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Soundtrack Review: The Matrix Reloaded
by Richard Jack Smith

Opening logo music for The Matrix trilogy has kept pretty consistent on the sound design buzz. Meanwhile, such orchestrations enliven The Matrix Reloaded. Already, there’s a sense of jeopardy as though we have entered in medias res, and the chase has begun.

Variations in doomy architecture give composer Don Davis currency beyond flash. During “Enter the Neb,” the eponymous resistance vessel earns a ghostly reprise from the first film. While this music doesn’t evoke anything like the mystery of Star Trek, that’s because the human survivors know what’s coming.

Nearby, “Smith at the Door” evinces weight and expectation. Of what? Perhaps the former agent wants to catch somebody off-guard. As such, Davis tip-toes around the subject, offering enticing shades that bypass the sound of definitive bias. There’s a short narrative here which points inward, the growing unease describing every measure.

Moving along, it’s clear Davis does a lot of listening. His style could be said to evolve. Intuitively, he assimilates Bernard Herrmann, John Ottman, Basil Poledouris, Jerry Goldsmith and Howard Shore. The end result embraces post-modern, yet a classically trained ear can detect other things going on.

Momentarily, “Zion” drifts off the line, yet “Goodnight Zion/The Bane Transformation” gets back on course. Meanwhile, an element of high fantasy distinguishes “Choice is an Illusion.” This amounts to a significant moment in the score for me. Why? Because Davis adds to the suspense without providing more of the same. He looks outside the borders of his storytelling, while nurturing incidental creative flashes that empower a listening experience.   

Sadly, the cacophony behind “Mona Lisa Overdrive” could divide opinion. Personally, this felt like the weakest track as a clubhouse ambience tends to infiltrate. I couldn’t imagine this accompanying a freeway chase, yet it does.

Elsewhere, a more meaningful pace-setter “Truck vs. Truck/The Plan/Final Flight of the Vigilant” might irritate or excite depending on temperament. Crucially, I found this cue engaging in its bombastic wisdom and other subtleties.

By closing time, “The Problem is Choice/Window Switch/Neo Miraculous/No More Nebuchadnezzer/Conclusion Confusion” felt over caffeinated. Even so, The Matrix Reloaded earns a very respectable four stars.

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