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Criminal by Brian Tyler & Keith Power (Review)

posted Apr 18, 2016, 5:00 PM by Kaya Savas

Criminal is a new thriller from director Ariel Vroman whose last feature was The Iceman starring Michael Shannon. Criminal boasts a great cast as well as great talent behind the camera, but it ends up falling flat in a genre twist of generic thriller and science fiction. The plot of a criminal mastermind who is injected with the memories of a CIA operative killed in action to help stop a threat is farfetched for sure, but hey John Woo made “farfetched” work in Face/Off. Brian Tyler teams with his longtime collaborator Keith Power for a synth score that does deliver the goods though, it really is a great synthetic soundscape to get lost in.

Brian Tyler is a huge fan of Vangelis and he is also a great fan of M83. You can definitely hear the influences in the music in the best way possible. Recently Brian has been venturing into he EDM (electronic dance music) world under his alternate artist name, Madsonik. All these ingredients come together for the score to Criminal, which is a fantastic thriller score merged with an electronic sci-fi soundscape. Think of Blade Runner merged with Oblivion, but thankfully the score does have a voice of its own. Tyler and Power design an intricate structure for the plot that captivates and pulls you in. Usually when composers use EDM elements like “dubstep” in scores they forget to shape the music into a score, so all it sounds like is some track placed in. This is not the case. Tyler and Power break down elements of electronic dance music that you wouldn’t normally hear in a score and use them as heavy dramatic storytelling elements. The use of electronics here hammers down some intense moments and heightens the tension. The more airy synth sounds add to the sci-fi feel and definitely call back to Blade Runner. The score ends somewhat anticlimactically given the energy and momentum leading to it, but even with no big climax this is still a great effort.

Brian Tyler and Keith Power took many synthetic elements from both the world of scoring and electronic dance music, and combined them to make a sci-fi thriller score that feels of our time. With flavors of Vangelis and M83, the score totally works as an action thriller. It’s structured to really pull you in and add dramatic weight. I found the loops and rhythms to have some interesting dramatic effects, and it all has a great momentum up till the end where it seems to fall flat. The score is definitely worth exploring because it brings some raw energy and a different sound from Brian Tyler and Keith Power. I hope Brian tries more of this merging of two different sonic worlds in the future, because up till this point I always found EDM techniques distracting in film scoring.