- Composed by Ramin Djawadi
- Varèse Sarabande / 2012 / 68:51
Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds star in Safe House, a thriller which sees the pair (playing the CIA’s most wanted fugitive and a rookie agent, respectively) trying to escape together from South African mercenaries while at the same time Washington tries to escape from Reynolds. The film marks the American début of Swedish director Daniel Espinosa and has generally been reviewed as a reasonable Bourne Identity clone. Composer Ramin Djawadi may, like Bourne composer John Powell, come from the Hans Zimmer stable, but his score is a rarity amongst modern thrillers in that it doesn’t really owe that much of a debt to the famous Powell style established in that series. Djawadi does focus on the percussion in the action sequences, but in a different way from Powell – and the music around those parts is very much its own thing, with electronics featuring heavily to create an effective, ambient soundscape in many cues which is laden with suspense and is frequently pretty gripping.
The action music’s the highlight, though, even if it doesn’t exactly break new ground. “Get in the Trunk” provides some early excitement; “Lanta” is a great piece towards the album’s end; and the highly-percussive “Off the Grid” the score’s literal and figurative centrepiece, midway through the lengthy album. That lengthiness is, sadly, ultimately its undoing – I haven’t mentioned it for a while, but it’s hard to write about Safe House without noting – 68 minutes? For this? Really? It’s a great pity, because the album features easily the most accomplished music I’ve ever heard from this composer – a tighter album could have been a really fine, grippingly dark listening experience. There’s nothing particularly objectionable here, there’s just too much that’s too similar and so it rather runs out of steam long before it concludes. To focus on the positives, for the most part this is a smart and stylish, very modern thriller score and I’m sure that many will enjoy it. ***