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Money Train
  • Composed by Mark Mancina
  • La-La Land Records / 2011 / 40:53

A buddy-cop action movie, 1995’s Money Train (set on New York’s subway system) was probably hoped to generate the same kind of returns as the previous collaboration between its two stars, Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson, White Men Can’t Jump.  It didn’t – reviews were poor, box office returns were disappointing.  At that time, Mark Mancina was briefly one of the hottest composers in Hollywood when it came to big action movies, after the spectacular success of Speed; and that’s presumably why director Joseph Ruben turned to him here.  The score is predominantly action-focused, though there are some softer guitar-led passages which recall Michael Kamen’s approach to the Lethal Weapon series – these are nice enough, but not very memorable.

The action material which dominates is largely disappointing.  The main theme sounds a bit like one of the themes from The Rock (which would come a year later) but this is nowhere near so enjoyable.  A big problem is the incredibly processed sound.  A huge orchestra is credited in the album and Mancina makes a big point in the liner notes about how great it was to work with an orchestra, how determined he was to avoid samples in order to distinguish this score from some of his others, and even bemoaning the fact that so many action scores today do not use orchestras – and yet this music is recorded in such a way that makes this large orchestra sound like samples, and not very expensive samples at that.  It’s such a cheap sound – coupled with the uninspired theme, this is one of the least enjoyable of the plethora of Media Ventures action scores from the decade.  (One big positive about the release – something I don’t usually comment on, but it’s worthy of note here – is the beautiful design of the booklet, by Jim Titus – so nice to see something different and refreshing – top marks for that.)  *

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