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  • Composed by Laurent Eyquem
  • Caldera Records / 2014 / 42m

Tokarev (retitled Rage in America) is a revenge thriller starring Nicolas Cage as a man out to get those (in the Russian mafia) responsible for his daughter’s death.  It got pretty terrible reviews with many critics seemingly disappointed that it didn’t fall into the “so bad it’s good” category that Cage’s films often do.  Laurent Eyquem deservedly got a lot of positive attention last year for his rich, moving scores for Copperhead and Winnie Mandela – traditionally orchestral, emotion-based scoring.  It’s interesting therefore to find out what he can do with a very different kind of film and (obviously) he has written a very different kind of score, with two distinct sides to it that blend together well.  The first side is the very modern electro-thriller music he wrote for the action and suspense sequences, which sounds a little like an updated version of those great thriller scores Ennio Morricone wrote for films like this in the late 1970s and early 80s.  Electronics are very much at the fore, unstintingly oppressive and bleak, very effective and indeed impressive but often not really very pleasant.

Fortunately the other side to the score is very effective and impressive and if not exactly pleasant (indeed much of it is somewhat harrowing) then certainly very listenable and emotionally rewarding, with some very dramatic and very moving music for the film’s more emotional moments.  In “All Is Lost / The Funeral” the composer expertly blends his requiem-like main theme with a brief extract from the Irish song “I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen” in a rather chilling manner (Eyquem’s theme is allowed to breathe by itself in the following cue, the outstanding “A Box Full of Memories”).  The pick of the action cues is probably “Room by Room”, a nailbiting piece of excitement; and on the occasions when the composer shines a light through the bleakness, such as the unusual combination of female voice and balalaika in “You Killed My Brother”, it’s seriously impressive.  The emotional highpoint is undoubtedly the moving end titles piece, a beautiful conclusion to the score.  Tokarev isn’t as immediately attractive as the composer’s two previous best-known scores, but there’s a lot of good material here and the music is consistently interesting.  Eyquem’s quite obviously a film composer to keep a keen eye on and this score only adds to that feeling.

Rating: *** 1/2 | |

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