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Energetic action score is decent enough but ruined by appalling album presentation
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2008 DreamWorks LLC and Paramount Pictures; review copyright (c) 2008 James Southall.
From director D.J. Caruso comes Eagle Eye, a chase thriller about a man and a woman who have to perform various tasks from a mysterious voice on their phones to avoid dire consequences. My favourite review of the film begins by saying it "tests the viewing public's tolerance for enjoying crass stupidity". Unfortunately Brian Tyler's career has rather become laden with films for which the same words may apply, though at least the music - while perhaps "functional" may be the best way of describing it - usually stands on a much higher level than the films.
The best thing about films like this for composers is that they usually allow them to go wildly over-the-top because the filmmakers want music that's as loud and frenetic as possible. This score begins with the Media Ventures-like power anthem main theme, but the frilly orchestrations which follow would never be associated with MV. It's a constant barrage of furious action music for 77 minutes, very much in the style of past Tyler scores like War (thankfully without quite so many John Powell lifts) and parts of Timeline.
For those who love this sort of thing (and I know there are many), you'll probably be in heaven. Fast, furious and exciting, it's a real adrenaline ride. I guess the problem is that - while I'm as much a fan of this kind of action music as anyone, when it's done this well - it can be really, really hard work. Without any sense of refinement, any nuance or subtlelty, throughout the whole album, it's really tiring. It's not exactly a feeling of having been repeatedly beaten over the head with a baseball bat that you can get after listening to an Alan Silvestri score - the orchestration is a bit slicker - but there can be a slight sense of being dazed and confused.
I remember back in the day, with union restrictions generally limiting LA-recorded film score albums to 30 or 40 minutes, bootlegs would sometimes surface, described as "recording sessions edition" or something similar, featuring literally that - all the cues thrown in together, with no particular flow, endless repetition, and usually entirely unlistenable. Sadly, that has pretty much become the norm for the production of soundtrack albums, particularly from the younger generation of composers. "More is better" seems to be a motto which applies to all things in life today, even when it blatantly isn't, such as with Eagle Eye's album. You could really, truly produce a fantastic album from this source music, but sadly no attempt has been made to do so. It's pretty much 77 minutes of precisely the same thing, with no change of pace, orchestration, or variation of any kind at all - you'd probably need to shave 45-50 minutes off to get there, but that really wouldn't be a problem on a properly-produced album. We don't get that, so very few people will be able to get through this in one sitting. At the very least it would be great if album producers would actually produce a proper album and then if they want to fill out the CD with more and more of the same, just leave that stuff as bonus tracks so those who want to, can listen - because it's doubtful that many people will take the time to sit down and produce a decent 25-30 minute playlist from this material which could actually be enjoyed rather than endured. Tyler has produced some great music here - it's such a pity he's ruined it with this ridiculous album presentation.