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Soundtrack review: Red eye (Marco Beltrami – 2004, 2015)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Red eye (Marco Beltrami – 2004, 2015)


I remember liking the movie “Red eye”. It was an exciting thriller about a hotel manager played by Rachel McAdams who catches a red eye flight from Miami after her grandmother’s funeral and meets a stranger at the check in line, a stranger who turns out was a member of a terrorist organization interested in her because the target of their assassination plot was staying at her hotel. I don’t remember the music but it’s Marco Beltrami who can be very exciting and a lot of people were psyched when this release was announced by Intrada.

The beginning of the score sounds very romantic. I am surprised by the tender sound of “Arriving at the airport” and the gorgeous “A friendly gesture” but then I remember that the trailer for the movie tricked us in its first moments into thinking this was a love story. I guess the movie starts the same way. Once that is out of the way the score heads into a territory I am not very fond of: generic action thriller music. It’s the kind of sound that passes like a thin mist without leaving anything behind. Cues pass and I forget about them by the time the next one begins and I am not missing anything because the next one sounds just the same. Both “Waiting for the flight” and “Takeoff” are nice enough to listen to once but I will not remember them.

“Changing focus” is the monster cue of this score, clocking in at 10 minutes and it has a dark and tense appeal which makes me feel as if I was watching this thriller impatiently waiting for what came next. The thing is even this cue kind of loses me after a few minutes. It has moments when it gets too quiet and turns into sounds rather than music. There’s a nice cello motif tangled with a scary one in “No back-up plan”. I like this cue but I still get the sensation of the taste of a salad I enjoy but which still has an ingredient that keeps it from being excellent.

I am still waiting for a cue to wow me and make me understand why this score deserved a special release of 80 minutes. Once again the cello interludes lure me but what I discover behind them is quite generic. Beltrami’s horror pedigree is obvious in cues like “Bathroom interlude” but it’s nothing I haven’t heard before. I find myself more drawn to the tense moments which are constructed very well. Every now and then the silence is broken by a brilliant motif that unfortunately is too short and gets swallowed again by the nice background music.

“The pen is mightier than the sword” goes a little deeper and sounds more developed. I finally recognize Beltrami’s excellence here. This is a manic cue, frantic and aggressive. It pulsates with percussions of all kinds and sounds like a violent creature banging against the metal cage that confines it.

As I am wrapping up this review, still listening to “Red eye” and not giving up on it because of the moments of brilliance that do pop up every now and then the music escapes the generic trap and morphs into the exciting beast I knew Beltrami could write. “End credits” are everything the rest of the score was not: thrilling, complex, melodic and memorable. The composer saved the best for last. I guess Marco Beltrami fans will enjoy this one and were missing it from their collections. I don’t think I’ll return to it.

Cue rating: 76 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 15 / 79

Album excellence: 19%


A friendly gesture

The pen is mightier than the sword

End credits




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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