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Captain Phillips by Henry Jackman (Review)

posted Sep 30, 2013, 4:20 PM by Kaya Savas

Ever since Paul Greengrass took over the Bourne franchise he quickly became one of the industry’s most respected and notable auteurs. When he inhertited the Bourne franchise from Doug Liman he also inherited composer John Powell. Powell wen’t on to compose four consecutive films for Greengrass. The collaboration ended when Powell decided to take a hiatus from composing or a “semi-retirement” as he called it. The reason, simply to spend time with his family and children. The super versatile Henry Jackman filled the void here and stepped in to compose Captain Phillips. The result is a more than satisfactory tension building score.

If you know Greengrass then you know he pushed Powell to do lots of percussion. That doesn’t change here as the score is full of lots of percussion. The musical stylings are of course accented with ethnic sounds and instruments to accompany the Somali pirates. The score does an excellent job of pushing and pulling. It can push the tempo and then pull it back down at the drop of a dime. It’s a lean and simple score with a very basic structure. If there were any shortcomings it's that the score is purely meant to provide tension and nothing really else. There aren’t any deep emotional touches till the final track. And unfortunately that last track is a blatant mockup of “Time” from Inception. To be fairly honest, a lot of the tracks here feel very reminscient of Zimmer’s structures and style. I’ve grown to love Henry’s voice and while you do hear his pure unfiltered style now and then, it’s mostly muddled in dipping into what’s done before. Captain Phillips’ score can very easily be described as Black Hawk Down meets United 93, which says how very basic its sonic identity is. A lot of the percussion here has that Modern Warfare 2 sound that Lorne Balfe and Hans Zimmer used for that score. Now, don’t get me wrong here. Captain Phillips is a very adequate score. I enjoyed the entire experience and it’s intended effect is successful. 

This Henry Jackman score feels a bit void of what we’re used to from him. Maybe Greengrass wanted him to stick to Powell’s or Zimmer’s stylings, but then again who knows? Even though the score has a familiar genre feel it still gets the job done. The track structures and textures all lend themselves to some great dramatic builds. There just seems to be some heart missing from this one. You will find the way it plays out as a very "to the point" journey, but it never strays away from the expected.