Film scores

Soundtrack review: Criminal (Brian Tyler and Keith Power – 2016)

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“Criminal” is a 2016 American action thriller drama film directed by Ariel Vromen with a mouthwatering cast: three legends Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman and Tommy lee Jones reunite on screen 25 years after “JFK” while two of the hottest newcomers Ryan Reynolds and Gal Godot (Wonder woman!!) complete the cast. The memories and skills of deceased CIA agent Bill Pope are implanted into gruff convict, Jericho Stewart, in order to finish an incomplete mission. This is the kind of movie I’m very excited about. With such a story and cast all that was missing was a rock star composer and of course Brian Tyler wrote the score with help from Keith Power, one of his frequent collaborators from the past 10 years.

Ah the excitement of a new Brian Tyler score; the anticipation about what new and explosive theme he might create or which of the cues from this score will end up on my adrenaline playlist. Before getting into the raw electronic beats of the score the composer surprises me with a Twin Peaks like vocal theme “Drift and fall again” featuring Lola Marsh, a song that helps get me into the right mood for this score.

My expectations for a memorable theme might have been exaggerated but this doesn’t mean I’m not enjoying this score. In the past few years Sci-fi movies with stories kind of similar to this one have gotten a specific sound from composers like Junkie XL, Joseph Trapanese or Hybrid, a sound I haven’t gotten tired of yet. This score might remind me of “Vice” or “Run all night” but I enjoy it just the same. The music is visceral and my heart can’t help but beat faster as the sounds Tyler and Power created get my blood pumping. “Criminal” is the kind of score to be played loud in order to be fully enjoyed.

Naturally we get some quiet ambient moments as well for the emotional bits of the story. “Distant memories” is the first such moment and I lose objectivity because I am addicted to its sound or the sound of “Waves of intuition”. These moments are rare and all the more effective. They stand out in the murky or aggressive electronic sea that is the score for “Criminal”. I know there will be a lot of people who will frown at this album but I am very much into dark electronic music so I always welcome a shot of adrenaline like this one.

“Criminal” sets up a clear atmosphere and I can already imagine how well it works in the context of the movie. I wish it hadn’t spent so much time focused on the suspense moments and we had more action parts. What I loved the most were the atmospheric moments and “Time and adoration” ends up as my favorite cue. Rock start Brian Tyler metamorphosed into an electronic wizard for this one and the result was alright.

Cue rating: 86 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 23 / 73

Album excellence: 31%

Highlights:

01 Drift And Fall Again (Featuring Lola Marsh)

03 Pope

06 Distant Memories

08 Waves Of Intuition

13 Time And Adoration

18 Culmination

19 Drift And Fall Again (Featuring Lola Marsh) [Kill The Noise Remix]

 

 

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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