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Soundtrack review: Dawn patrol (Joe Kraemer – 2015)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Dawn patrol (Joe Kraemer – 2015)


Joe Kraemer is the composer of choice for the past few Tom Cruise action movies and it’s a good time to get to know him. I love the Tom Cruise movies and especially the Mission: Impossible franchise and I am eagerly waiting for “Rogue Nation” this year. Until then, the appetizer is “Dawn patrol”, a story about a surfer turned marine who is held at gunpoint in a distant desert and tries to stall his execution by telling the story of how his revenge for his brother had gone wrong.

The beginning of the score throws me a little off balance. I guess the composer want to establish the surfing / beach back story and we after the main titles we get “Life’s a beach” which is a very light and beach party kind of cue, quite unfit for a drama. There’s percussion, there’s a jolly guitar theme and I can easily dismiss it when the “Bothers” theme starts. This cue stays at the surface. Is it because this is just the beginning of the story? Is it because the composer wants us to focus on what’s going on on screen and not get too emotional. But since the relationship between the brothers is the center story I expected something more memorable.

In “Losing Ben” as well I find some moments I really like (the soft piano keys and the tense motif) but it’s still too light. The score doesn’t seem to dare more; it stays in a superficial comfort zone. “Surfer’s farewell” seems to want to change that. I am drawn to the atmospheric beginning because it tells me a lot and makes me care for the character. It’s the first moment when I feel involved in “Dawn patrol”. Unfortunately there are only moments as the music turns again alert, but light. I get that sound and I know it probably works very well in the context of the movie but as a standalone listen, there is room for me to do something else while listening to it.

The thing is this score has potential. There is a beautiful theme which recurs in many cues and parts of “Donna” for example are wonderfully atmospheric. I could dream on a score that sounded only like that. I cling to “Donna” and hope it will at least stay that way until the end. This is my kind of cue: beautiful, dreamy, intimate. With this gem I can consider “Dawn patrol” a winner because one cue like this is all it takes… “Mothers and sons” caresses me with the same sound and that’s another lullaby I never wanted to see end.

The atmospheric moments of “Dawn patrol” are simply stunning. I don’t know why Joe Kraemer wasted time with those light and forgettable themes when he had gems like “Truth will out” in his head. I am just enchanted by that sound and I fret every time the mood changes and the desert string sound returns. Yes I know that is the fabric of the story but it doesn’t fit with my dreams. I get lost in the mysterious and addictive sound of “To Rivera’s” but don’t like “Another funeral”. This is the story of “Dawn patrol” for me. It was a little uneven, but the best moments are well worth retuning to.

Cue rating: 78 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 14 / 53

Album excellence: 27%



Mothers And Sons

Rivera’s Revenge




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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