Latest reviews of new albums:
  • Composed by John Ottman
  • Varèse Sarabande / 2014 / 54m

Liam Neeson plays an air marshal in Non-Stop, who finds himself having to prevent the passengers on his transatlantic flight being knocked off one by one unless the mad man’s financial demands are met.  In the last few years John Ottman hasn’t been as prolific as he once was, but 2014 could be a big year for him and bring him back into focus: later on Bryan Singer’s new X-Men movie is likely to get a lot of attention, but meanwhile this one – the composer’s fourth collaboration with Spanish director Jaume Collet-Serra – seems to have some potential to be successful.  The soundtrack album opens very promisingly, with a dynamic, muscular main title piece built around an enjoyable theme.  It’s a shame the dreaded HORN OF DOOM is there, otherwise it’s a fine piece with a genuine musical structure which is rare in this kind of film.

After that, you can pretty much divide the album in half – and frankly may as well skip most of the first half.  The meandering, uneventful music is probably fine in the film, but after a while I find myself tired of being told something is about to happen – I just want it to happen.  A track or two would have been fine, but we didn’t need so much of it on the album – the desolate electronics of “First Text” are very impressive in isolation, but I think would have much more impact if they’d been placed immediately after the opening track and then used as a single springboard into the more explosive music heard later in the score (rather than being one of ten tracks, covering almost half an hour, used to fulfil that role – the dark, tense “Circling Passengers” is the other good piece in the lengthy sequence).  I imagine that a lot of people will do as I first did and dismiss the thing as being completely dull and switch it off before they actually get to the more interesting part of the album, which would clearly be a pity.  When things do take off, it’s not actually with an action track, but the tender “Reluctant Passenger / Blue Ribbon”, which has a lovely warmth to it; then come the album’s last 20 minutes or so, which are more dominated by action.  It’s not the most distinctive music in the world, but it’s decent enough (the brief action climax “Crash Landing” is terrific, actually), and had the album gone “Non-Stop” – “First Text” – “Circling Passengers” and then picked up from track twelve, it would have been a largely unspectacular but very solid 90s Goldsmith-style action album.  But it didn’t do that and I fear most people will turn it off before it gets going.

Rating: ** | |

Tags: , ,

  1. Solaris (Reply) on Tuesday 18 February, 2014 at 06:48

    “with a dynamic, muscular main title piece built around an enjoyable theme”

    True, even though that Theme is a note-for-note copy of the ‘Erebor Theme’ from Shores “Hobbit”-Scores. 😉

  2. Edmund Meinerts (Reply) on Tuesday 18 February, 2014 at 13:29

    I wouldn’t expect James to recognize a theme from those Hobbit scores he so hates, though.