xXx: Return Of Xander Cage sees Brian Tyler reunite with director D. J. Caruso, having previously worked together on last year's The Disappointments Room. Tyler's long time collaborator Robert Lydecker has been given co-composing credit this time around, yet there's no way for me to tell who did what. And considering it's all one score, that's generally a good thing. The film is a collection of mindless, over the top action scenes and boring expositional dialogue, yet while the film's plot is about as dull as it can get, the action scenes did manage to entertain me enough to justify the cinema visit. Part of that is due to the entertaining action score.
The film seems to have been made to look as 'cool' as humanly possible, so Tyler utilizing his EDM alter ego for two original Madsonik songs (including the spectacular "Divebomb") makes perfect sense here. The inclusion of electronics into the score was practically guaranteed, yet you might be surprised by the amount of orchestral music in the score. The score opens with its main theme that does a nice job at setting the stage for the action that follows. While the theme does contain orchestral stylings, its core is made from electronic textures. Surprisingly enough, the film actually opens with a main title sequence, forcing unsuspecting cinemagoers to listen to the main theme in all its glory.
The very nature of the film leaves hardly any room for emotional music or even musical storytelling, so the vast majority of the score consists of varying forms of loud action. The score is loud and intense, even rivalling some of Tyler's work on the Fast And Furious series, and the main theme is used effectively throughout. The balance between electronics and orchestral music is handled perfectly, delivering a lot of fun moments. The action music works well as driving force behind the onscreen mayhem and never really repeats itself throughout the film. The electronics do their part of sounding 'cool' while the orchestral parts propel the action music. The music is covered in Tyler's handwriting throughout, yet also manages to bring something new to the table. While there really isn't a whole lot of emotional depth or musical storytelling to be found, Tyler and Lydecker managed to create an engaging and entertaining action score that greatly enhances the somewhat silly action scenes.
xXx: Return Of Xander Cage by far isn't a great film, but if you don't expect much, it might still be somewhat entertaining. What the film lacks in character development it makes up for in action. Brian Tyler and Robert Lydecker deliver an almost non-stop action score perfectly fitting the film's insane stunts. While it's not a masterpiece of musical storytelling, the relentless action should delight any Tyler fan out there.
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