It's been a stylistically diverse year for James Horner so far, with a swashbuckling, adventurous score for The Legend of Zorro, a quirky, low-key score for the indie film The Chumscrubber - and a dark, brooding score for the Jodie Foster film Flightplan. Directed by Robert Scwhentke, the film has been described as a typical Hitchcockian thriller and Horner's score certainly does a lot for the atmosphere of the movie.
Composed for an orchestral ensemble consisting of strings, woodwinds, percussion, harp and five pianos - and no brass - the score has its fair share of suspense and action, opening with the lengthy "Leaving Berlin", which introduces the listener to some of the score's building blocks; a simple, repetetive (in the best sense of the word) melody carried by piano and woodwinds, low string ostinatos and ticking percussion. The music may seem pretty uninteresting at first, since so much of it focuses on pure suspense and uneasy underscore, but after a few listens one starts to discover, and appreciate, how truly inventive and experimental parts of this score really are.
While the two first cues are dominated by the low, brooding strings, slow woodwinds and the ever present ticking percussion, the ten minute long "The Search" introduces us to Tony Hinnigan's rythmic pan flute, as well as plenty of tremolo strings, snare drum and piano. "Creating Panic" offers some dissonant strings, syncopated percussion hits and crashing piano, and what sounds like the string players tapping their bows on the music stands.
Rather emotionally restrained, cold and calculated, the listener is only offered small glimpse of hope throughout the majority of the score - mostly tied together with appearances of the score's main theme - but finally, towards the end of the score, Horner finally allows the music to reach a satisfying conclusion, with a lush and triumphant statement of the main theme, performed by strings in "Mother and Child".
Flightplan is a dark score, with a musical language dominated by coldness and restraint, something achieved with the sound of repeated piano figures, subtle percussion and low strings. Compared to other Horner scores, similiarities can be found in scores like The Pelican Brief, The Forgotten, Sneakers, Ransom and Apollo 13.
Read other recent reviews by Andreas Lindahl: The Rocketeer
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, The Phantom of the Opera