Film scores

Soundtrack review: The infiltrator (Chris Hajian – 2016)

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“The Infiltrator” is an upcoming American crime drama film directed by Brad Furman and written by Ellen Brown Furman, based on the autobiography of the same name by Robert Mazur, a U.S. Customs special agent. Mazur helps bust Pablo Escobar’s money-laundering organization by using his alias, “Bob Musella”. The film stars Bryan Cranston, Diane Kruger, Benjamin Bratt, John Leguizamo and Amy Ryan. During the 1980s, U.S. Customs Service special agent Robert Mazur uses his undercover alias “Bob Musella” to become a pivotal player for drug lords cleaning their dirty cash. Later, he infiltrates the world’s largest cartels and helps discover the money-laundering organization of drug lord Pablo Escobar. The score was written by Chris Hajian and this is my first contact with his music.

There have been quite a few war on drugs related scores in the past couple of years and the sound was kind of similar in presenting the dust, the desert, the danger. “Sicario” stood out for me because of the choking suspense and suffocating pace. I find the same qualities in “Picking up the informant” or “The raid” and I connect very easily with this score.

“Close call” stuns me. It hits me in my favorite musical place, the ambient mood reminiscent of the 80s. I feel as if I’m listening to one moment of humanity from “Scarface” as I am transported back in time. This is the emotion and nostalgia I’m looking for in every composition.

Chris Hajian keeps things interesting with the variety of the moods. The score doesn’t settle in that dusty investigative place some scores for similar stories dwell in.  The composer never lets us forget about the undercover element as his music is sneaky and low key as if it is hiding all the time. When hiding happens on screen as well the music gets even quieter, like in “The stakeout”.

“The infiltrator” is not made of big moments or for big moments. This is an atmosphere setting score; this is music to show us how it feels and sounds to be undercover inside the biggest drug cartel. It doesn’t go very deep though, maybe to allow the on screen events to take center stage. It explores the doubt and the discomfort but for me the best parts are the truly ambient ones when the tension takes a break and a different kind of emotion is explored. These moments stand out for me, pieces like “So who is she?” or “I’m going to introduce you to Pablo” because they separate this score from similar ones and show great potential for this composer.

While not the most rewarding standalone listen there are a few moments in “The infiltrator” that make it worth giving a shot.

Cue rating: 87 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 22 / 54

Album excellence: 40%

Highlights:

Close Call

Picking Up The Informant

Chase The Money

So Who Is She?

The Stars Are Aligning

I’m Going To Introduce You To Don Pablo

You’ve Made Your Decision, Now I’ve Made Mine

Are We Next?

I’m Not Going Home

The Raid

Gloria’s Plea

Calm Before The Storm

I’m Going To Miss Bob Musella

 

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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