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Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (Patrick Doyle)

February 19, 2014

Cover_JackRyanJACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT

Patrick Doyle, 2014, Varese Sarabande
24 tracks, 73:12

Patrick Doyle has been very successful at adapting his music to current filmscoring trends, but how will he fare on the all-out modern thriller “Jack Ryan”?

Review by Pete Simons

What is it?

Character Jack Ryan returns to the big screen. In case you had forgotten, as I had, he’s lead guy from “Patriot Games”, “Clear and Present Danger” and “The Sum of All Fears”. The role was carried by Harrison Ford twice, before Ben Affleck had a go at it. Now it is Chris Pine’s turn. Looks like he’s gone from playing a young Captain Kirk to a young Jack Ryan. In “Shadow Recruit” he uncovers a Russian plot to crash the US economy. I have yet to see the film, but I assume he will also take measures to prevent this from happening. The film is, somewhat surprisingly, directed by Kenneth Branagh. One wouldn’t readily associate him with this type of film. Unsurprisingly then (but only in context of who’s directing it), the original score comes courtesy of Patrick Doyle. In recent years, through “Thor” and “Planet of the Apes”, Doyle has already proven he knows his way around the synthesizers; and he pushes his new-found style even further this time. Doyle provides a class-act though by no means ground-breaking thriller score.

What does it sound like?

“Flying Over Afghanistan” introduces the score’s noble main theme (or at least its chord set) from 1:08 onwards. The track is otherwise an atmospheric affair and of little interest, other than to set the tone for what’s to come. Due to the nature of the film, a great number of tracks are low-key (in melodic or harmonic terms) with electronic sounds and beats to  create a typical modern-day sound. “The United Nations”, “Aleksandr”, “Unravelling The Data”, “CIA Recruitment” are examples of cues that do little more than building atmosphere.

“Shadow Accounts” sees Doyle introducing a secondary theme. It’s a gentle one performed delicately on piano, amidst some typical techno-thriller drones. The piano theme returns in “The Activation” and “Picking This Life”.

“The Window Reflection” picks up the pace considerably and is one of a number of pulsating action cues. Through “Planet of the Apes” and “Thor” Patrick Doyle has proven to more than capable at writing exciting action music. Ostinato strings and electronic beats are the norm here. Many fans and professionals alike will say this style is really John Powell’s speciality. Well, Doyle manages to produce something just as good on “Jack Ryan”.  What makes Doyle’s thriller cues so engaging is that his approach is often melodic or at least harmonic. It’s what makes his music so human; and always has done. Other cues along these lines are “Rooftop Call”, “Cheverin Meets Ryan”, “Plan In A Van”, “The Engagement” (including another lovely piano performance), “Stealing The Data”, the excellent “Get Out”, “Moscow Car Chase”, “The Lightbulb”, “Chopper To NYC” and “Bike Chase”. You’ll notice that the vast majority of this album falls in this category of typical modern thriller music; albeit combined with Doyle’s sensibilities.

“Faith Of Our Fathers” is a remarkable cue! It contains a wonderful section performed solely by Russian choir; and it is book-ended by a magnificent melancholy theme for strings. “Second Great Depression” and “Jack And Aleksandr” sees the main theme making prominent appearances, orchestrated predominantly for strings whilst synths and beats are bubbling in the background. The theme gets its fullest and most satisfying performance in “Ryan, Mr. President”, which is easily the score’s highlight (along with “Picking This Life”) and is sure to become a fan-favorite. The album closes with the energetic “Shadow Recruit”, which sees Doyle going all-out on the techno elements; and successfully so! You’d expect this to be a remix by a professional ‘DJ’ but there is no sign of that in the credits.

Is it any good?

Your appreciation for this score will largely depend on your tolerance to Powell-esque, percussion-driven thriller scores. Whilst there are half-a-dozen or so quintessential Doyle cues to be found here, I’m not sure that would be enough to satisfy the purists. Personally I quite like the bubble and squeak noises the synthesizers provide; though with a running time of over 70 minutes “Jack Ryan” proves a little too much, even for me. Too  many cues sound too much alike, especially those in the middle section. There is a 4-star album in here, easily, but it gets lost amongst the abundance of suspense cues. More isn’t always better. Still, Doyle’s stylistics are irresistible. This is a great example of a composer adapting to modern cinema, without losing his own voice.

Rating [3.5/5]

Tracklisting

1. Flying Over Afghanistan (2:43)
2. The United Nations (2:42)
3. Shadow Accounts (2:54)
4. The Window Reflection (1:51)
5. Rooftop Call (1:52)
6. Second Great Depression (3:19)
7. Faith Of Our Fathers (4:00)
8. Cheverin Meets Ryan (2:11)
9. Plan In A Van (1:51)
10. The Activation (2:19)
11. Aleksandr (1:54)
12. The Engagement (2:24)
13. Stealing The Data (7:59)
14. Get Out (4:19)
15. Moscow Car Chase (4:15)
16. The Lightbulb (4:37)
17. Unravelling The Data (4:37)
18. CIA Recruitment (1:41)
19. Chopper To NYC (1:40)
20. Bike Chase (3:47)
21. Jack And Aleksandr (3:15)
22. Picking This Life (1:04)
23. Ryan, Mr. President (3:28)
24. Shadow Recruit (2:30)

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