corman, Lana insisted that Lilly read the book, and the duo decided to test their storytelling skills in the form of screenplay writing.
Penning a Corman-style yarn concerning cannibalism of the upper classes, the Wachowskis found the Hollywood elite hesitant to embrace the disturbing screenplay, though frequent positive comments regarding its originality and creativity inspired them to keep pursuing their cinematic endeavors. Re-approaching the same studios a short time later with a script for the film that would eventually become Assassins (1995), the duo found more disappointment when the film failed to ignite the box office and decided to take matters into their own hands. Serving as both writers and directors of the stylish neo-noir thriller Bound (1996) found them the recipients of more positive critical feedback, and the clever film developed a dedicated following when released on home video. On the heels of Bound's success, they decided to return to a script that they had been developing for some years. Incorporating their frequent philosophical meditations on mythology and perceptions of reality in the internet age into a high-concept action screenplay that would utilize the most modern developments of special effects combined with thrilling martial arts, the siblings teamed with artists Geof Darrow and Steve Skrose to create an enticingly kinetic comic storyboard to pitch to Warner Bros. production head Lorenzo di Bonaventura and producer Joel Silver. The resulting product, The Matrix, with its intellectually highbrow mix of mysticism and mythology, Hong Kong-inspired action, and ultra-stylish cyber-noir visuals, broke box-office records and left fans thirsting for more, and it wasn't long before the Wachowskis began work on two films that would complete the trilogy about humankind's struggle to reclaim its minds from an ominous and far-reaching conspiracy in which nothing is as it seems.
After finishing up with the Matrix trilogy, the Wachowskis wrote and produced the graphic novel adaptation V for Vendetta, and in 2008 returned to the directors chairs to mount a visually splashy big-screen version of the cartoon series Speed Racer. In 2012, the duo directed Cloud Atlas, a sweeping drama about how people's actions reverberate through history with an all-star cast that included Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, and Hugh Grant. The pair next tackled Jupiter Ascending, released in 2015.