Johnny Klimek and Tom Tykwer’s The Matrix Resurrections bridges old and new semi-successfully with several stylistic and thematic reprisals from Don Davis’ iconic work for the franchise, it’s just a bit of a shame that the score descends into some rather generic and unremarkable action territory for much of the album.
A twinkle of percussion thrusts us right back into the Matrix universe in the first few seconds of Opening, with the dissonant, electronics-based Matrix theme (composed by the legendary Don Davis) then fading ominously through to fully cement the return. At this point rapid, increasingly frenetic strings then spring into the fray, surging the music forward to breakneck speed as composers Klimek and Tykwer waste no time in kicking off the orchestral action. Tensions are kept high for much of the remainder of the five minute setpiece, with a particularly frenetic piano, bursts of dramatic brass and elevated percussion also joining the fray at various intervals. The Matrix theme also interweaves with the action several times, playing loudly and tensely in short, controlled bursts. All of the above then builds to fever pitch in the final minute of the piece, reaching a deafening crescendo just before the track arrives at a sudden, dramatic close. All-in, it’s a very tense re-introduction to the Matrix universe here, and one that’s rather reminiscent of Don Davis’ Trinity Infinity cue that opened the original Matrix score.
Rapid strings and ominous electronic murmurs open Two And The Same, with a crash of percussion then signalling the continuation of the frantic action style from Opening at the ninety second mark. The established frenetic strings take centre stage for much of the cue’s five and a half minute runtime, with the occasional burst of brass emphasizing the increasingly tense tone until another crash of percussion brings it all to crescendo just as the track ends. Things then slow right down for Meeting Trinity, as a soft, melancholic piano takes the forefront together with some quietly sombre background strings. This gentle atmosphere doesn’t last for long though as It’s In My Mind then pulls us right back into action territory. Frantic, almost horror-like high-pitched strings open the piece with dissonant electronics helping to drive the worrisome mood forward alongside infrequent bursts of aggravated brass. The volume then increases dramatically and the tension builds to fever pitch over the course of the next few minutes, before percussion then brings crescendo once again just as the track comes to a close. I Fly Or I Fall switches things up once again in the opening minute, with quiet, echoing vocals and gentle strings evoking quite a melancholic atmosphere until additional, rapid strings start to take back the forefront and the music then builds up into action territory for the back half of the cue.
A slow, mournful piano and tense strings play through much of Set And Setting before Into The Train then kicks things up a notch, with the piano and strings becoming louder and frantic in a manner very similar to that of both track Opening and Don Davis’ action work for the previous Matrix films. The tension then continues into the start of Exit The Pod, though this time with loud, oppressive brass and dramatically in-your-face vocals now taking the forefront with the Davis-esque action strings being relegated to the background for the majority of the three minute setpiece. A little bit of hope then pushes its way into the score with The Dojo, as a rather optimistic piano plays enthusiastically during the opening minute before loud drums and tense electronics then take over for much of the final two minutes of the cue. Just before the end though hopeful vocals start to sound through, with Davis’ main theme playing briefly and dramatically to close things out. Dual atmospheric setpieces Enter IO and Inside IO then slow the pace right down, with the former cue setting a gentle, quietly moody tone on melancholic strings and rumbles of dissonant electronics for the most part (though it does then build to a rather epic crescendo towards its end) and the latter then continuing this tone in slightly more pensive form on morose strings and quiet, thoughtful brass. The short Escape concludes this rather atmospheric segment of the score with a short burst of action before tense strings build to a dramatically orchestral crescendo.
So far, I have to say I’m not overly wowed by this score. The vast majority of the music so far as been just aggressive orchestral action, which while enjoyable in style, isn’t massively memorable (at least for me). The best parts are the little hints or sometimes straight passages that homage back to Don Davis’ original Matrix scores (including the use of his main theme), though they are sometimes similar enough (see Opening for example) to the point where you wonder why they simply didn’t just hire Davis back instead for Resurrections. Still, on with the score – Broadcast Depth begins with a rumble of percussion and a burst of aggressive brass, with rapid electronics setting a particularly frenzied pace that continues for the remainder of the track and then on to several subsequent ones. Light, scattering percussion opens Exiles for example, with lengthy brass notes expressing quite a dark, villainous tone together with the now typically loud, frantic strings. Davis’ main Matrix theme is also briefly hinted toward a few times throughout the track, though never directly played. Factory Fight then continues where it leaves off, leaning even more into the villainous side of things with bursts of aggressive, imposing electronics layered on top of the already very dramatic brass and strings. The frenetic piano notes from Opening also make a return in this cue, helping to build the orchestra to a loudly emphatic crescendo at the end of the four minute piece, with Davis’ main theme making a short, dramatic appearance to close it out.
Bullet Time switches things up a bit in its opening minute, with slow, pensive strings evoking a much gentler tone together with moody piano notes helping to emphasize this change. A rumbling crash of percussion at sixty seconds in however then shatters this new peace, with action building back into the fray for the remainder of the track. The frantic Davis-esque strings then return once again throughout Infiltration, bigging up the already rather tense action setpiece which then leads directly into the subsequent I Like Tests. Here the strings take centre stage together with loud, oppressive brass notes, making for another unruly two minutes of action before I Can’t Be Her dials things back down with gentle, rather melancholic strings. These then build though over the course of the track’s three minute runtime, becoming louder and more dramatic until a particularly emotional crescendo is reached to close the piece, making for one of the better tracks on the album as a result. As the story starts to draw to a close, Simulatte Brawl and Swarm throw us right back into frantic action territory with loud, aggressive strings and bursts of aggravated brass leading the musical charge. Sky Scrape then slows things down initially with morose vocals before then leaping straight back in for one last desperate action surge with the full orchestra at its back. Final track My Dream Ended Here tries to provide a rather emotional finish for the score with slow strings opening the piece followed by loud, dramatic vocals, but this is then shattered in the back half as loud, villainous brass bursts back into view, ending the album overall on a curiously ominous note.
Overall, Johnny Klimek and Tom Tykwer’s loud, rather oppressively action-oriented score for The Matrix Resurrections is very reminiscent of Don Davis’ iconic compositional work for the franchise at certain points, but the rest of the time it just consists of aggressively imposing action music that while entertaining for a little while, does become dull and a bit tiresome as the album continues. The score opens quite strongly with standout cue Opening (a piece that’s fairly reminiscent of Don Davis’ Trinity Infinity) and the composers certainly aren’t afraid to use the main Matrix theme as well, but as above the increasingly frenetic action orchestral style used throughout the score just isn’t all that remarkable, with the full album becoming a bit of a slog to get through as a result (though the near-standout I Can’t Be Her does provide a refreshing albeit short change of pace towards the end). As such, Resurrections does feel just a little bit soulless overall; reprising the excellent theme and style that The Matrix was known for sure, but lacking perhaps that ingenuity and refreshing nature of Davis’ compositional work that made those scores so interesting to listen to.. All-in, it’s kind of just more of the same, but without the heart and energy that went into those original works.
One can’t help but wonder as well why they simply didn’t just hire Don Davis back for this one, especially considering how closely Klimek and Tykwer’s score follows his work for the franchise at times. To end on a slightly more positive note though, if you liked Davis’ Matrix scores… you’ll like bits of this one, for sure.
Standout Cue: 1. Opening
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