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Soundtrack review: Death wish (Ludwig Goransson – 2018)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Death wish (Ludwig Goransson – 2018)



“Death Wish” is an upcoming American vigilante action film directed by Eli Roth, a remake of the 1974 film of the same name which starred Charles Bronson in the lead, based on the 1972 novel written by Brian Garfield. The film stars Bruce Willis as Paul Kersey. Dr. Paul Kersey (Bruce Willis) is a surgeon who only sees the aftermath of his city’s violence as it’s rushed into his ER -until his wife (Elisabeth Shue) and college-age daughter (Camila Morrone) are viciously attacked in their suburban home. With the police overloaded with crimes, Paul, burning for revenge, hunts for his family’s assailants to deliver justice. As the anonymous slayings of criminals grabs the media’s attention, the city wonders if this deadly avenger is a guardian angel…or a grim reaper.

Who doesn’t know the classical movie and subsequent franchise starring Charles Bronson? The original movie was visceral and difficult to watch and now the remake has Bruce Willis in the main role and, as big a fan as I am, I am not sure I see him as the vigilante type. Ludwig Goransson wrote the score and he already has his hall of fame place assure for this year after the fantastic “Black Panther”.

The world has changed since the grim New Yord 70s so the funky sound of the original movie has no place in the new one. The composers opens with the pulsating “Race to the hospital” which sounds just about similar to the trend for dark thrillers in the past few years. It’s a dark and catchy introduction into the score. Then comes the longest piece of the score, “Intruders” and if the title is any indication it will play over the most difficult to watch scene of the movie. This is where the tone turns to dense, horror like with that unmistakable sound of claws scratching walls and ticking sounds that mimic tension. The composer mixes music with sound effects to create an uncomfortable atmosphere. There is a buildup midway through the cue that breaks the suspenseful monotony with a tortured string motif. The cue is modular, alive and affecting and while a music track can’t compete with the impact of visceral images when it comes to moments like these, I must say this cue made me me feel all the horror.

It’s nice when after a cue as intense as this come a couple of soothing solo piano pieces that repair some of the emotional damage. “Riding the trains” is an ode to sorrow and loss. I am hypnotised by this beautiful, classical cue. It has that melancholic feel of a quiet and empty winter day and I bask in it knowing that it won’t last and the electronic tension will come back.

I appreciate that, as always, Ludwig Goransson is the enemy of regular and generic and adds something extra, experiments with his sound. Whenever I feel during this score that I might have a moment I won’t like, the composer spikes the music with an extra dose of adrenaline or violence, like in “Fleeing the scene”, that pulls me right back into the score. I like the aggression in the music because this whole story is about burning, unlimited aggression both from criminals and from the vigilante.

While it might not be a score that I could listen to again on its own it has everything it needs to make the movie work at both ends of the spectrum: violence and tender emotion.

Cue rating: 85 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 25 / 54

Album excellence: 46%

Riding the Trains
Fleeing the Scene
Going Viral
Shootout at Blowout / Stapling
Jordan Returns
Gone for Good
Death Wish End Titles

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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