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Soundtrack review: The war within (Van Lawson – 2015)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: The war within (Van Lawson – 2015)



I’ve seen a lot of movies and TV shows and I am not easily intrigued by a story because usually I’ve seen it before in some form. I have to admit that when I saw the trailer for “The war within” I got very interested in the subject. So here’s a guy who apparently loses his job and this causes an imbalance inside him. The action actually moves there where concepts like heart, emotion, memory, will or faith are characters that begin fighting for the soul of our hero. I don’t think I’ve seen it done quite like this. I saw movies where all the characters where different personalities of the same man and they were killing each other but an actual battle of emotions has eluded me so far. I will look for this movie even if visually it doesn’t look that impressive. The score comes from Van Lawson.

„At the airport” is the kind of opening I would expect from a movie like this. It includes the echo of a girl’s voice and an atmosphere that invites you to discover more. I think we are still in the real life here before the action moves within. “Emotion takeover” is where things are supposed to get interesting because the trailer shows that Emotion is the one endangering the mental balance of the main character. I am expecting an explosion of emotion, a rush, something thrilling. I know what happens when things heat up inside and emotion takes over. I don’t hear it in this cue. It keeps the same flow as the previous ones and sounds like your regular action thriller piece.

Then the girl comes into the story and the music gets reflective and beautiful. A distant piano tells us this story and I enjoy the quiet mood of “Amy’s story”. I don’t know who Ellie is but her theme is even more beautiful. The vocal part is enchanting while the piano keeps the ambient goodness going. This is the kind of composition I can never pass on: atmospheric, emotional and melodic. “That’s the word” borders on the epic with its choirs and percussion while “Creeping doubt” matches its title.

The ambient music seems to have taken over but it’s interrupted by the short and intense “Emotion vs heart”. I would have liked this theme or battle developed more. But why emotion vs heart, shouldn’t they be on the same side in this? Doesn’t emotion come from the heart? I guess I’ll have to see the movie to understand. “Are you lost” halts my train of thought with the best action cue so far. I am enjoying this section of the score as well. “The searing” keeps the epic going and I can get behind it.

There are a few moments I will remember from the score. Other parts, even if I enjoyed them at first listen, were nothing I hadn’t heard before in countless thrillers. Fortunately the composer introduced in almost every cue a hidden surprise, be it a surge in action or an ambient motif that hypnotizes me. “Conscience is right” is this kind of schizophrenic cue (fitting for the story) because it starts with pounding action before changing mood and leaving a solo piano to charm me. Then it goes back to epic action and feels like my favorite piece from “The war within” before “United again” blasts in my headphones with an outpour of emotion and choral work that reminds me of my favorite X-Men cues. Yes, this track alone is worth the price of the score. Mark this one for the end of the year lists. What a rush!

Just as the characters in the movie I had a few changes of heart (or mind) during the one hour of “The war within” but in the end I nodded my head in satisfaction. That was even before I heard the final cue, the 7 minute long “Amy’s revelation” which would have sealed the deal on its own. I enjoyed it with its ambient and action parts and with the changes of pace. Van Lawson wrote an intriguing score and it actually raised different emotions inside me. So this is a composition I will return to in the future. It had atmospheric pieces, great vocal work and some epic moments. What more should I need?

Cue rating: 89 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 33 / 59

Album excellence: 55%


Amy’s Story

Ellie’s Theme

That’s the Word

Are You Lost

The Searing

Conscience Is Right

Remember. Repent. Return.

United Again

Amy’s Revelation

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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