Visit the Movie Wave Store | Movie Wave Home | Reviews by Title | Reviews by Composer | Contact me
Dull thriller score fails to set the pulse racing
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
* * 1/2
Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2008 Columbia Pictures Industries; review copyright (c) 2008 James Southall
I thought Vantage Point looked like a pretty decent thriller from the trailer - quite refreshing to see actors of a certain vintage in a film like this, rather than a bunch of kids - but reviews suggest my enthusiasm was possibly misplaced (I'll get to make my own mind up soon enough). Pete Travis's film presents an assassination attempt on a US President from eight different points of view, and the impressive cast features reliable figures like Dennis Quaid, Forest Whitaker, Sigourney Weaver and William Hurt. I was intrigued when I saw that Atli Írvarsson would be providing the music - not because I knew who he was, but because I didn't. I assumed from his name that he was some sort of European arthouse composer being given his big break in Hollywood; but it turns out that he's the latest to drop off the Hans Zimmer production line.
That news tells you pretty much all you need to know about the music, apart from it featuring some guitars (since the film is set in Spain) - we're talking Spy Game here. At least back in the olden days Media Ventures action scores used Backdraft as their template and so you ended up with things like The Rock which may be pretty banal but at least provided great fun, but now it's Spy Game - not an impressive musical work to begin with - that seems to be the model they all want to follow. In fact, Vantage Point is far, far more interesting than Spy Game because it also takes the opportunity to put some of John Powell's Bourne music in here - but it's pretty hard to like.
I think the whole approach taken by these composers to these films can be summed up by the action track "Tightening Circle" - the drum loops build frenetically, and it's effective enough - and then it's almost like someone opens the curtains and it's a bright, sunny day because some interesting-orchestrated music appears for a few seconds... before being abruptly cut off in non-musical style for the drum loops to reappear. It's obvious that people like Írvarsson are capable of writing good music, but they're either unwilling, or prevented from, doing so. It's such a shame that film music has come to this.
If Harry Gregson-Williams is your thing, or you really do love all sorts of music from Hans Zimmer's facility, then you will have no complaints here - it's higher-quality than some of them, and if I'd never heard the three Bourne scores then it would get a much more favourable response from me - but I have, and the majority of the best bits here are like watered-down versions of those; the highest quality comes in the more withdrawn dramatic passages, where the composer uses the orchestra to really good effect - but it's a bit like listening to a composer desperately wanting to do something really interesting, but for whatever reason not doing so.