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Exciting action score marks yet another string to Isham's bow
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
* * * 1/2
Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2007 Paramount Pictures; review copyright (c) 2007 James Southall
A mild return to form for director Lee Tamahori (who showed such promise with The Edge before descending to Die Another Day and XXX: State of the Union), Next is a reasonably engaging thriller with Nicolas Cage playing a man who can see a few minutes into the future. Tamahori was building a nice relationship with Jerry Goldsmith before the composer's death, and after using Marco Beltrami for the XXX sequel he turned this time to Mark Isham, in a particularly rich vein of form with a string of outstanding scores over the past few years turning him into one of the most consistently-impressive and rewarding film composers around.
That said, if there's been one area where I'm not sure Isham has quite nailed it yet, it's been in thrillers, with his work on films like The Net, Blade and Twisted being slightly bland and uninteresting. Therefore, it's highly pleasing to say that he has now cracked this genre too, with an engaging and exciting score. Opening with the gentle "8:09", the action music is not far around the corner, with "Give Me Two Minutes" ushering in the engaging style which seems to be inspired both by Goldsmith and the man who is probably his successor as the king of the score for this type of film, John Powell, while also bearing the unmistakable Isham hallmarks.
The integration of electronics into the large orchestra is impressive - "Pier 18" is a case in point, with both real and synthesised percussion combining effortlessly to keep the music moving forwards at a brisk pace, and the small motivic fragments bringing an excellent reminder of the way Goldsmith used to score films like this. Any score like this needs a share of softer moments to allow the listener to pause for breath, and these are provided with a series of surprisingly emotional pieces for piano and strings, such as the lovely "Carlotti Defines" - it takes a special talent to inject what sounds like genuine emotion into an action score, and Isham delivers.
The composer turns this orchestral ensemble into something very different immediately afterwards, in the suspenseful "A Few Minutes of Your Time", which builds tension expertly (vaguely recalling similar passages in the composer's masterful The Black Dahlia). There's a wonderfully consistent sound here which makes listening to the 46-minute album a real pleasure. For sure, it is not as substantial as Isham's other recent works, but it's good to hear such a well-constructed modern action score, from a composer who continues to impress.