Film scores

Soundtrack review: Deadpool (Tom Holkenborg aka Junkie XL- 2016)

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You will recognize this as a Junkie XL composition and you will probably want to listen to it again as soon as it’s over. I know I did.

Deadpool is an upcoming American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. It is intended to be the eighth installment in the X-Men film series. The film is directed by Tim Miller, with a screenplay by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, and stars Ryan Reynolds as the title character. The film follows Wade Wilson who, after being subjected to an experiment that leaves him with new abilities, hunts down the man who nearly destroyed his life. I remember that Reynolds played the character in the first Wolverine movie as well, he was the villain there. Now they made the character closer to its comic book counterparty and the trailers and hilarious. I can’t wait for the movie. As much as I couldn’t wait for the movie though the anticipation was even higher for the score because Junkie XL wrote it. It’s strange to see this alter ego again since Tom Holkenborg’s latest scores (including my pick for score of the year 2015: Mad Max – Fury Road) have been signed with his real name. Maybe since this is a superhero gig he chose to go by his superhero name? Anyway, the music is all that matters. My expectations for this one were through the roof.

The musical world of Junkie XL is noisy and spikey. Its walls are made of materials that reflect and reverberate the sound in ways I couldn’t imagine. The motifs bounce of those walls and change shape and direction. Sometimes a cue might hit a sharp edge and pop, turning into an atmospheric piece. That’s why his music is usually so full of surprises. Nothing is continuous and nothing is predictable and “Deadpool” makes no difference. Maybe I should rephrase that because it makes it sound as if this score falls into a certain pattern. But when the pattern is chaotic and neurotic it gives way to beautiful and exciting music. Above all it gives way to fun music. Listening to this score for me was like taking a house of fun ride in an amusement park, a ride that’s dark but full of pitfalls and sudden noises and waterfalls and quiet passages. At the first listen the score might seem simple but if you explore it a second or third time you’ll find subtleties you didn’t notice were there.

I was also surprised by how many quiet ambient cues were on this score. I love it when a score gets reflective and deep and I’m always attracted to a cue like “Easy Angel”. I like it variations and the way it makes me feel. The industrial sound took me back to countless hours of my teenage years and the mix or rock and electronic at the end completed my favorite cue from this score.

Don’t let the trailers of the movie and the opening track “Maximum effort” fool you. They don’t represent the core of what Tom Holkenborg / Junkie XL created here. The music is much more serious and complex than that. Once again this composer opens up a world of thick dark and addictive wonders. You will recognize this as a Junkie XL composition and you will probably want to listen to it again as soon as it’s over. I know I did.

Cue rating: 94 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 26 / 45

Album excellence: 58%

Highlights:

Maximum Effort

Man In A Red Suit

Liam Neeson Nightmares

Back To Life

Every Time I See Her

Easy Angel

Scrap Yard

Watership Down

Going Commando

Let’s Try To Kill Each Other

Stupider When You Say It

Four Or Five Moments

A Face I Would Sit On

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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