- Composed by Harry Gregson-Williams
- Varèse Sarabande / 2014 / 52m
A remake of the popular 1980s tv series starring Edward Woodward, The Equalizer‘s filmmakers searched high and low in the hunt for an actor with a great physical resemblance to the late British star, eventually meeting great fortune when a casting agency sent them the details of Denzel Washington, who is barely distinguishable from Woodward (I have never seen them in the same room, which makes me wonder). Director Antoine Fuqua hired Harry Gregson-Williams to write the score, but then seemingly told him not to actually write a score at all. Says the composer, “Because the director wanted the action to be believable, the score had to be rooted in reality. We couldn’t have French horns announcing this character as if he were some super hero.” Yes, this film really does sound so incredibly realistic (“A former black ops commando who faked his death for a quiet life in Boston comes out of his retirement to rescue a young girl and finds himself face to face with Russian gangsters”) that the only thing preventing viewers from imagining they were looking at a candidly-shot documentary would have been a score that injected some emotion or drama.
Of course, Gregson-Williams previously scored 76,937 indistinguishable action/thrillers starring Denzel Washington and directed by Tony Scott (with scores similarly hard to tell apart); and that’s the starting point for The Equalizer. There certainly is a main theme this time round – surprisingly it does manage to bring a bit of emotion to the table when it’s heard and evidently piano and strings are far more “realistic” than French horns – who knew? Unfortunately what it is not is memorable – it in one ear and straight out of the other. But it’s like an oasis of film music brilliance in comparison with the bog-standard, resolutely bland modern action/thriller music that surrounds it and makes up the majority of the album’s running time, sounding like it could come from any low-budget cop show tv score written by any Remote Control employee. Gregson-Williams is a talented composer and there are hints of that here and there – and I’m certain that the director’s aim of having a score that doesn’t make his movie any worse has been met; perhaps next time he’ll consider aiming for a score that makes it better.
Rating: * 1/2