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Soundtrack review: The rock (Hans Zimmer, Nick Glennie-Smith and Harry Gregson-Williams, 1996)

Film scores Hans Zimmer perfect scores

Soundtrack review: The rock (Hans Zimmer, Nick Glennie-Smith and Harry Gregson-Williams, 1996)

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The Rock is a Michael Bay action film full of thrills, starring Sean Connery, Ed Harris and Nicolas Cage and set in Alcatraz. It’s part of Nicolas Cage’s (very short) golden action period, and it’s among the movies I’d watch over and over again without getting bored.  Sure it’s preposterous, but it’s fun and exciting to watch, and it remind me of the time when I visited Alcatraz prison with my family.
The score was written by Hans Zimmer, Nick Glennie-Smith and Harry Gregson-Williams. Like many other Zimmer action scores, it’s constructed from very few, but very long cues, and I’ve always liked this approach. We get 60 minutes of score from just 8 tracks. I giggle like a kid when writing about this score, because it’s one of the most exciting from my collection. It’s everything I could ever want from an action score, it’s bold, it’s massive and it’s not for the faint of heart.
The opening theme, “Hummer gets the rockets”, is simply my favorite Hans Zimmer action theme. He’s written a lot of brilliant and thrilling action cues, and I’ve heard them all. But there’s something about this one that sticks out and makes me single it out as my favorite. Everything is right about it: it’s epic, melodic and dramatic all at once. It’s so good that every time I hear I get excited and I want to stop whatever I’m doing and alert everyone around me that they can’t miss this theme. It just keeps rolling, it’s an anthem for all action movies and it leave and unforgettable mark.
The brilliance of this opening theme makes me be unfair to the rest of the track from this score. As a whole, “The rock” is about as good as an action movie score can get. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a better action score than this. l like every note, every inflection, every piece of music from this hour.


Just like Alcatraz, “The rock” separates itself from any other action movie score out there. It sits on its own island, protected by wind and water. You can enter, but it’s very hard to leave or to escape the sheer force of this score. Once in, you’re there for life. Hans Zimmer, Nick Glennie-Smith and Harry Gregson-Williams have created an indestructible rock among movie scores.  It has guards and guns and boats and towers and rocket launchers and it’s firing from all of them, from all directions, and there’s no place to hide from it. But why would you want to hide? Just enjoy one of the most awesome rides in film music history!

My ratings:

Cue rating: 93 / 100
Total minutes of excellence: 60 / 60
Album excellence: 100%

Cues to listen to:

Hummell Gets The Rockets
Rock House Jail
Jade
In The Tunnels
Mason’s Walk — First Launch
Rocket Away
Fort Walton — Kansas
The Chase
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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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