Quick Review: No Time to Die

No Time to Die
Music composed by Hans Zimmer
Score produced by Steve Mazzaro
Additional music by Steve Mazzaro
Orchestrated by Oscar Senen, Joan Martorell, Vincente Ortiz Gimeno, Pedro Osuna, Rob Westwood
Orchestra and choir conducted by Matt Dunkley
Score recorded at Air Lyndhurst, British Grove Studios, The Bunker
Album running time: 71 minutes
Available on Decca

Daniel Craig's run of Bond has had scores by David Arnold, Thomas Newman and now Hans Zimmer joins the list. Of course it sounds like what you'd expect from a recent Zimmer effort, it also contains nods to past Bond scores and several interpolations of Billie Eilish's title song.

I guess the use of certain themes is spoiler territory - so read with caution.

The album begins with the Gun Barrel sequence.  Like many Bond films, we hear the strings introducing the vamp before the brass come in with the pretty standard gun barrel rendition.  We get one classic sounding Bond guitar chord as the film starts (Johnny Marr on guitar).  Matera starts off with some lush, romantic strings leading an instrumental return of "We Have All the Time in the World" from On Her Majesty's Secret Service (John Barry, 1969).  It's unique to have such a direct lift from another composer's Bond score, and this one is linked into the story.  

Message From An Old Friend begins with some atmospheric and orchestral sound design.  This leads to brass using fragments of the Bond vamp and theme on electric guitar.  We get brass blasts among the percussion and driving strings that help highlight Bond's action motif for the film.  Square Escape uses a beefy version of the Bond theme and the elements turn into a churning ostinato.  It also features a sorrowful cello feature which comes back later in the score.    

Someone Was Here features more dissonant sound design.  We hear elements of the Bond theme, and some exotic woodwind solos building the suspense with a few hints of traditional Bond brass.  Not What I Expected has more exotic woodwinds and hints of acoustic guitar under ambient strings and synths.  What Have You Done? has a more sinister sound with low male voices.  The Bond theme grows with some featured guitar.  

Seductive woodwinds are featured again in Shouldn't We Get To Know Each Other First until Bond's vamp comes in.  Cuba Chase begins with some creepy, dissonant writing before the action kicks off again.  One of the most fun cues in the score, we get the driving rhythms of an action cue overlaid with Cuban percussion, guitar and some flashy Arturo Sandoval trumpet solos.  The beefy Bond theme returns with added electronic buzz.

Back to MI6 brings a strong Bond theme reprise, and in Good to Have You Back, as Bond returns to service, we hear the a slowed version of the main theme from On Her Majesty's Secret Service - the second but not last John Barry quote from the film.  Lovely to See You Again brings a strong sound design, and piano intro of "No Time to Die".  The song is used the most in Home.  First we hear Bond's sorrowful cello theme, the song intro, the melody on piano/voice and eventually the melody on strings.  

Norway Chase starts off with some unsettling underscore, and charging rhythms kick in with choir chants and brass punctuations.  The Bond theme is given an interesting variation near the end.  Gearing Up begins with a guitar ostinato, which the strings take over and a section of the Bond theme.  Poison Garden brings the sinister vocals, eerie string harmonics, and a hypnotic motif that underscore much of Safin's creepy monologues.  The Factory brings in Bond's new action motif, and lots of effects to keep the tension - we hear the ticking and synth pulse with some low brass interruptions.  We also hear some clear examples of the Safin's sliding villain theme.

I'll Be Right Back continues the electric pulse, with a Batman Begins-esque string pattern added in.  The melody of "No Time to Die" comes in on strings and we continue with relentless low strings and low brass crescendos and bits of the Bond vamp.  Opening the Doors brings the beefy Bond theme variation and action motif among the brass growls building to a shrieking climax.  Final Ascent begins with a cello solo and transforms it into an lament.  It follows the form of Zimmer molds "Journey to the Line", "Time" and "Chevaliers de Sangreal" and uses the piano intro of "No Time to Die" and searing strings.  No doubt why they used this formula - it's quite effective in the film.  

The Billie Eilish title song, "No Time to Die" ends the album.  Obviously it is the credits song featured earlier in the film, but it wraps up the album nicely.  For those keeping track, the title song hasn't been featured on the album since Quantum of Solace (2008).    

Zimmer and Mazzaro really understood the task at hand.  First, they replaced composer Dan Romer who had previously worked with director Cary Joji Fukunaga.  I like how elements of the James Bond theme were integrated into the score (and just about every track on the album) even if some moments have the feeling of trailer music.  The villain material doesn't quite connect and isn't well represented on the album.  In the film, we get a handful of John Barry's On Her Majesty's Secret Service in score and song and David Arnold's Casino Royale theme for Vesper (not on album).  The new material sits clearly in Zimmer and Mazzaro's wheelhouse - the moody synths, ticking pulses, growling low brass, churning strings and the emotional finale.  Overall, the album seems to be a nice representation of the score.

Of course with a new Bond actor on the way, I'm interested to see what musical direction the films will go in next. 

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1 Comments

  1. I think "No Time to Die" is an awesome James Bond movie and the score is composed by the legendary German film composer Hans Zimmer, Ridley Scott's collaborator.

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