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Soundtrack review: Lock up (Bill Conti – 1989)

Composer of the month The expendables month

Soundtrack review: Lock up (Bill Conti – 1989)


“Lock up” is another of the Sylvester Stallone movie I always watch again with pleasure. It’s the usual story of the good guy being sent to a prison where the warden has a personal vendetta against him. Donald Sutherland doesn’t succeed in breaking Sly, and our likable and compassion inducing hero has a happy ending.

Bill Conti returned to a Stallone movie after the immense success with the Rocky franchise. The score is a little uneven and there are three well defined motifs in it. The main theme is a lovely little piano motif that I instantly recognize. Leone’s theme fits the character; it’s warm and minds its own business. The main theme returns a few times throughout the score to mark the emotional moments, and it works every time. “You won’t break me” and “The mustang” are my favorite piano cues. They give me a great feeling when I listen to them: the feeling of a gentle first snow in the park. We also get the Rocky goods: the fanfare driven triumphant action tracks. “First down!” and “Do it” are the action tracks from “Lock up”. They represent a welcomed change of pace.

If the score had only these motifs, I would have been very happy, because the suspense tracks don’t really work for me. They are a blend of horror and tension that’s not very exciting. Bill Conti is great at writing melodies and when he ventures out of that territory, the result isn’t very good for me. There’s a big difference between the jingly main theme and tracks like “First base” and “Hold your fire” for example.

This being said, the connection I have with the movie ( I can pinpoint a few exact moment when I saw it) and the lovely piano themes make “Lock up” a winner for me.

Cue rating: 69 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 30 / 67

Album excellence: 44%


Main Title

First Down!

You Won’t Break Me

The Mustang

Times Up

Do It!

Conjugal Visit

Main Theme (movie version)


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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