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Good thriller score from Revell has many fine moments
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album cover copyright (c) 2007 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation; review copyright (c) 2007 James Southall
It's funny how time changes things - back when it was released in 1998, The Siege seemed like a fairly routine thriller whose depiction of terrorist attacks on New York City seemed preposterously far-fetched; now they are made to look rather tame compared with what actually happened three years later. Edward Zwick's film, with Denzel Washington, Annette Bening and Bruce Willis, has surprisingly complex undertones (even though ultimately it's just another action film), with no clear bad guys or good guys - apart from Washington's noble FBI agent. He brings a sense of class to the film, as he usually does, and it's decent enough.
Zwick's films almost always have very expressive, "obvious" scores, so it was a bit of a surprise that he picked Graeme Revell for The Siege, since Revell is a composer whose film scores do not generally assert themselves and be up-front. In fact, Revell wrote a more expressive score than is typical and, while it hardly jumps out of the film like Legends of the Fall or The Last Samurai, it has an important role to play. It opens with "The Sheik's Abduction", which features ethnic wailing before it became so irritatingly common; and it is very effective here.
"The Blue Bus" is the first of the explosive action cues for the (literally) explosive onscreen action. It's not as distinctive as the opening, but again works pretty well. "City of Fear" is one of the strongest pieces - it's very short, but the combination of ethnic infusions perfectly reflects the unclear nature of which side actually has the moral high-ground in the film, suggesting a mixture is where the truth lies. There's a sense of emotion about "Martial Law", of regretful acquiescence to a course of action which is clearly wrong, which suggests a composer who understood the material a lot better than the screenwriter did - it underscores the scene where the film falls off a cliff from being an above-average thriller to being a ridiculous shoot-em-up, but on disc somehow has a real air of quality.
"Torture" goes against the action, with the voice used here to suggest the suffering, rather than Revell opting to literally underscore the scene. It's another decent one. "The Prisoners' Release" is a subtly uplifting finale cue, which doesn't suffer from the schmaltz these things often do. The Siege is in general a pretty impressive thriller score with a lot more to latch on to than Revell's music for these films often has, and if you can find it then it's worth the investment - no masterpiece, but a good, solid effort.