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The Old Guard
  • Composed by Volker Bertelmann and Dustin O’Halloran
  • Lakeshore / 46m

A rather dull action movie which doesn’t feature much action, Netflix’s The Old Guard is currently benefiting from a kind of captive audience scenario because people can’t go to the cinema to see new movies. I doubt many people would have watched it otherwise. It does offer some intriguing musical opportunities though: a small band of immortals who go round righting various wrongs, protecting the innocent and so on. On all levels, these musical opportunities were not taken: the film has some of the worst song placement I can ever remember (they’re the wrong songs, used in the wrong places) and sadly the score, by Volker Bertelmann and Dustin O’Halloran – who picked up a fairly unlikely Oscar nomination for Lion a few years back, a decent if unmemorable drama score – has very little to offer.

The score essentially has two states: either simple chords offering some sort of ambient aural wallpaper, or occasionally action music where lots of drums appear and endless blasts from the good old HORN OF DOOM. (Actually, it’s been a while! But I haven’t really missed it.) There is much more of the former than the latter, it has to be said, and for the most part it’s barely-audible even with the volume turned right up. It’s very hard to comprehend exactly what the intention was behind the music – its placement in the film seems almost random, and there is no response at all to whatever is happening on-screen – it’s just there, in between the lousy songs. On disc it’s not offensive or anything – just nothing happens.

Rating: * | |

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  1. Hawkins (Reply) on Friday 7 August, 2020 at 05:07

    Yet another really lazily written review of a modern score by Southall. Yet again I wonder why he ever bothers to cover modern film music at all if he’s going to put in such a half hearted effort of writing a review.

    Compare the level of detail and analytical acumen that Southall put into reviewing Morricone’s score for “The Thing” (even though it is often considered a lesser effort by the maestro) to the dull, perfunctory writing style of this review.

    What’s surprising is that for such a short review, there’s such redundant phrases. He says that there’s “some of the worst song placement I can ever remember” and then needlessly says that these are “they’re the wrong songs, used in the wrong places” – as if that wasn’t already implied by the “worst song placement” remark.

    Does Southall even have an editor?

    Elsewhere he repeats turns of phrase that he has already used in previous reviews (“HORN OF DOOM” etc). Southall’s tendency to recycle himself in his writing is as shameless as James Horner’s self-plagiarism in music.

    Southall should stick to reviewing classic film scores. Every time he makes a half hearted attempt at showing how “relevant” he is by churning out a lazy review of a modern film score, Southall just ends up showing how out of touch he is.