In my review of the score to The Matrix Reloaded, I chastised the composers (Davis and digital chums) for not really expanding on Davis' original concept for the first Matrix score. However, Matrix Revolutions makes Reloaded seem like a red herring; a trip down a blind alley that didn't go anywhere and Revolutions becomes the score we were all expecting and hoping for. Unlike Reloaded, Revolutions adds to Davis' soundscape in interesting ways, rather than merely slapping on the digital percussion every time there's a fight. Juno Reactor are back in the fray, but this a much more sensibly sequenced album that mixes the collaborative material with portions by Davis alone. The result is an album that is much more consistently entertaining (although there are still plenty of passages which will give many a headache), but Davis has more time to work on his own new material, rather than either collaborating or reworking music from his original score, as happened for Reloaded.
Davis' basic material needs little introduction, there's the overlapping low brass chords that have become the series' musical trademark and Philip Glass on amphetamines cycling string and brass figures. This is now coupled with the occasional dollop of Juno Reactor (whose backing beats all sound the same after a while, have these people no imagination?) which overwhelms the orchestra to some extent, but pleasingly, Davis' music breaks free from its electronic wall of sound and those moments are potent indeed. It is with some irony that while the films purport to show the struggle of humanity against machines, human emotion is rarely strong point and the same goes for the music. However, Davis introduces one rather lovely cue in Trinity Definitely, the only real oasis of understated drama and peace in the entire score, but it's a crucial breathing space. Portions of Why, Mr Anderson? are equally captivating, although in that instance, Davis builds on the basic material with surging brass and choir.
It is, of course, the action that the films and scores are most famous for, and on that count, Davis doesn't disappoint. There are many highlights, perhaps Neodammerung (touch of the Goldenthal track titles there) being the finest, a huge choral action cue where everything is thrown together, but in a way that still makes sense and has some narrative structure. The longest cue, Navras, closes the album and it comes across as some kind of insane, vaguely exotic, night club action cue, but with epic, apocalyptic chorus. The minor scoring trend of featuring wailing, eastern vocals is in evidence, although there is so much brass, percussion and choir that it's more of an icing on the cake than a crucial element. Still, it's an impressively sustained 9 minutes and a bracing finale, even if it doesn't actually feel very final.
Unlike the first two films, there are no songs and no song album for this film, thus Davis is afforded over around an hour (from a 110 minute score) on album. Only one cue doesn't feature Davis at all, but In My Head by Pale 3 (whoever they are) is a fairly obnoxious, grungy dance/techno/whatever track, even if it doesn't sound as out of place as it might. If I'm brutally honest, there probably isn't anything that matches the rush of inspiration Davis had when penning the original score, but very few sequel scores eclipse the original. However, Revolutions builds on the first two scores and combines the best elements of both, so from that point of view, it has the greatest variety so the series goes out on a musical bang. All in all, I'm not sure I'd have wanted Davis to collaborate - he has the ability to do his own electronics as well as anyone else (Danny Elfman, for example), but with more power given to Davis' orchestral score here, the results are exciting, bracing and represent the best in contemporary action scoring. Thrilling stuff.