|7.||Hog Chase Part 1||3:13|
|8.||Hog Chase Part 2||4:04|
|9.||I Don’t Remember||1:28|
| ||48:06| Submit your review
It's something of a surprise that the short stories of Philip K Dick haven't inspired more films as they provide some superb high concepts, without the length and depth that makes adapting longer books problematic due to the time constraints of motion pictures. High points in Dick adaptations were reached with Ridley Scott's Blade Runner and Steven Spielberg's Minority Report. Unfortunately, John Woo turns the initial premise - a technical wizard (Ben Affleck - even more implausible than Joey Tribbiani as a brain surgeon) copies and improves the designs of potentially world changing gadgets before having part of his memory erased to protect the secrets - into a pretty routine chase movie filled with dumber than thou characters. It bears comparison with The Bourne Identity starring Affleck's chum, Matt Damon, however, Damon fits into the action hero groove much more convincingly and was helped by a far stronger plot.
A more pertinent comparison is that both films receive scores by John Powell whose career remains a touch hit and miss, but in a reversal of fortune, his score for Paycheck is actually far more interesting than that he penned for The Bourne Identity. That Paycheck has a stronger focus on the orchestra is an immense help, but it's also more varied and memorable. The Main Title, for some reason, made me think of an update on Bernard Herrmann, crossed with Goldsmith's wonderful Hollow Man titles music, all shot through with some very contemporary synthetic percussion. The main theme itself isn't the most memorable on record, but in a score like this, that's not a crucial problem. A secondary piano theme, notably in I Don't Remember and Impostor, is ostensibly the love theme, but it's one of those slightly cold and steely melodies that could do with a touch more warmth, even at the risk of upsetting the uncertain sci-fi sound world.
The score's undoubted highlight is the seven minute Hog Chase, spread over two tracks. The mixture of orchestra and percussion is more David Arnold than Media Ventures, indeed all it needs are a few bursts of the Bond theme and this could easily be for 007. It comes across as a battle between percussion and orchestra, each taking turns in the dominant role, but the upshot is loud and exciting, with enough unexpected flourishes and dramatic punctuation to sustain the energy. The earlier Wolfe Pack is as engaging, although the climactic cues don't quite match the centrepiece. Although the film is a poor relative of Minority Report, Powell's score is every bit as engaging as John Williams' and in some ways a more gripping listen. Powell imbues scenes with a level of drama that the film simply doesn't have on its own terms and small touches, such as the string quartet version of the main theme in the final track, Rachel's Party, are an unexpected bonus in an unexpectedly classy action score.
Yet another Philip K. Dick short story has been turned into a movie. And just like Minority Report and many of his other stories this is a run-for-your-life-I-won't-let-them-catch-me story. This time Ben Affleck is doing the running. Jolly good. I wish he would keep running. Far, far away, where there are no film cameras. Let's face it - the guy stinks as an actor.
But that's not why we're here today. Let's mention the score, as well, shall we? Composed by John Powell, this is more or less exactly what to expect from a score written for a movie like Paycheck. It's exciting, modern - lots of electronics - and it's fast paced. So, Powell does exactly what he should. But the result isn't as boring and unoriginal as one may expect. Sure, it isn't groundbreaking material, either. But rather something in between.
"Wolfe Pack", for example, is a terrific action cue, with some great writing for brass and strings. Really good. The absolute highlight, however, are the two "Hog Chase" tracks, part 1 and 2. It's seven minutes of action and a wonderful mix of orchestra and synths. Again, some great writing for brass and strings. And percussion. Simply great.
So, that's the action. More tender moments can be found in the lovely "Rachel's Party", which is a string quartet version of the main theme. Add some lovely piano in "I Don't Remember" and you've got a score that's varied enough and a pleasant surprise. Far more interesting than the somewhat similar and related score Powell did for The Bourne Identity.
This soundtrack trailer contains music of:
Judge Dredd: Original Trailer Music, Jerry Goldsmith (Trailer)
Mother Rise , Immediate Music (Trailer)
Zion, Fluke (Trailer)
Switchback (Instrumental), Celldweller (song(s))
Other releases of Paycheck (2003):