Film scores

Soundtrack review: I am wrath (Haim Mazar – 2016)

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“I am wrath” stars John Travolta in the vengeance thriller I Am Wrath, scored by composer Haim Mazar. Directed by Chuck Russell (The Mask, Eraser, The Scorpion King), I Am Wrath is centered around Stanley Hill (Travolta) who goes on a revenge quest after his wife Vivian (Rebecca DeMornay) is brutally murdered and a group of corrupt police officers are unable to catch the killer. The movie follows Stanley’s transformation from an ordinary family man back to his dark past as a skillful special ops agent as he lays vengeance upon those who have wronged him. I had to check again to see if it isn’t in fact a Nicolas Cage movie.

When a story like this comes along which has been done over and over again for the past few years with various degrees of success I already know what kind of sound to expect. It’s very rare that a composer goes a different route that then dark electronic thriller sound that’s so popular these days. I remember Laurent Equiem impressed me with how he handled “Tokarev”. I imagine it’s not easy though for the composers to step out of those confines if the producer or director asks for a score “that sounds like…” or gives him very limited budget to record the score.

The first cue I really enjoy is “Stanley’s theme”. After the abrasive start to the score we get this beautiful theme that combines electronic pulses with the strings that show the softer, family side of this character who has suffered so much. The piano motif is quiet and reflective and I instantly connect with it. I embrace this theme and all of a sudden I feel a connection with the main character. “Dark past” is a continuation of that theme and combines ambient music with echoes of strings and piano before going rock. These two cues and “Funeral” are my favorite parts from the score.

But the story isn’t beautiful or tender. That part of the character is gone. The music reflects that and returns to the frantic action industrial sound with sudden stops and turns as if to reflect the agitation of fighting and chasing. What separate this score from other similar ones are the country rock inserts. The electric guitar is used quite often in “I am wrath” and represents a welcomed changed of mood from the usual dark thriller sound. To me these electric guitar inserts suggest the idea of having a friend, of the main character not being alone in this.

All in all “I am wrath” is an enjoyable thriller score with enough diversity in the sound to make it escape the generic trap. The use of strings, both violin and guitar, was a very nice touch.

Cue rating: 80 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 7 / 35

Album excellence: 20%

Highlights:

Stanley’s theme

Funeral

I am wrath

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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