Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Hurt Locker by Marco Beltrami & Buck Sanders (Review)

I missed The Hurt Locker in theaters, but ended up buying it on Blu-ray just based off the word of mouth. The film is quite a masterfully crafted piece of tension. However, what is probably the most unnoticed element to that tension that goes way beyond the direction and editing is Marco Beltrami & Buck Sanders’ score.

When Marco Beltrami surfaced as one of Hollywood’s “go to” composers I was never really impressed with his work. To me it just seemed like he would churn out stock scores that followed genre formulas. The first score of his that made me eat my words was his brilliant work for The Three Burials Of Melquiades Estrada. I told myself that if he would compose stuff of this calibre more often I’d be a Beltrami fan. He then went ahead and composed 3:10 To Yuma and ended up getting an Oscar nomination.

Hans is the father of pulling the blanket off of ghost writers. Composers like John Powell, Harry Gregson-Williams, James Dooley and many more have him to credit for their opportunities in this industry. Buck Sanders is to Marco Beltrami as Lorne Balfe is to Hans Zimmer right now. He started doing additional music and producing for Beltrami and now he has an Oscar nomination to his name.

The score itself is a hard stand alone listen. It’s mostly ambience with a slight identifiable structure. The two incorporate synths and some ethnic instruments to create atmosphere and setting, but it’s really hard to get attached to this score without seeing the film. The main theme carries this score. It’s incredibly dreary and pessimistic. It’s most notable in the track “The Way I Am”. That track embodies what I love about the score in that it is incredibly personal towards the characters. This isn’t a “war score” or an “action score”. It’s a nerve wracking journey that speaks uneasiness. The track “There Will Be Bombs” is an homage to Jonny Greenwood’s score to There Will Be Blood. Those who have seen the movie or know the score will get the sound similarities.

All in all if you told me that this score was composed by the same duo who did Max Payne then I probably wouldn’t believe you. However, that is the truth and while the score has a tough time standing on its own it is incredibly effective for the film it was composed for.

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