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Soundtrack review: Queen’s messenger (Stelvio Cipriani – 2001)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Queen’s messenger (Stelvio Cipriani – 2001)

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“Queen’s messenger” is a 2001 action movie. By order of Her Majesty’s Foreign Office, Captain Strong is given a dangerous assignment to deliver a delicate communication to the British Ambassador in Kazakhstan. As the senior officer for the elite Queen’s Messenger corps, Captain Strong must pledge to protect his diplomatic cargo with his life. I kept running into this movie on TV, during the B-movie nights but I never thought the score was written by a legend like Stelvio Cipriani.

I’ve always mentioned how bug a fan of the Italian film music school I am; I’ve been so for 30 years and there’s two particular sounds that nobody can do like the Italian composers: the romance and the way they do suspense, with percussion and a grave, uncertain tone that expresses, more than anything, exaggerated worry. “First stage” is a tense cue that I can recognise instantly as being written by an Italian; the percussion and the horns echo back to a lot of Morricone police scores and I am getting nostalgia from this piece. I didn’t expect to find it on the score for a B-level action movie. Since it’s a modern action movie the composer also employs some electronic sounds to go with the orchestral. I can see this hybrid working in the context of the movie but I am particular to the orchestral for the standalone listen. In “Inspection” the orchestral motifs are beautiful but the electronic ones just don’t fit, just like the wailing voice and tribal motif from “Military camp” just don’t sound right to me.

Once the score settles into the military sound of fanfare and percussion it is more enjoyable; I like the old school sound of cues like “Peace in the future” because these are moments when the sound is not spiked with modern electronics. For me the combination just doesn’t work that well. Then there is a suave piano piece like “Back to life” which makes me forget all the other shortcomings of this score because a gem like this is all I need to find in an album to make it worthwhile; this is that Italian romantic sensitivity I grew up with. I actually have a hard time believing this cue is on the same album as the others, this is the heart of “Queen’s messenger”. The surprise grows as the sound persists in “Alexi’s theme” and it’s as if I stumbled into an entirely different score, one close to my expectations from Stelvio Cipriani.

“Queen’s messenger” is an uneven score with some moments that are quite forgettable but also melodic piano highs that make the album worth listening. The tense moments were an attempt at retro electronic thriller that just didn’t work for me.

Cue rating: 77 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 7 / 44

Album excellence: 16%

Highlights:
Back To Life
Alexi’s Theme (M14)
Alexi’s Theme (Solo Piano)

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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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