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Soundtrack review: Legend (Carter Burwell – 2015)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Legend (Carter Burwell – 2015)


“Legend” is a British crime thriller film written and directed by Brian Helgeland. The film is based on the book The Profession of Violence: The Rise and Fall of the Kray Twins by John Pearson which deals with the rise and fall of the Kray twins; the relationship that bound them together, and charts their gruesome career to their downfall and imprisonment for life in 1969. It’s always nice to see Tom Hardy so I’ll watch this film. The score was written by Carter Burwell who is no stranger to violence from his work on all the Coen brothers movies.

I am surprised by the opening theme “The legend”. It sounds like the instrumental interlude of a rock band, it doesn’t really sound like a film music cue to me. It’s jazzy and smooth and I keep waiting for it to introduce something. “Interesting” is the next cue and also my first assertion of this score. I think Burwell went here for the sound that Howard Shore brilliantly used for “The departed”: guitars.

“Center of the Earth” marks the point where things get back to normal. I wonder what scene this quiet and respectful piano theme underscores. This is a very minimalistic and poignant cue, one I connect with instantly. This being a Carter Burwell scores we do get a cue like “Indian country” that just growls from the background.

I like the vibe of 80s action nostalgia I get from “You’re nothing”. I like the afterthought from “Go straight”. I actually identify a theme I’ve heard before in this cue and I am starting to recognize a familiar pattern in this score. If you are looking for the deceiving and ironic darkness of the Coen brothers movies, you’ll find it in “Very very fragile” or “The honeymoon is over”. These cues send me back to the dark humor and violent irony of those movies.

My favorite moments from “Legend” are the ones where the theme appears. “I was the message” calms the chaos and agitation in the music and brings me home with that seductive piano. This is definitely my favorite cue from the score. If I get an unforgiving and meaningful cue like this in a score I am happy. I wish the composer had kept this sound for the duration of the score. Other moments feel a bit disjointed and unrelated to the backbone of this album. Overall and uneven score saved by the main theme.

Cue rating: 84 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 8 / 27

Album excellence: 31%


Center of the earth

Go straight

I Was The Message

Elegy For Frances

I Can’t Kill You


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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  1. sam 16th January 2016

    There is no center of the earth track on the OST. Why is that?

    1. Mihnea Manduteanu 16th January 2016

      I think I got a different version for review…

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