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The Foreigner by Cliff Martinez (Review)

posted Dec 5, 2017, 3:26 PM by Kaya Savas

Cliff Martinez is a master of electronic soundscapes and usually takes a much more atmospheric and tonal approach. For The Foreigner we actually get a score that feels much more tactile and textural. The end result is very engaging thriller score that sustains a level of restrained intensity throughout this story of revenge.

The Foreigner reminded me a lot of Harry Gregson-Williams’ Man On Fire, probably because both scores were for a revenge story. The Foreigner has a lot of that electronic textural building that Harry similarly used, but minus any real instruments. This score is fully electronic and is void of any sentimentality either. That’s also one of the drawbacks. There really isn’t an emotional connection to Jackie Chan’s character, it’s just a revenge story. But the score does a great job of playing that revenge story out. Not only is the music engaging, but it adds a layer of brooding intensity without ever making the boiling water spill over the edge of the pot. There is some cool crafting in tracks that build tension through texture and rhythms.

While Cliff Martinez has sole credit, he is helped with additional music from Gregory Tripi and Thor Laewe. You can tell that this feels more like a team effort more than a Martinez solo effort, and the end result feels like a true synthesis of styles. The Foreigner never strays from its goal to provide a score that keeps the intensity and grit going.

The score for The Foreigner is a supremely entertaining and effective narrative. The score’s electronic approach is perfect for the story even though it lacks any kind of emotional resonance. We don’t feel much sadness or loss for Jackie Chan’s character, but rather just a very focused beam of intensity to exact revenge. And that’s totally fine given the film’s plot. The score does a really great job of letting this story of revenge play out and gives us a rather cool electronic narrative to accompany the image.