Film scores

Soundtrack review: Run all night (Tom Holkenborg – 2015)

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“Run all night” is a drama starring Liam Neeson, Joel Kinnaman and Ed Harris. An aging hitman’s estranged son shoots and kills his former mob boss’ son and the two fathers must come head to head. The story is set in the Irish community and I usually enjoy movies like this one. The ratings are very good but it might be a good movie to pass the time. Plus, Liam Neeson. The score was written by one of Hans Zimmer’s most frequent collaborators as of late (see Man of Steel, Inception, The Dark Knight Rises and the upcoming Batman vs Superman, where he will write the Batman themes), Junkie XL. I am glad that for this score he went by his real name, Tom Holkenborg. He will make a name for himself in the movie scoring world and I think it’s better to use this one. First thing I notice looking at the track list is, of course, the mammoth bonus track (54 minutes long, yes, you read right, longer than most scores) “Tom’s run all night sketchbook. This is a suite of all the themes the composer played with for this score and it’s the same thing Hans Zimmer did in “Man of steel”. That cue is still one of my favorite ever.

Tom’s influences are obvious from the “Prologue” which ends with the infamous “braaaaaam” sound which we all remember from Inception. It comes back in the opening of “Witness” and I enjoy this sound. I discover echoes from “The dark knight rises” as well in “Albiniens at Xmas”. After this warm up I instantly connect with the moody and atmospheric “I see those faces in my dreams”. It’s a simple keyboard and string combination which flows like a quiet river before turning into a waterfall of emotions at the end. I’ve said it before, I enjoy the most a thriller score that’s mostly reflective and focused on the internal turmoil of the characters rather than on the action and from the first impression “Run all night” seems to do just that.

When the action happens it’s sharp and thrilling. I don’t need more than the raw and pulsating “Witness” to be convinced.. I know if o deconstructed this cue I would find seeds of the many collaborations with Hans Zimmer but that’s fine because the end result is very enjoyable. I find many moments like these in the action sequences. Of course this way of constructing them makes it hard to separate them of highlight one or the other. It also means I will usually enjoy parts of cues and not always entire tracks.

The sound of “Run all night” is gritty and fits the dark and unforgiving worlds the characters live in. There are moments in the music where I hear sound effects that mimic rolling thunders, not obvious but menacing and heard as if from the distance. They contribute to the bleak atmosphere of the score and make the experience even more real. This isn’t a score that needs to be melodic because it would take away some of its edge. The rare moments of tenderness are just here to show the moments when the characters let their guards down. “I just killed your boy” is one of those moments and it’s the kind of cue I give 5 stars to without blinking.

Before we get to the bonus suite there are two other impressively long tracks. The 11 minutes long “The projects” is a fascinating journey. Once it catches you in its metallic maze the twists and turns Tom Holkenborg created become appealing. It’s moves at a relentless pace and the middle section is a reward in itself with the insanely enjoyable percussion experiments. Best track of the score for me. Somehow it makes me hopeful for the bonus suite. Or, should I say, it makes me very curious to see what that sketchbook hides. The other long cue “The cabin”, even if not as exciting as “The projects” confirms this feeling.

Of course a continuous 54 minutes track can’t be great for its duration, it would be unnatural. There were moments when it lost me, others when I really care but overall it was well worth the listen. There’s no need to listen to the entire score, for me the sketchbook is enough to keep on the old iPod. If you prefer shorter bites, keep the rest of the tracks. Either way, “Run all night” ends up on the plus side.

Cue rating: 88 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 77 / 124

Album excellence: 62%

Highlights:

Albiniens At Xmas

I See Those Faces In My Dreams

Witness

I Just Killed Your Boy

The Projects

Epilogue (From Run All Night)

Tom’s Run All Night Sketchbook (Bonus Track)

 

 

 

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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