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Knight and Day
  • Composed by John Powell
  • Varese Sarabande 302 067 034 2 / 2010 / 54:42

Once, his presence in a film was a virtual guarantee of success; but Tom Cruise’s fall from grace (for reasons completely unrelated to anything he’s done on-screen) means the well-reviewed popcorn action film Knight and Day has only managed to take in about half its budget at the box office so far.  It seems a bit strange that James Mangold – who made the superb, intelligent action movie 3:10 to Yuma before this – should have made it, but still.  This time round, Mangold (who has never worked with the same composer twice in his eight-film career) turned to John Powell for the score.  Powell is about as safe a pair of hands for a Hollywood action movie as anyone around right now and, while he offers little new in this score, it will only serve to enhance his reputation further.

Powell’s now very well-known (and frequently-copied) action style is here, with very modern samples and complex percussion highlighting the propulsive music.  This time round there’s an ethnic twist thanks to the flamenco guitars, with the effect similar to that of the tangos in Mr and Mrs Smith – it makes it even more enjoyable.  I’ve read a surprising number of Powell enthusiasts describing the score as being somewhat dull – I couldn’t disagree more.  For me, it sounds so full of life and vibrant, all notions that a lot of it is similar to previous works by the composer quickly disappear from my mind.  Indeed, for my money it’s his most entertaining album in a couple of years.  ****

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  1. Dave Buzan (Reply) on Monday 2 August, 2010 at 17:20

    I couldn’t agree more! I think this is Powell’s best score since “Mr. and Mrs. Smith.” It’s certainly one of the highlights of the year so far. And I love that funky guitar motif Powell incorporates into so many cues (… the one first heard in the “Running from Roy” cue.)

  2. Edmund Meinerts (Reply) on Monday 2 August, 2010 at 17:24

    Fun? Yes. Undoubtedly. In and of itself your rating is perfect.

    Better than How to Train Your Dragon, though? Never.

  3. Mastadge (Reply) on Friday 6 August, 2010 at 15:10

    Yes, good score. It’s nice to see him revisit the territory he explored in Mr. and Mrs. Smith and has only occasionally touched on since then. Great fun with an infectious theme and propulsive action. I agree though that I probably would not rate it higher then HTTYD, nor even probably Hancock (though granted when I think of Hancock I think only of “Hollywood Blvd” on, as I rarely listen to the shorter cues making up the first half of the album!).

  4. Cindylover1969 (Reply) on Saturday 21 August, 2010 at 21:04

    ” It seems a bit strange that James Mangold – who made the superb, intelligent action movie 3:10 to Yuma before this – should have made it, but still.”

    Not really – he likes to change genres as well as composers (this is the man who also made “Kate & Leopold,” “Identity,” “Walk The Line” and “Girl, Interrupted” as well as doing the Anne Heche TV series “Men in Trees” – he executive produced the show and directed the pilot).

    I wouldn’t call it as good as “How To Train Your Dragon,” but it’s good to see he didn’t just do a Xerox of “Mr. and Mrs. Smith.” How can you slate a score with accordions during a fight scene?