Thursday, July 19, 2018

Spotlight On....Mission: Impossible

The newest Spotlight On is all about the Mission: Impossible film franchise.
In honor of the newest release, we're looking back score by score in the series.  Even with several composers over the years, each film incorporates the classic Lalo Schifrin television theme.  Read on...this message will self-destruct in five seconds.

Mission: Impossible (1996)
Music by Danny Elfman
Elfman entered scoring this blockbuster late into the game.  Elfman generally keeps the spy atmosphere with some fantastically quiet and suspenseful underscore.  It feels a bit out of Elfman's comfort zone, and doesn't immediately hook you in.  The Shifrin quotes are kept to a minimum and don't interfere with most of the score.   The final action track is the best in the score.  (Just listen to: Looking for "Job", Betrayal, The Heist, Zoom B) 

Mission: Impossible 2 (2000)
Music by Hans Zimmer
Both the film and score go bolder in this sequel.  Electric guitars and drum set bring the rock feel to the forefront, while Spanish-style guitar and vocal solos are also added in.  The bigger action scenes are underscored with some distorted guitar and techno-lite music.  Easily the weakest film in the series, the score doesn't offer much to standout from Zimmer's other 2000 works.  (Just listen to: Nyah, Injection, Bare Island, Mission: Accomplished)

Mission: Impossible III (2006)
Music by Michael Giacchino
After crafting the spy antics on television's Alias, Giacchino joined director JJ Abrams to the next big screen followup.  Giacchino shows off the orchestra in neverending action cues and creates tension with driving ostinatos.  New motifs and themes are added, as well as more Schifrin references.  The quieter moments for his love theme are also delightful.  (Just listen to: Helluvacopter Chase, Humpty Dumpty Sat on a Wall, Reparations)

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011)
Music by Michael Giacchino
Continuing where he left off, Giacchino continues more variations on Schifrin's original tunes and style.  The score incorporates the various globe trotting with heavy Russian and Indian sections.  Giacchino returns to motifs from the previous film, but the newer material doesn't leave a big impact.  The suspenseful underscore works great in the hair-raising Dubai climb sequence.  (Just listen to: Light the Fuse, Kremlin with Anticipation, A Man, A Plan, A Code, Dubai, Love the Glove, Putting the Miss in Mission)

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation (2015)
Music by Joe Kraemer
Making his splash into the franchise, Kraemer goes back to the Schifrin roots and creates most of the score by breaking apart and reconstructing familiar aspects.  Going back to the spy sound, the score is present without being too in-your-face.  Everything seems fresh - a modern action score without sounding like a modern action score.  Kraemer writes great material for the orchestra with new themes being some of the highlights.  (Just listen to: The A400, The Plan, Morocco Pursuit, Meet the IMF)

Mission: Impossible - Fallout (2018)
Music by Lorne Balfe
Keeping directors for the first time, we get a change of composer with Lorne Balfe.  Known for his co-composing with Hans Zimmer, he brings a similar sound to the endlessly repetitive action cues.  Many cues end up feeling like they got away from a Christopher Nolan film.  While he adds more percussion, electronics and choir to Schifrin's melodies, Balfe's score doesn't have much of its own identity and doesn't go very far beyond the stunts it's accompanying.  (Just listen to: Change of Plan, Stairs and Rooftops, Escape Through Paris)  



Check out the others in the SPOTLIGHT ON.... series!

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