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  • Composed by Mark Mancina
  • La-La Land Records / 2012 / 69:25

It’s a good job they didn’t make Speed where I’m from.  I’m not sure that any form of public transportation in the United Kingdom has ever reached fifty miles per hour, even though they’re usually chock full of people desperate to get to the benefits office as quickly as possible to collect their lavish handouts to spend on booze and drugs.  Jan de Bont’s film, on the other hand, is set in far more glamorous surroundings and was a decent action flick, gaining unexpectedly strong reviews (there was even praise for Keanu Reeves) and raking in a box office fortune.  It was 1994 and at the time, not all Hollywood action scores sounded like they were written by a Hans Zimmer clone.  Speed does sound like it was written by a Hans Zimmer clone, but actually predates some of the famous scores it at least partially resembles.

It’s old school, “classic” Media Ventures stuff (if you bristle at the use of that adjective in that circumstance, I can only apologise).  Its best feature are its two main themes, both a product of that Faltermeyer-to-Zimmer journey.  They’re incredibly cheesy and now sound so dated it’s hard to believe there was ever a time when they didn’t, but they’re really enjoyable tunes.  Saying that, once is enough for either of them, and sadly the the other 65 minutes of the album are largely undistinguished and sometimes borderline repellent.  Repetitive, unbelievably cheap (a gigantic orchestra is listed inside the album but you can never hear it over the tinny synths), it’s difficult to imagine that anyone could find anything of real value other than nostalgia in there.  Bleeps and squirts all over the place, uninspired drum loops, apparent lack of structure on a few occasions – it doesn’t do much for me.  Mancina’s work on the sequel was many times more impressive.  The positive reaction to the album release suggests I’m in a minority (possibly of one), but I’ve been there before and my sub-50mph life has gone on.  * 1/2 |

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  1. Christopher Avis (Reply) on Saturday 31 March, 2012 at 00:42

    Agreed James. I can’t believe the improvement in Mancina’s work from the first to the second film. The latter Speed score is a real guilty pleasure of a listen. I will say that the first score does a decent job of serving the mindless film it was written for.

  2. Jason Farcone (Reply) on Friday 12 July, 2013 at 20:43

    Funny review, booze and drugs. I particularly like “both a product of that Faltermeyer-to-Zimmer journey.”… which is essentially/exactly? what Mancina’s Speed score of that fiiine 1994 era is; Top Gun combined with… hmmm, Backdraft?

    Though I must say * 1/2 seems harsh. It’s certainly no masterpiece of symphonic’s?, but imo it is pretty damn memorable. At least, the main theme is. I recall when I was a WEE lad of 11 or so, with my brother of a few years younger sitting in the back seat of the car on our way back from.. somewhere.. trying to get him to play the IDENTIFY THIS THEME game, where I’d hum some random movie theme and have him guess what it was. Granted at that time I could probably only hum half a dozen themes from film scores, but anyway, I remember distinctly bolting out Mancina’s theme for Speed; I don’t recall, however, if he identified it, probably not. (Speed was actually one of the best movie-going experiences I/we had at a theater as kids — ‘mighty exciting it was — alongside True Lies if I remember around roughly the same time. And Keanu Reeves DID deserve (at least some) praise#%#!

    The first two tracks on this score are basically what I think of when it comes to SPEED, ‘Main Titles’ and I believe ‘The Rescue’. Combined they add up to 5 minutes of ultra-cool, really only slightly dated media-venture, synthesized radical..ness. The following few tracks are legitimately entertaining too, particularly the one where the old hag tries to get off the bus to no avail, putting it mildly.

    This “Christopher Avis” 😛 thinks Mancina’s work was that much of an improvement for Speed 2: CRUISE CONTROL like yourself. I really don’t agree. While that score was definitely (much) more entertaining as a whole, it was far sillier, a bit messy and all over the place, not to mention a good deal more cheap sounding. Hard to blame Mancina though when Speed 2 was, well surely, one of the very worst films ever made, big budget or not. At least Speed sounds serious and melodramatic throughout, with somewhat of an identity; in fact, probably more of a conscious identity than any subsequent Mancina score (though he did write some that were more impressive, Twister Tarzan and Return to Paradise spring to mind.

    Then again, I even dig that lauded Mancina/Rabin collaboration known as ‘Con Air’ a decent amount. Two talented composers who threw out a handful of worthy scores and then disappeared or (involuntarily) disappeared due to their lack of creating anything worth hearing, really.

    ..and stumbled across this curious statement on your ‘Steamboy’ review;

    “Providing the music is Steve Jablonsky, part of the Media Ventures crowd (though I don’t think it’s called Media Ventures any more). Composers from that stable have scored numerous animations over the last few years…”

    Stable, James? is there some kind of subtext you’re hinting at here? 😀

    And I think Speed was the first (and last) time Sandra Bullock appeared remotely attractive/sexy. Nah I kid she held up for a few years after that but……… what happened exactly with that?

    • James Southall (Reply) on Friday 12 July, 2013 at 22:49

      That’s probably the first comment that’s longer than the review itself. Well done, Jason!