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Death Wish
  • Composed by Ludwig Göransson
  • Sony Classical / 55m

A remake of Michael Winner’s most famous film, Death Wish sees Bruce Willis step into the role made so famous by Charles Bronson in 1974.  I am writing these words on the eve of the Academy Awards ceremony honouring the best films of 2017; I have little doubt that in a year’s time this film will be dominating the ceremony.  For the music, director Eli Roth turned to Ludwig Göransson, recently the subject of much acclaim for Black Panther.  Well, don’t expect anything like Black Panther.  I’m sure you wouldn’t (there’s little reason for the scores to be similar, after all) – and predictably enough, what we have here is a gritty modern action/thriller score light on melody and heavy on the HORN OF DOOM, I’m afraid (not even the real thing, it’s a horrible synthetic variant).

There are these little devices that run through the score – a two-note rhythm incessantly signals any action, some agitated strings for suspense – and I dislike all that.  But fighting its way in just for a few minutes is some real quality – the pairing of “Jordan” and “Riding the Trains” offers an austere piano melody with some tremendously atmospheric electronic accompaniment which is so impressive; the plaintive strings of the end title are OK.  If only that quality had been allowed to seep into the main parts of the score, which is just such dreary modern thriller music at times veering on being so unlistenable, it could almost be by Junkie XL (“Fleeing the Scene” includes a sound effect that sounds like a flock of seagulls; “The Reapers First Victim” can’t even boast an apostrophe).  Roth speaks glowingly of Göransson in the liner notes but if this is the sort of thing he gets him to write, I hope it doesn’t turn out to be a lasting collaboration because this composer’s so much better than this.

Rating: * 1/2 | |

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  1. Jules (Reply) on Sunday 4 March, 2018 at 04:57

    These scores are interesting things. I’m not sure they will ever work as subjects of your score reviews James, simply because they often feel so rote and would bore the heck out of most people, but they do work quite effectively in the films they are written for. Modern thriller and horror etc. has unfortunately moved almost all the way across to atmospheric emphasis, which is a shame, but it’s obviously what directors/studios want.
    I agree about Goransson though, Creed is one of favourite scores and I loved Black Panther. Real shame.