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The Rescue
  • Composed by Bruce Broughton
  • Intrada / 2014 / 73m

Four US Navy SEALS are captured in action in North Korea and threatened with execution.  Naturally enough, the only people who could possibly rescue them from the nasty communists are their teenage children.  The best thing about The Rescue seems to be the name of its director, the magnificently-monikered Ferdinand Fairfax.  I wish I was called Ferdinand Fairfax.  Composer Bruce Broughton was coming off a string of hits at the time but had never really tackled a straightforward action film, which is what attracted him to it.  His melodic score is an interesting one, combining the typical elegance and finesse of his well-known orchestral style with some concessions to trendy movements of the time, with synths and drum machines (strangely, the latter portion wasn’t mentioned in the album’s press release).  As you might expect, the former is almost entirely successful and appealing and the latter is almost entirely unsuccessful and unappealing, as was almost always the case when talented orchestral composers tried to do such things in the 1980s; fortunately the balance of the score is considerably to the former.

While the main theme is unbelievably cheesy when heard in its major key guise (sounding more like a parody to be honest), it’s very effective in its minor variant often used to anchor the action music (where is sounds related to the main theme Broughton wrote a few years later for Shadow Conspiracy).  Indeed, it’s the action that’s the highlight here, an early example being the wonderful “Boat Chase”, a few ethnic tinges adding colour to the brilliantly-orchestrated excitement.  Later, the 14-minute sequence occupied by consecutive cues “The Rescue Begins” and “The Rescue” is what everything’s been building towards, and apart from the cheesy triumphant appearance of the main theme and the occasional synthetic malaise is very impressive – I love the fugue in the latter.  Had there been a properly-produced score album at the time of the film I think it could have been very good indeed, showcasing the score’s action set-pieces and some beautifully-detailed orchestral passages in between; unfortunately this album, running well over an hour, allows those highlights to be diluted considerably by dull suspense pieces which make the whole thing too much of a slog to get through.  I remember how pleased I was a few years ago when Intrada announced their Special Collection CDs would include the best possible album programme and then the rest of the score would be placed in an “Extras” section at the end of the discs; I really wish they had followed through with that (rather than just using the bonus track section for alternative takes and source music).  Still, of course it’s better to have this album than no album at all, even if the presentation does mean it won’t get listened to nearly as often as it might have been.  Certainly worth getting for the handful of first-rate action cues and I’m sure given enough time it’s possible to construct a playlist which works better than the full score does as a listening experience.

Rating: *** | |

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  1. Jens (Reply) on Tuesday 1 July, 2014 at 15:46

    If you focus on only the last half hour, this score is a perfect listening experience. I realize there’s a lot of not particularly exciting underscore early on, but the later action music is so outstanding, it warrants at least another star, IMHO.

  2. Paul Cote (Reply) on Tuesday 1 July, 2014 at 17:04

    I was actually hoping that this would be a more negative review – that way, I could have said, “Wow, guess Intrada’s really scraping the Broughtom of the barrel!!” You’re welcome.