Film scores

Soundtrack review: The runner (The Newton Brothers – 2015)

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The plot of “The runner” says that in the aftermath of the 2010 BP oil spill, an idealistic but flawed politician (Nicolas Cage) is forced to confront his dysfunctional life after his career is destroyed in a sex scandal. This is an unusual one because lately Nicolas Cage had been making like 10 movies a year but all thrillers. The score was written by composers Andy Grush and Taylor Newton Stewart, better known as The Newton Brothers, and this is my first contact with their music.

The guitar riff from “The oil spill” brings a little bit of nostalgia to me because it has moments when it morphs into that anthem / heroic like sound of scores like “Battle LA” or “Armageddon”. I’m stretching it a bit but I felt something. The sound is gone come the “Main title” but the guitar is still there and it gives a fresh and enjoyable coat to the music. We are in the year of minimalism in film music and The Newton Brothers are actually doing something different here; they are giving the minimalism in “The runner” a raw and bold shine that create the feeling of a winter landscape and reflections of the sun and illusions induced by that infinite white. In some moments, like “20/20” the echoes are a little more emotional and the guitar cries a little bit. These subtle inflexions are the only moments when the score changes pace….it’s as if the music is sleeping and it’s turning on the other side from time to time.

If it wasn’t for that cleverly used guitar the score would have been forgettable to me. This isn’t the kind of score to remember or to come back to outside of its intended context. I really need to focus and pay attention to keep the thread of this score and not lose it. Lucky for “The runner” this focus pays of as there is enough in there to reward the careful listener. For a one time listen this score meets its mark. It’s nice and melodic and easy to sit through. I imagine this score working very well if you are in an isolated environment and you need to stay sharp and ready for something.

I will remember the guitar and I will remember the winter feeling I got from this score. Listen to this one if you find yourself in a quiet and peaceful place, because the noise of the outside world might drown its fragility.

Cue rating: 77 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 5 / 39

Album excellence: 14%

Highlights:

I’m Nothing Like You

Losing It

 

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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