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Soundtrack review: 2:22 (Lisa Gerard and James Orr – 2017)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: 2:22 (Lisa Gerard and James Orr – 2017)

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“2:22” is an American-Australian thriller film. Dylan Branson (Michiel Huisman) is an air traffic controller who possess a unique ability to vizualize patterns. In the opening scenes of the film, he is suspended from his job after a brief flash (outside of space and time) nearly causes a mid-air collision in the skies above JFK, occurring at precisely 2:22pm. Shortly after his suspension, Dylan meets and falls for Sarah (Teresa Palmer), a beautiful former dancer. As each day passes, the flash that hit Dylan at JFK begins to reveal itself as ripples in time. Dylan is literally seeing through time, as he must race to solve the mystery of 2:22 before it devours both himself and his timeless love. The score was written by Lisa Gerard and James Orr. I am rewviewing the digital version which has a few extra tracks.

I knew Lisa Gerard musically years before she wrote “Gladiator” with Hans Zimmer; I was a Dead can Dance fan and I loved her unique style of doing music. Film music was just a natural step for her considering how immersive and affecting her music was. So many years have passed and I still get excited any time I see her name on a score; her name never appears alone there as she always collaborates with another musician or composer for her scores but usually her haunting sound prevails.

“2:22” is different. James Orr’s influence, his electronic and sound design background helps metamorphose Lisa’s usually lonely and eerie sound into a more modern and metallic one; sometimes it sounds as if Lisa’s voice is being altered and synthesised which is a strange sensation for a long time fan like myself. “Can I help you?” is the first piece where her voices appears and it’s distorted and remixed. I have trouble connecting to this score because I can’t find the warmth I usually associate with Lisa Gerard. I am listening to a modern electronic based thriller score which is exciting to hear but doesn’t relate to the name on the cover. Actually it’s closer to an EDM album that a film music score.

I wish some cues were less busy because different motifs and sound crowd each other and make the music get stuck between ambient and action. “It could have been worse” is closer to my sweet spot but it still doesn’t go deep enough with the atmospheric sound. I understand that the pace of the movie and the story required this approach but something is missing for me; I think it’s the emotion. Lisa’s voice is also missing from most of the cues. It’s a shame because when I hear a stunning cue like “Eyes met” I get goose bumps and realise the potential of the score. The voice is also present, haunting as always and yet used as another piece in the sound design puzzle.

It’s strange for me not to love a score that includes electronic music and ambient music; I think “2:22” is just too much of a hybrid and tears the thin fabric that separates film music from mainstream electronic music. There are moments that capture the essence of what I love but they are few and scattered. I just can’t find the Lisa Gerard warmth and emotion in the music and since my expectations were set to this I am unable to fully enjoy the album. There are cues like “Hologram” that trigger my nostalgia for my favourite electronic sound and there are tracks like “A near miss” that don’t work that well for me.

“2:22” is an uneven score for me, a composition that sacrifices emotion and reflection for cold electronic action. Lisa’s voice, both on its own and figuratively, gets lost in the sound design and I am missing it. Overall the music reminded me of the “Looper” score by Nathan Johnson from a few years back, a similar score which had two absolutely stunning show stopping cues lost in a sea of cold electronics. If you like electronic thriller music at all costs you might find more in this score than I did.

Cue rating: 79 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 12 / 74

Album excellence: 16%

Highlights:
In Control
It Could’ve Been Worse
Hologram

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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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