As the liner notes by director Rod Lurie state, Jerry Goldsmith has written some great scores for military heroes, most notably Generals Patton and MacCarthur. It was with this in mind that he hired Goldsmith for The Last Castle and he seems fairly euphoric over what Goldsmith has written for his film. I suspect that most Goldsmith fans will be distinctly underwhelmed at most of the album.
The main theme has become semi (in)famous for its use as a memorial to the tragedy of September 11, 2001 and is marked as such on the track listing. Lurie says that it 'haunted' him and made him cry. It's certainly a tragic and noble melody on solo trumpet (performed by the ever brilliant Malcolm McNab), then strings that does indeed offer a sobering musical memorial to the event as well as the film. However, in the pantheon of Goldsmith themes, it is a very minor entry and certainly not one that would have been particularly remembered under any other circumstance. The rest of the score quotes parts of the main theme, but is mainly a succession of snare drums, terse string chords and dour brass lines. I hate to say it, but it's the kind of score that gives the distinct impression that it really could have been written by anyone.
Military Justice offers a lift with major key horn chords that offer a little break in the overall bleakness. The Count Down returns to the more tense material, albeit a little more action orientated with pounding percussion that is a definite highlight if only because it offers a good change of pace. A minor improvement on Along Came a Spider from earlier in the year, but still not a hugely inspiring effort. The muted colours of the still shots from the film are well matched by Goldsmith's muted musical textures and it is certainly not lacking in atmosphere or solemnity. However, as an album experience it's a distinctly unexciting experience.