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Soundtrack review: John Wick (Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard, 2014)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: John Wick (Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard, 2014)


John Wick is the story of an ex-hitman who comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that took everything from him. It is a fresh and stylized take on the “assassin genre” starring Keanu Reeves as the title character, a welcomed return from him. I saw the trailer, I saw the two names on the score (Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard) and I instantly thought “Constantine”. That score, written by Brian Tyler and Klaus Badelt, two of my favorite composers, wasn’t much to listen to for me. Let’s see how this one fares…

The beginning of the score is slow and lonely, as we ease into the mindset of John Wick. The music starts to wake up from “John mourns”. It wakes up and rocks with “Assassins”. It’s dark, industrial rock and I know exactly how the respective scene will look like. I’m in.“Dear John” is atmospheric and subdued and I think I’m starting to hear a contrast between the outside world and John’s inner world. The alternation between atmospheric and industrial rock continues throughout the score.

“The drowning” is dark electronic rock music at its best. It almost doesn’t sound like film music, but it’s a very exciting track. The rest of the score though settles in an aggressive techno mood that gets repetitive for me. It’s nothing new, nothing I haven’t heard before and it’s not a genre I particularly like. The rock inserts are not enough to make me remember this score once it’s over. The freshness of the score fades away midway through it and I checked out.

“John Wick” has a clear mission: to make us connect with the main character of the movie. Since the tone and mood are so strong and clear, I’m sure it does its job. I know what to expect from the movie. As a standalone listen, it’s more appropriate for techno and club music fans.

Although there are a few songs very well picked and fitting the mood of the score. I particularly liked “In my mind” (by M83 and Susie Q) and Think (Kaleida). Overall, it’s not something I will be replaying any time soon…



Cue rating: 62 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 14 / 67

Album excellence: 20%

Cues to listen to:



Dear John

In My Mind (Performed By M86 & Susieq)

The Drowning

Think (Performed By Kaleida)


Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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