Film scores

Soundtrack review: Spooks – The greater good (Dominic Lewis – 2015)

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“Spooks” is a very famous British TV show about spies. I am surprised that I haven’t watched it and even more surprised that it ran for 10 seasons, a rarity in British TV. The series ended in 2011 and this year a movie will be released to continue the story: “Spooks – The greater good”. The score for the movie is written by Dominic Lewis. He is a newcomer to the world of “Spooks” as he hasn’t written music for any of the TV seasons. I am excited about this one as spy movie scores can be very entertaining.

The composer wastes no time in getting us right in the middle of the action. A slow and tense minute and then the plucked strings, percussion and electronic pulses make me feel as if I am either running for my life or chasing someone. “Bang and burn” is uncomfortable and efficient, slim and aggressive. Those tortured strings are very powerful and there’s no trace of light in this opening cue. I can hear some Middle Eastern instruments as well in what ends up as a complex and thrilling cue.

This score is thick and dark. You cannot skip or ignore any of the cues because they have something that pulls you in and make you pay attention. You never know what comes next during a 7 minutes long cue like “Pocket litter” which goes from atmospheric to aggressive to relentless and back. I like the places it takes me to musically and this experimental sound grows on me very fast. The music is alive and never stops moving. The strings and percussion do the heavy lifting and even if they come out broken at the end of the cue they did their job and got this cue to reach its purpose.

I also enjoy the murkier, white noise like moments. Some will find them too much or frustrating but it was in the right mood to listen to them. The music gives me a feeling of insomnia, of constant motion, of always being alert and it’s an interesting feeling to have. It means the composer did a great job because the music affects me and keeps me invested. There are echoes everywhere and the sound is powerful and intense. There’s a constant, decisive pounding which makes a statement every now and then.

When “Spooks: the greater good” gets melodic it’s even more delightful. The opening of “Southbank sniper” might be my favorite part of this score. The cue then goes down the same crazy experimental road the rest of the score went and I have the feeling of running through a dark labyrinth and having a light suddenly shined in my face every few minutes. “Southbank sniper” is the cue I would choose to advertise this score. Listen to it to have an image of the whole neurotic score.

“Spooks – The greater good” is one of the more interesting compositions I’ve heard this year. It knew what it wanted and it pounded on that. It never left this dark experimental zone and it’s a good thing it didn’t. Some moments reminded me of Henry Jackman’s “Captain Phillips” with their relentless abused string motifs. Other moments were gentle and reflective while the action parts were thrilling. This score has done more than enough to make me watch out for Dominic Lewis from now on. This was a very exciting way for him to introduce himself.

Cue rating: 87 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 28 / 44

Album excellence: 64%

Highlights:

Bang and burn

Pocket litter

Southbank sniper

Thames house

The greater good

 

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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