Film scores

Soundtrack review: Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (Joe Kraemer – 2015)

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New director means new composer in the tumultuous history of the “Mission: Impossible” film franchise. Christopher McQuarrie brought in Joe Kraemer and I don’t think Tom Cruise had anything against it since the two of them worked together on “Jack Reacher”. This franchise still is one of my favorites and I always look forward to future installments. I don’t really care about the plot, just about the visual thrills. Except the first one, the “M:I” scores have been spectacular and Joe Kraemer has some big shoes to fill. Let’s find out what “Rogue nation” has in store for us.

Welcome back, Lalo Schifrin theme in new clothes. This is one of the other things I look forward to whenever “Mission: Impossible” comes along every five years or so: hearing that awesome, iconic theme in a new version. Joe Kraemer inserts it dark and brassy and it just makes the exciting and balls to the walls opening of the score even better. But that’s not all he does with the Lalo Schifrin theme. The way he reworks and uses it throughout the score is the best from all the “Mission: Impossible” scores so far and is similar to (spoiler alert: you are going to hear me make this comparison a lot during this review) what John Barry used to do with the James Bond theme.

I like the feeling of legacy I get from the music. Joe Kraemer is more melodic and less agitated then Michael Giacchino who scored the previous two movies but his music feels like it fits with the franchise. What he brings extra is a certain maturity and elegance to the series. “Solomon Lane” sounds like something taken from John Barry’s “James Bond” scores, that’s how good it is. It sounds like a curtain call of a spy movie with an open ending. Might just be the best cue Joe Kraemer has written so far. I am just left speechless once it’s over and feel the need to listen to it again.

I am having a bit of trouble with the suspense cues at this first listen. They are there to set a kind of mood but I don’t feel they do enough. They just stay in the background without making me fret or look over my shoulder. They just are. I am itching to hear some good old fashioned action. That’s what I came here for and the composer starts delivering it with “Moroccan pursuit”. This is what I will remember from this score, moments like these. I know there’s nothing wrong with the music and it’s just my expectations but I can’t help it. I want to hear what “A matter of going” is the prelude to. I don’t have the patience for all the preparations even if the music is good and dense.

But see even this tense music if it’s done well manages to lure me into the shadows with it. As I enter there I can understand it and connect with it. Joe Kraemer found a way to change my expectations and make me enjoy what he had in store for us. A cue like “The Blenheim sequence”, so sophisticated and smart couldn’t remain unnoticed. This is how the composer chose to score this movie and I respect that. I will see the movie and it will probably make even more sense. After all Ethan Hunt and his team are spies and they needed this fabric for camouflage.

The ending is as spectacular as I would have expected. The final three cues are the dynamite stick at the end of the slow burning fuse that was “Mission: Impossible – Rogue nation”. Joe Kramer delivered bit time and I hope he sticks around for future installments. He could do for “M:I” what David Arnold did for James Bond.

Cue rating: 94 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 50 / 74

Album excellence: 68%

Highlights:

The A400

Solomon Lane

Escape To Danger

A Flight At The Opera

It’s Impossible

Moroccan Pursuit

The Blenheim Sequence

A Foggy Night In London

Meet The Imf

Finale And Curtain Call

 

 

 

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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