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Mission: Impossible- Rogue Nation by Joe Kraemer (Review)

posted Jul 24, 2015, 2:40 PM by Kaya Savas

Mission: Impossible is one of those cultural icons that almost anyone anywhere could probably hum you the theme. It’s as iconic as the James Bond theme, and Lalo Schifrin composed one of the most perfect thematic punchlines for espionage thrills with it. Rogue Nation is the fifth installment in the franchise, and Joe Kraemer becomes the fourth composer to try his hand at making a feature length Mission: Impossible score. What I find so interesting is that each of the composers before him gave us such unique scores all awesome in their own unique ways. But they all did the same thing. They treated that iconic theme as if it were a delicate treasure not to be tampered with. What Kraemer has done is a bit different, but the result is a nearly perfect orchestral action score experience that is as pure Mission: Impossible as you can get.

There is this issue when it comes to iconic movie themes. Usually the original composer of the iconic theme is no longer involved as the franchise grows and evolves, yet that theme is so associated with the franchise that composers stepping in for their turn end up usually doing the same thing. This year was a perfect example of that with scores like Jurassic World, Terminator: Genisys and now this. Composers usually will save the original theme for those “trailer moments”. You know, the shots that act as punchlines. When Arnold emerges and says a very Terminator type line or when that helicopter flies towards the island in Jurassic World. In any instance, it’s a copy/paste job. The theme is the theme, in its original form, untouched and there to remind you that it is all powerful and we should bow before it. But you know what? Joe said, “screw that!”. Well, not really, but who knows. Anyway, he decided to take that Mission: Impossible theme, smash it to pieces and rework that bad boy into the DNA of his score. The result? Phenominal.

The score is pure Kraemer in style, in fact many times it reminded me of his Jack Reacher score based on how he approaches certain builds and action arcs. It just goes to show what a great creative environment he gets to work in as his collaboration with Christopher McQuarrie continues. And it speaks to his immense talent. The score is everything you’d want in an orchestral espionage thrill ride. But, if you listen to the score carefully, you will notice how integral that Mission: Impossible theme is to it. I loved hearing the theme slowed down, broken apart, with slightly different structure, worked into the action and much more. If there is a way to break it apart and do a variation, then Joe was able to do it. He even reprises the other most recognizeable motif from the TV Show, “The Plot”. Giacchino used it in his MI:III score and it also appeared in the Mission: Impossible video game for N64.

The score as a propulsive action narrative is just fantastic as well. The flow is on point, and the score is constantly working. I mean, the album here is a meaty 1hr14min with plenty of long tracks. With the IMF being hunted and on the run instead of doing the chasing, the score does have this globetrotting espionage feel. Kraemer uses little ethnic textures without ever being too heavy-handed. The track “Havana To Vienna” is a wonderful example of how he used ethnic touches to actually make a physical journey through the music. As the score plays, we are treated to some bold and always melodically driven action as well as suspenseful builds that require a subtler approach. By the time we get to the finale, we’re already eager to get back in line to ride again.

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation is a perfect example of how to approach a score to a franchise where the use of an iconic theme is necessary and expected. Just like a James Bond movie has to use the iconic theme, Mission: Impossible films will always have to use that theme. Joe Kraemer embraces it head on, and crafts a score full of energy and orchestral thrills. The score pulls you into the action narrative to excite you, as well as puts a big smile on your face during those “impossible” moments. I don’t think you can ask for anything more in a Mission: Impossible score? I’d go as far as to say it’s the best one in the franchise so far. And how often can you say that about a franchise in its fifth entry? It’s a perfect Mission: Impossible score, and a perfect Joe Kraemer score. DUN, DUN, DUN-DUN, DUN, DUN, DUN-DUN, DUN

This midsummer treat will be available to order on July 28th at lalalandrecords.com, where if you're early to order, you can nab a signed copy!