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Soundtrack review: Face / off (John Powell – 1998)

Composer of the month John Powell month

Soundtrack review: Face / off (John Powell – 1998)



John Powell’s debut was one to remember. “Face/off” was an explosive John Woo thriller starring John Travolta and Nicolas Cage, and I still watch it with pleasure even today. I couldn’t let John Powell month without reviewing this one. I don’t remember a coherent theme from the movie, just sounds and sudden bursts of action.

The most important thing to say about this score is that it has Hans Zimmer’s Remote Control Production stamp all over it. It’s a familiar sound, electronic and suspenseful, and I don’t think John Powell had a major input in his first score. But since this is a RCP action score from the end of the 90s, it has all the expertise of Hans Zimmer’s legendary action style from the past decade. You can hear that first in “Furniture”, a 7 minutes long cue that resonated back to the “Broken Arrow” days. It’s a very exciting action track that raises my adrenaline levels and really pumps me up. The other two long tracks, “That ridiculous chin” and “No more drugs for that man” are also constructed in an addictive way.

The more I listen to “Face/off”, the more I hear “Broken Arrow 2.0”, and I don’t care. That score is one of the best ever, and any variation on it is welcomed. As the quotes from the movie play over and over again in my head, I also hear shadows of Hans’ darker “The fan”. This composition has some of the best qualities of past RCP gems and still sounds fresh, which is a remarkable feast. This is the kind of score I couldn’t get bored with, because its sound suits me and keeps me entertained. I want to know what comes next, I get the same excitement I get from watching a good action movie, and I have a couple of longer bootlegs of “Face/off” that I listen to more often than the official release.

Cue rating: 85 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 32 / 42

Album excellence: 77%




The Golden Section Derma Lift

This Ridiculous Chin

No More Drugs For That Man

Hans’ Loft

Ready For The Big Ride, Bubba


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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