Composer of the month The expendables month

Soundtrack review: Red heat (James Horner – 1987)

For fans of movie scores like “Commando” or “Predator”, “Red heat” will work

“Red heat” is one of the Arnold Schwarzenegger comedies I re watch with the most pleasure. His chemistry with Jim Belushi, the funny and clichéd portrayal of Russians, everything clicked. As far as buddy-cop comedies go, this one works just fine. I can actually remember a couple of the times when I watched this movie, so it adds to the nostalgia value of the score. I am reviewing it as part of “The expendables month”.

James Horner was an action god in the 1980, much like Hans Zimmer was in the 90s. His scores for movies like “48 hours” or “Commando” were iconic and he tried to bring the same power to this one. For me, “Red heat” doesn’t count among Horner’s best action scores. It feels uneven and all over the place.  I am able to enjoy it when it settles into the familiar “Commando” mood, with sharp percussions and dark suspenseful motifs. “Trailing Kat/ the setup” and “Hospital chase” actually sound like outtakes from that score. I like them. But we also get tracks like “Victor escapes”, from which I actually couldn’t understand much.

The movie is a comedy, but the score is far from it. It growls and creeps behind you from every corner and James  Horner wants to express ruthlessness and danger. “The hotel” doesn’t sound like a place I’d like to visit, I imagine it abandoned, cold and perilous. I do like listening to the cue though.

For fans of movie scores like “Commando” or “Predator”, “Red heat” will work. It’s an enjoyable listen and I like that it has three very long cues, totaling 24 minutes. The lengthy tracks work for this sound, it give the music time to develop a mood and swallow the listener like quicksand. Fans of the movie might not find it easy to relate to anything from it other than the opening and closing credits, which bring soft Russian like choirs.

Cue rating: 67 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 15 / 44

Album excellence: 34%

Highlights:

Main title

Hospital Chase

The Hotel

End title

 

 

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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