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Furious 7
  • Composed by Brian Tyler
  • Back Lot Music / 2015 / 77m

Apparently the most financially successful franchise in the history of Universal Studios (yes… really…) these Fast & Furious movies are likely to keep on coming with no sign of any diminishing enthusiasm from worldwide audiences.  There’s a different director this time (James Wan took over from Justin Lin who had made the previous four) but otherwise the formula remains intact.  There was one big change though, of course: Furious 7 was being shot when one of its stars, Paul Walker, died in a car accident and filming was completed with his brothers being used as stand-ins and his face and voice digitally inserted in some moments.  At the time of writing this, the movie has been released for three weeks and is the sixth highest grossing movie of all time.  (All time!)

BT (which does not stand for Brian Tyler) scored the first entry in the franchise back in 2001 and David Arnold did the second, but since then it has been the Brian Tyler show.  He didn’t do the sixth (Lucas Vidal provided its very Tyler-like music) but he returns for the latest instalment and his music is very much a continuation from where he left off, with the familiar theme (bolstered this time by additional electronics) heard immediately in the album’s opening track.  Next up is the first of numerous thrilling action cues, “Paratroopers”, in the patented Tyler style.

Brian Tyler

Brian Tyler

Then comes the surprise – emotion.  Musically this series has all been about muscle and adrenaline but this time round the composer got the chance to do some much lighter sequences (albeit only a few).  “Awakening” is still bold and striking, but it’s nice to have a change of pace in one of these scores, the chance for a bit of a breather.  The cathartic finale, which feels almost like an apotheosis, comes in “Farewell” and is the culmination of that side, a touching tribute by the composer to Walker, who appeared in all but one of these films.

Despite that side (which is appreciated), the action is of course still the real star of the show and dominates the album.  Tyler seems to have more than his share of critics but he’s one of the best around at this sort of thing (and one of the few who would use a big orchestra and use it properly alongside the electronics, guitars and drums in a movie like this).  Not just an orchestra either – a choir, chanting Latin, joins the fun for the ludicrously over the top (and ludicrously enjoyable) “Battle of the Titans”.  Needless to say the pace is extreme – the music lives up to both of the series’ titular adjectives, even if one of them has been dropped from the title (and not the same one that was dropped from the fifth instalment – the OCD side of me is in a state of despair whenever I think about the inconsistent titling of these films).

Furious 7 is ridiculously entertaining for the most part, though there are some duller moments which drag the album back a bit (77 minutes is truly far too long a running time).  Some might be put off by the slightly increased electronics this time, but that is countered by the increased levels of emotion on display.  Tyler’s the rock star film composer and the perfect man for this type of film, the energy and enthusiasm on display absolutely contagious.  By and large you know what you’re going to get from a score like this – only fans of Tyler’s previous entries in the franchise need apply.  Sometimes that’s just fine (no need to reinvent the wheel here) and even if it does go on a bit too long, this is one great thrill ride of an album.

Rating: *** 1/2

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