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Soundtrack review: Den of thieves (Cliff Martinez – 2018)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Den of thieves (Cliff Martinez – 2018)

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“Den of Thieves” is a 2018 American heist film written, directed and produced by Christian Gudegast. It stars Gerard Butler, 50 Cent, Pablo Schreiber, O’Shea Jackson Jr. A gritty L.A crime saga which follows the intersecting and often personally connected lives of an elite unit of the LA County Sheriff’s Dept. and the state’s most successful bank robbery crew as the outlaws plan a seemingly impossible heist on the Federal Reserve Bank of downtown Los Angeles. Cliff Martinez wrote the score.

As any electronic music fan I am always up for a Cliff Martinez score as I will be for watching this movie since gritty LA crime dramas are a soft spot of mine. “Bank robbery capitol of the world” opens this score and it’s everything I could have hoped for from Martinez: ambient, electronic, dreamy and, as a bonus, with that misty echo that always makes me think fo the movie shots from LA with that yellowish dusty look. I remember this quiet sound is what I loved about Mark Mancina’s score for another LA crime drama, “Training day”. I like a powerful atmosphere setting opening like this one. CLiff Martinez’ neurotic and pulsating sounds simply works.

Every now and then this wonderful composer calms down the frantic musical demons in his mind and writes a score that is mostly reflective instead of psychotic; I love his work just the same but I have always been more inclined towards the quieter side of the ambient genre and I find plenty of gems in “Den of thieves”. Of course this is an action score so Cliff turns up the volume every now and then with electric guitars and suffocating tense motifs which I enjoy just as much. This is a score that is very easy to listen to and captivating from the first moments.

The score is very clearly and cleverly divided between long action pieces and short, clocking at barely a minute, quieter ambient inserts. The whole score is a atmospheric heaven so if you like this genre or if you enjoy previous Martinez scores like “Drive” you will adore this one. I just love getting lost between these electronic layers as if I was getting lost among my own thoughts. There are few composers who can write ambient electronic music as well as Cliff Martinez and he isn’t losing his touch. Ah the sound of “Merrimen in the Morning”…the glimmering reflection of these electronic motifs, how it soothes me, how it calms me down and how in the same time it makes me think of the landscape of LA bridges and long days.

The music of Cliff Martinez entices my imagination and just plucks me out of my every day life and into a sanctuary where nothing moves and I can focus on whatever I want. Then the mood changes and the pulsating thriller vibe takes over and raises my adrenaline level. Den of thieves” is Martinez at his best and I could listen to this kind of music for hours and hours without caring about or noticing the passing of time. You cannot go wrong with this one and I wish more thrillers sounded like this.

Cue rating: 96 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 40 / 60

Album excellence: 68%

Highlights:
Bank Robbery Capitol of the World
Let’s Go
We’re Cop Killers Now
Donnie
We’ll be in Touch
Strolling Right In
Strolling Right Out
You a Cop
Nick Drives
Merrimen in the Morning
Change of Plans
Here Comes Security
Thanks for the Advice
Driver Confirmation
Low Calorie Shootout
Everything was Accounted For
You’re a Beast, Man

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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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