Generally, there are two types of film soundtracks: the ones which group a bunch of bands together-sometimes sharing a common stylistic bond, sometimes scattered willy-nilly with no rhyme or reason-and the kind which feature a composed score.
While there have been some quality examples of soundtracks which take from both ends of this spectrum-Quentin Tarantino’s films utilize this method particularly well, laying down some Ennio Morricone right alongside old school doo-wop, Motown and jazz-the general rule for going out on this limb inevitably proves to be flat-out failure.
Of course, we’re not dealing with any normal, everyday sort of composer here with the soundtrack to George Tillman Jr.’s action/thriller Faster. No, Clint Mansell has a proven track record for delivering the evocative, atmospheric goods when it comes to film scores, having composed some fairly incredible work for director Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem For a Dream and Pi as well as the Golden Globe nominated score for The Fountain.
Faster is vintage Mansell, taking the musical knowledge gained from the composer’s time spent as vocalist and guitarist for the British band Pop Will Eat Itself and adapting it to create this inimitable sense of cool. The decision of Mansell to reserve his own compositions for the score’s latter half is a gamble, but one which ultimately succeeds in spades, working on every level in terms of pacing and mood.
The choices of The Stooges (“Now I Wanna Be Your Dog”), Kenny Rogers (“Just Dropped In”) and The Heavy (“Short Change Hero”) are practically perfect in their ability to set this edge-of-your-seat, action-packed sense of hip-ness, while the more atmospheric mood set by Guido and Maurizio de Angelis’ “Goodbye My Friend” is the best possible, seat-filling choice for an opener.
Elsewhere, Jeffrey Luck Lucas’ instrumental “Grifos Muertos” and Lost’s Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s “John the Revelator” anchor this score’s opening salvo perfectly, lurching neatly into Mansell’s own dark compositions. It’s here where the real meat of the Faster score begins, and the tension reaches a fever pitch. Cues such as “Hospital Visit,” “History Lesson” and “Ten Year Stretch” stand up easily to anything Mansell’s done in the past, and do exactly what a good soundtrack is supposed to do: make the audience want to see the damn movie!
Relying heavily on shadowy electronic melody and pounding percussive elements, Clint Mansell proves once again how he is a true visionary of the artform, all the while upping the ante for anyone else daring enough to so exquisitely combine artist material and original compositions in a score.