JNH Thursday

Soundtrack review: Salt (James Newton Howard – 2010)

salt

I have to admit I was a little worried about how the score for “Salt” would turn out. I wasn’t used to James Newton Howard writing music for an action thriller and composers I really liked like Harry Gregson Williams had slipped into the generic territory for movies like these. I liked the Angelina Jolie secret agent movie; I remember seeing it twice in cinema when it came out.

After a slower start, “Cornered” was the first track that got my attention. But “Salt” really finds its stride on the 7 minutes long “Chase across DC”. This is action music at its best, pure adrenaline. The percussion and the electronic pulses carry this theme and do justice to the pace of the movie. This is one exciting track. It is so exciting that it actually ruins the rest of the listening experience because I wanted to hear more of this and I didn’t get it.

There occasional bursts of goodness, like “A dark goddamn hole”, “Destiny” or “I’m going home” which make me realize the potential this score has. Unfortunately, even James Newton Howard falls in the generic trap for more than half this score and I don’t count “Salt” among my favorites. The action music doesn’t have the identity of the movie. I could associate it with a lot of action movies. It’s a real shame because I loved Salt and I wished the score had been memorable. It works as a background support for the on screen action but lacks the excitement to make it a worthy standalone listen. Of course it will get other chances to climb up in my index because I am not giving up on it.

Cue rating: 77 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 19 / 63

Album excellence: 31%

Highlights:

Cornered

Chase Across DC

A Dark Goddamn Hole

Destiny

I’m Going Home

Mano a Mano

Go Get Em

About the author

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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