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Unlistenable garbage is a sorry reflection on the state of modern film music
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
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Album cover copyright (c) 2007 Lakeshore Records; review copyright (c) 2007 James Southall
Shooter is a thriller from director Antoine Fuqua about a plot to assassinate the US President, and one man's bid to stop it which leads to he himself being falsely accused. This plot sounds rather familiar to me as a viewer of 24. Anyway. Fuqua has an interesting history of composers on his films - back when he was making a name for himself (culminating in Training Day), Media Ventures alumnus Mark Mancina was the man for him. After he hit the big time with that film, he "upgraded" to Hans Zimmer for Tears of the Sun and the hilarious King Arthur, one of the funniest films of the decade. With his career back on the downward slope, you guessed it, Mancina's back.
Mancina threatened good things earlier in his career, when he broke away from the creative shackles of Media Ventures, but when he went it alone the projects never really seemed to arive, and he's been scoring rather obscure films these last few years. He certainly showed that he's a talented composer with his earlier work, and let us hope that some day that talented composer can show his skills again - sadly, he doesn't do it with Shooter.
With absolutely nothing to say, this is film music of the worst kind, designed to simply sit in the film and operate essentially as an extra layer of sound effects. Whatever your views on the function of film music, whether as something to enhance emotion, to say things to the viewer that aren't obvious from the on-screen events alone, or even just to sit there and make things exciting when they need to be and tense when they need to be and so on, I can't imagine that anyone's views - especially Mark Mancina's - are that it should just be there so there is something there, but steadfastly keeping out of the way and making sure nobody would notice it, let alone have his enjoyment or understanding of the film increased by it.
There's an orchestra here, but its interesting appearances are limited to the odd burst of a few seconds of snare drums or brass or something; the rest of the time, it ambles along with the synth pads, and you can barely notice there's any music coming from your speakers at all. Putting almost an hour of it on the album seems to verge on being sadistic. However, I've come to realise that I am clearly becoming more and more disconnected from mainstream opinion on film scores - clearly directors love this kind of music, else they wouldn't keep asking for it, and clearly listeners love it too, else they wouldn't keep putting albums out with scores like this on it - personally, when I think of the kind of score being written for crime thrillers thirty years ago, I can't help but conclude that film music's evolution over that time has been a distinct and depressing devolution.