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Soundtrack review: The man from U.N.C.L.E (Daniel Pemberton – 2015)

man-from-uncle

I’m still on a high from having heard Joe Kraemers’s exciting “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” score when another 60s spy inspired movie remake is making its way to us with a score to match. Daniel Pemberton already convinced me he can write for this genre with his excellent score for “The game” earlier this year so he is the right man to compose the score for “The man from U.N.C.L.E.”. I remember the old TV show; I think I watched a few episodes. This is quintessential 60s spy action and the composer should be like a kid in the candy store with all this material to be inspired from.

My first thought when the music starts is to wonder if by any chance, in true spy fashion, this isn’t actually Lalo Schifrin who is wearing a Daniel Pemberton mask. The deception is real and I need to be very careful. I can’t trust anything around me. There’s a lot of sneaking around and hiding in the shadows and I have to play the same game. The music is so cool that I feel the impulse to stop it for a bit so I can make the feeling last longer. I don’t want to waste all of it and be left with no surprises. The opening cue “Out of the garage” is a showstopper and I wonder where can Pemberton go from here. I am in love with this smooth track and its jazzy exuberance.

I lost my focus for just a bit because of that deceiving and addictive cue and now Lalo is gone and Daniel Pemberton puts on the Ennio Morricone mask. The name of the cue “His name is Napoleon Solo” seems ironic because with the raw guitar motifs and the chimes make me thing of a man with no name. The shadow of the maestro is back in the rambunctious “Breaking out (the cowboy escape)” which sounds as if taken from the most legendary Mexican Westerns.

The next phase is “Escape from East Berlin” and I can’t remember ever hearing a cooler piece of 60s spy music. This cue is unbelievable. It sounds like an unreal jam session, complete with vocal improvisation, woodwind and an insane dialogue of instruments that just floors me. I am jumping and grooving in my chair and I instantly put down the gun and the hat and look for my list of best cues of 2015. This one should not miss. I can’t imagine how much fun the guys must have had recording this one. Do I hear the echo of a laugh at the end?

The romance of Italy… the subtle and charming inserts from the places where the mission takes place…the coolness… oh yes, the coolness of this score is timeless and surprising. Daniel Pemberton did everything right. This is just perfection. This is how a 60s spy movie score should sound like and every single note from “The man from U.N.C.L.E.” is a highlight and a small piece in the smoothest dance you’ll hear this year. This score shot up on my list of best spy scores ever and I will listen to it time and time again. Do not miss this one if you want to be entertained.

Cue rating: 100 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 59 / 59

Album excellence: 100%

Highlights:

Out Of The Garage

His Name Is Napoleon Solo

Escape From East Berlin

Mission: Rome

The Vinciguerra Affair

Bugs, Beats And Bowties

Signori Toileto Italiano

Breaking In (Searching The Factory)

Breaking Out (The Cowboy Escapes)

Into The Lair (Betrayal, Pt. I)

Laced Drinks (Betrayal, Pt. II)

Circular Story

The Drums Of War

Take You Down

We Have Location

A Last Drink

The Unfinished Kiss

The Red Mist

The Switch

Warhead

Fists

 

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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