Sunday, March 28, 2010

Green Zone by John Powell (Review)

Green Zone reunites John Powell with director Paul Greengrass on their fourth collaboration together. Before this Powell composed The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Ultimatum and United 93 for Greengrass. Green Zone is an action thriller based off the United States’ involvement in the Middle East. This is an action score and it’s nothing more than that. To be honest I think John Powell could have composed this score in sleep, but that’s not a negative comment.

Powell is known mainly known for his intense trademark percussions. They find a way into pretty much every score he composes and are more prominent in his action scores. Here they work especially well because they create a constant rhythm for the action and if you know Paul Greengrass you know you’re going to get handheld cameras and fast paced editing. The same way that Harry Gregson-Williams is a perfect fit for Tony Scott is also why John Powell is a perfect fit for Paul Greengrass.

The one thing I’m glad to have found here is that Powell didn’t go the full Hans Zimmer route which has been pretty standard in films dealing with modern warfare. Ever since Black Hawk Down every modern warfare score has been a rock infused ethnic wonderland. While I love that genre defining sound I found it refreshing that Powell kept things to his creative palette and worked with his own sound. Though there are a few ethnic strings thrown into the mix, which is excellent because it establishes setting and atmosphere.

One thing I’ve read in other reviews and heard from other people is that they don’t like the score because there is no thematic material. While I’m a huge fan of using themes to make a score stand on its own I honestly feel that in this case it wasn’t necessary. Our main character isn’t a super hero or an action hero like say Jason Bourne. Powell did compose a theme for that character. This is a film fully propelled by the plot and if you see the film you’ll probably agree that we really don’t get to know our characters as people. Freddy is maybe the only character where we can connect with as an audience and Powell does hit us with some emotional strings for his character in the track “WTF”, but for the rest of the film we’re on an adrenaline rush.

Powell’s score for Green Zone is superb action scoring and nothing more. It won’t wow you but it’s highly effective and does wonders for the film. Looking at it from a stylistic point of view one can admire Powell’s techniques and compare them to his other action scores. When listening to it you’ll have a hard time discerning different tracks from one another because yes they do all sound similar with no unique arrangements to give them any sort of identity. So approach this one as a full on listening experience and just go from start to finish to really enjoy how effective this score truly is.

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