Film scores

Soundtrack review: Olympus has fallen (Trevor Morris – 2013)

olympus

“Olympus Has Fallen” is a 2013 American action thriller film. Directed by Antoine Fuqua, it stars Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, and Morgan Freeman, with Angela Bassett, Robert Forster, Cole Hauser, Ashley Judd, Melissa Leo, Dylan McDermott, Radha Mitchell, and Rick Yune in supporting roles. The film depicts a North Korean-led guerrilla assault on the White House, and focuses on disgraced Secret Service agent Mike Banning’s (Butler) efforts to rescue the President (Eckhart). For me it still is the best “Die hard” clone made. I enjoyed it a lot and I re watched it a few times since then. Trevor Morris wrote the score and I am reviewing it because I can’t wait for the sequel to come out.

“Land of free” makes me want to plead allegiance to the flag. I can almost see the eagle flying and the planes making a show at a 4th of July celebration. This is an American anthem complete with horns and raising of flags. With the next cue “The full package / Snowy car talk” I feel even more involved and part of the story. I am playing the movie scenes in my head as the music goes by and I already feel the need to see the movie again. The emotion of the opening scenes is at its peak in “Rocky Road ice cream”. It’s the last break before the action madness starts with the two massive attack cues, 17 minutes long in total.

This is Trevor Morris we’re talking about. Forget the movies; if you heard his games scores for the Dragon Age series you know the man can bring on some serious musical thunder. “Air attack” raises my pulse and brings my heart in my throat with its relentless and pounding pace. I remember the fierce attack from the movie and how I actually felt scared by how precise and effective the terrorists were. The music brings back those feelings and I feel just as defenseless as I felt while watching the movie. A cue like this is what action film music is all about: powerful, epic and intense.

Then there’s the percussion and rhythm of “Ground attack”. The pace of the cue reminds me of the coordinated movements of the attackers while the insane percussion makes me think of Junkie XL’s favorite sound. I love this sound. I want to run and be motivated on this sound. The music is unstoppable and I love it when a composer goes all in like this. It’s not easy to keep the listener’s interests awake continuously for 10 minutes.

The quieter moments have just as much meaning. The sadness and feeling of destruction are deep and I love the inserts of military motifs of mourning that come every now and then. The middle section of the score is not always as exciting as the action pieces but I’m saying this only because those pieces spoiled me. Not the focus shifts to Banning who needs to hide and be very stealthy in dealing with the back guys. The music tells me this and still I can’t walk away from this score.

And then there is the climax…the ending, the victory, the inspiring and triumphant American anthem “Day break / we will rise / end credits”. This cue is the culmination of this score and of watching hundreds of American movies where the hero wins and their mentality is as strong as ever. I feel the trumpet, I see the flag once again, I believe in the rebirth and I have one of my favorite cue of that year. This is patriotism at its best and film music as I would always like to hear it.

Cue rating: 86 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 39 / 69

Album excellence: 56%

Highlights:

Land of the Free

Stage Coach Crashes / Death of the First Lady

Rocky Road Ice Cream

White House: Air Attack

White House: Ground Attack

Triage

He’s in the Walls

Any Regrets

S.E.A.L. Helicopter Incursion

Walking the Plank

Day Break / We Will Rise / End Credits

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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