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Faster by Clint Mansell


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Faster (Soundtrack) by Clint Mansell

Composed by Clint Mansell
Walt Disney Records (2010)

Rating: 5/10

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“FASTER is, unfortunately, a harsh lesson in never judging a book by its cover. Never does it approach the nature of its title and is ultimately severely lacking in ambition.”

The Faster, the Better?
Review by Richard Buxton

Clint Mansell has built an impressive and wide-ranging filmography in his twelve years in the industry. From being Aronofsky’s go-to-composer to scoring the likes of SAHARA and DOOM, no matter what shortcomings he might have, he has always shown diversity. Despite such a range of projects, Mansell has gained recognition through individual tracks from two or three films, though it is the track “Lux Aeterna” from REQUIEM FOR A DREAM that stands out from the rest as being the piece that gave the world its first glimpse of his talents. The standout piece of the REQUIEM FOR A DREAM score was re-recorded by Corner Stone Cues for use as trailer music. Since then a number of Mansell’s compositions have been utilised in motion picture advertising such as “Together With Live Forever” from THE FOUNTAIN and the sublime “Dead Reckoning” from SMOKIN’ ACES. With Mansell’s clear ability to compose powerful and memorable self-contained pieces it is perhaps easy to forget that he regularly produces solid entire scores that do justice to the film they compliment

So, it comes as no surprise that Mansell has been employed as the composer to FASTER, the latest film to star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. FASTER is a film of the revenge variety, in which previously incarcerated Driver (Johnson) sets out on a mission to avenge the death of his brother. While Mansell’s diverse background in scoring results no surprise in his appointment, the same cannot be said of the director George Tillman Jr. who has been at the helm of films such as NOTORIOUS, MEN OF HONOR and SOUL FOOD. Therefore, directing an action-revenge film comes as somewhat of a surprise.
When reviewing any score, one will always have a preconceived notion of how it will sound based on the synopsis and/or the various trailers that have been released. FASTER is one film that completely defies these notions, and does so in an often unfavourable way. For a film that is billed as a thrilling action, Mansell’s score for FASTER contains very little that thrusts upon the listener.
The score begins with “Ten year Stretch”, a largely ambient piece that eventually culminates in the rising three note main theme of FASTER. The blending of the strings, electric guitar and the wailing and echoing guitar create a strong texture, but hardly manage to get the blood pumping. Mansell's intention attempt to rectify this can clearly be heard in the subsequent track “History Lesson”. Beginning with a suspenseful combination of strings and bass guitar, “History Lesson” quickly becomes a percussion-dominated piece of relentless pace but very little substance. The percussion patterns create a strong rhythm, but for all its rhythmic proficiency, it lacks any compelling structure and texture. What is most disappointing about “History Lesson” is the fact that it stands as one of the few tracks that attempts to live up to the name of the film but ultimately fails. It is in the quieter and more subdued moments that Faster reaches its heights.
“Predators & Prey” is one of these moments. Strongly evocative of Mansell’s powerful and climactic piece for SMOKIN’ ACES, “Dead Reckoning”, the repeating string pattern in “Predators & Prey” creates ample suspense and momentum before the eventual release. This release paves the way for “Lost Lives”, a largely subdued track that ends with a reprise of the string pattern heard in “Predators & Prey. This tension-building exercise is continued in “Hospital Visit” to good effect. Comparing these three tracks to the opening tracks is difficult in that they are all largely made up of repetitive ideas, but differ drastically in effectiveness. The latter tracks make much more of this repetition using it to create a sense of momentum and real expectation, whereas the previous tracks become grating and often dull.
After reaching the peak of the score, Mansell revisits the action side of the score with “The Driver Drives”. Once again the percussion is prevalent along with grating guitars before a return of the three note main theme. The transition from the screeching guitars and pounding percussion to the main theme is jarring and ultimately imbalanced among the rest of the track. This lack of subtlety and cohesiveness is a criticism that can be leveled at the score as a whole.
As the score reaches its final cues, it closes with more of a whimper than a bang as the same, now tired, ideas come to the fore. The final piece does have an interesting complexion of optimistic climax with an underlying texture of despair. However it is too little too late in the grand scheme of the score.  Aside from the score pieces are six licensed tracks, that work well alongside the score, among them an atmospheric acapella, “John The Revelator”.  FASTER is, unfortunately, a harsh lesson in never judging a book by its cover. Never does it approach the nature of its title and is ultimately severely lacking in ambition.

Rating: 5/10




Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Goodbye My Friend 4:03  **
2 I Wanna Be Your Dog 4:06  **
3 Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition was In) 3:19  ***
4 Short Change Hero 5:21  ***
5 Grifos Muertos 3:00  *
6 John Revelator 0:54  ***
7 Ten Year Stretch 1:49  **
8 History Lesson 3:04  **
9 Predators and Prey 7:02  ***
10 Lost Lives 1:53  ***
11 Lovers 2:51  *
12 Hospital Visit 4:35  ***
13 The Driver Drives 4:27  **
14 Family Matters 2:37  **
15 On a Mission 3:38  **
16 Redemption 1:34  ***
  Total Running Time (approx) 54 minutes  




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