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Looper by Nathan Johnson (Review)

posted Oct 3, 2012, 10:00 PM by Kaya Savas

When Rian Johnson made his feature debut with Brick he brought along his cousin to write the score. That family partnership continued on The Brothers Bloom and now on Looper. Nathan Johnson has very quickly established an identity for himself in the 5 features he has composed (3 of them directed by his cousin). Looper puts him to the test with a science fiction thriller, and those score are always tricky. However, Johnson nails it with this textured, percussive, and intriguing score. The entire sound has a sense of intrigue and mystery infused in the energy, which is never over the top or loud. It's definitely a lean and solid score.

The score doesn't have any excess to it, and by that I mean that it really is stripped down to a few distinct elements. The percussion is the most notable characteristic of the music. This is backed with pulsating strings that drive most of the score. The score isn't all propulsive action though, and much of it in the second half is quite brooding. There is bubbling tension throughout and the music really grows on you as you listen. The intricate textures are always there, but Johnson pulls them back on some tracks to let the strings stew for a bit. The one thing that is missing from the score is emotional depth. I know this is more of a conceptual film than a contextual one, but I felt like there wasn't enough character in the music. The track "Her Face" does a nice job of teasing us with a touching motif, but it quickly fades away and we're back to tick-tacks and strings. The ending is very nice though as everything comes full circle and is wrapped up superbly.

There is some emotion in the music, but not enough for me to really grasp onto this score. It was very enjoyable and a nice entry from Johnson, but it comes at face value. For the narrative the score works terrifically and you're there for every beat in the story. Long tracks allow the music to flow and build nice arcs. It's definitely worth a listen, but it won't stick with you very long.