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Captain Phillips by Henry Jackman

Captain Phillips

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Captain Phillips (Soundtrack) by Henry Jackman
Captain Phillips (Soundtrack) by Henry Jackman











Captain Phillips (Soundtrack) by Henry Jackman

Captain Phillips
Composed by Henry Jackman
Varese Sarabande (2013)

Rating: 6/10

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“If endless nail-biting is an attractive proposition then perhaps this is a score worth seeking out. For many however, JACKMAN’S score is one that will prove difficult to come to terms with.”

A Tension
Review by Richard Buxton


Released to rave reviews, CAPTAIN PHILLIPS is another feather in the cap of PAUL GREENGRASS, a master of the “based on true events” sector of Hollywood cinema, and yet another standout performance from the ever-reliable TOM HANKS. A potential hurdle for a suspenseful biopic thriller in the vein of CAPTAIN PHILLIPS is the fact that many audiences will go into theaters with prior knowledge of the outcome of the film’s real life inspiration. In the hands of lesser talents, this would lead to a film bereft of tension and suspense, but GREENGRASS has proven time and again that he is able to inject the silver screen with palpable anxiety, and he has clearly succeeded once more. With frequent collaborator JOHN POWELL on an extended break, GREENGRASS sought the talents of the rapidly rising HENRY JACKMAN. How does this new, but likely temporary, partnership fare in pirate-infested waters?

CAPTAIN PHILLIPS is not a particularly easy listen. It has all the elements you might expect from a film depicting maritime piracy in the predatory waves of the Indian Ocean - slow burning suspense, energetic percussion, and evocative ethnic instrumentation - but these elements combine to birth a score that is clearly better served when heard in context. There are cues in which very little happens at all, “USS Bainbridge” (8) and “Failed Attempt” (10), and others that are so brief that what does happen is given little to no chance to develop into something substantial, as in “Seals Inbound” (12).

When things do mercifully kick in to a higher gear, JACKMAN’S score is engaging enough to satisfy those with a thirst for intensity rather than a desire to hear any particularly noticeable thematic content. “This Is Not A Drill” (3), “Second Attack” (4), and “Two In The Water” (11) pile on the tension with a heavy emphasis on percussion, chopping repetitive strings, and interspersed ethnic instrumental cries, all combining to frequently echo the sentiments of HANS ZIMMER’S BLACK HAWK DOWN. GREENGRASS’ fondness for the work of JOHN POWELL is evident in these cues, as they could easily be mistaken for some of his more simplistic efforts in the BOURNE series, ULTIMATUM in particular. While these three tracks, with the addition of “High-Speed Maneuvers” (15), are relatively straightforward and derivative, they are in fact the undisputed highlights of the score.

What might have been a standout cue in CAPTAIN PHILLIPS, “Safe Now” (16), is drowned out by the obvious-to-anyone-that-hasn’t-been-living-under-a-CHRISTOPHER-NOLAN-shaped-rock INCEPTION influence. The cue, with its dull yet piercing piano strikes and descending strings, is far too reminiscent of ZIMMER’S finale piece “Time” to be a coincidence, and much of its poignancy is lost as a result.

For all of CAPTAIN PHILLIPS’ shortcomings - and many of these come as a result of what we, as an audience, have been conditioned to demand from major film’s scores - it’s a score that ably transports the listener to the heart of the film’s conflict. It is first and foremost an enhancing ingredient for GREENGRASS’ visuals, and in that respect it is a success. On disc however, CAPTAIN PHILLIPS is merely a serviceable score that ratchets up the tension with each passing second, consequently alienating many listeners as it does so. If endless nail-biting is an attractive proposition then perhaps this is a score worth seeking out. For many however, JACKMAN’S score is one that will prove difficult to come to terms with.

Rating: 6/10


Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Choose Your Crew 2:01  **
2 Maersk Alabama 2:43  ***
3 This Is Not A Drill 5:42  ****
4 Second Attack 3:54  ****
5 I'm The Captain Now 3:44  ***
6 Do We Have A Deal? 2:09  ***
7 Entering The Lifeboat 2:46  **
8 USS Bainbridge 2:08  **
9 End This Peacefully 2:44  **
10 Failed Attempt 0:57  **
11 Two In The Water 4:19  ****
12 Seals Inbound 0:24  **
13 Negotiation 1:23  ***
14 Initiate The Tow 2:18  ***
15 High-Speed Maneuvers 2:04  ****
16 Sale Now 3:13  ***
  Total Running Time (approx) 43 minutes  


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