In the world today, there is little distinction to be made between television and the cinema. Gone are the days when starring in a TV series was a black mark next to the name of an actor. Gone are the tinny filming conditions, the overworked plots and the distinct lack of carelessness. We are living in the midst of a television renaissance; you need only turn on your television screen to find proof of this. Television is giving cinema a run for its money and the film, once so mighty and dominant, has been left quaking in its boots. It is inevitable, then, that cinema should look to television for ideas and following a long line of cinematic adaptations, TV show The Equalizer is the latest to follow suit. Starring Denzel Washington as ex-special ops Robert McCall, the film follows his plight to save a young girl from the grasp of Russian mobsters. Following a brief and rather unpleasant brush with the gangsters, McCall vows to take them and their partners down, one by one.
British composer Harry Gregson-Williams is the music behind the film. Sometime-Disney composer, sometime-thriller musician, Gregson-Williams has a rich and varied back catalogue, spring-boarding his talent from the likes of The Chronicles of Narnia series, Prometheus and The Town. One dimensional he isn’t. The Equalizer sees Gregson-Williams returning to the high-stakes thriller mode, a musical style in which he has bags of experience.
From the opening cue, it’s clear that we’re in safe hands. Gregson-Williams is not one for overwrought, overloaded musical pieces; his compositional style is largely understated, gentle and poignant. Whilst the pieces can sometimes sound as if they may take themselves a little too seriously, there’s no doubting Gregson-Williams heart has gone completely into every cue. Sweeping strings and delicate piano melodies punctuate cue ‘Change Your World’ and whilst there is little sense of the thriller genre about the music, there’s so much more going on in the piece that it is of little consequence. Whilst melodically coherent, the cue moves and develops just enough to hold your interest, the changes in the string melody particularly strong, moving like waves beneath the piano.
Things soon return to familiar fare, however, as Gregson-Williams turns up the tension in his scoring. Cue ‘On A Mission’ is very much created after its name-sake, balancing distorted guitar riffs and driving rhythmic pulses which are featured intermittently throughout the track. Whilst Gregson-Williams’s musical choices in the track are nothing particularly new, they certainly work well as accompaniment to the film, ramping up the tension just enough to leave you wanting more.
On the whole, Gregson-Williams’s work is effective. Whilst he does pile it on a little thick in some cues, such as the lengthy and over-dramatic ‘It’s All a Lie’, Gregson-Williams can be forgiven. Although pieces such as this are a little much to listen to on their own, in combination with the tense energy of the film, they are entirely appropriate. Although Gregson-Williams’s composition is not ground-breaking in tone or melody, it never sounds out of place within the thriller genre. What’s more, his sense of balance is always precisely tuned; even in moments turned up to 11, the music never goes beyond what it aims to. Moments of over-blown tension are always neatly contained by quieter electronic drones, mopping up the loose sounds which sometimes escape from melodies. Gregson-Williams has created a neat, effective and interesting score. Whilst it may lack the punch of other thriller compositions, it certainly can hold its own when it comes to heart.
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