SOURCE CODE – Chris Bacon


Original Review by Alan Rogers (First uploaded at maintitles.net)

Source Code is the sci-fi thriller follow-up movie from director Duncan Jones. Jones made his mark with the critically-acclaimed Moon and his second film has also been favourably received. The film centres around decorated soldier Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) who wakes up in the body of an unknown man and learns that he’s part of a government experiment, “Source Code”. Luckily this program allows him to assume another man’s identity in the last eight minutes of his life, and so he spends his time (over and over again) gathering clues to help identify a bomber and prevent his next attack. Having only seen the trailer for this movie it certainly looks like an exciting film. However, after having listened to relative newcomer Chris Bacon’s score for Source Code, the film does not seem as exciting as the trailer makes it out to be.

Although only recently started in film scoring in his own right Bacon began as an assistant to James Newton Howard, providing additional music projects including King Kong and later, Nanny McPhee and The Big Bang. Solo projects include the animated flicks Space Chimps and Alpha and Omega. Reported to have replaced Duncan Jones’ previous composing partner Clint Mansell, Bacon has provided this film with a serviceable orchestral score full of suspense and tension that is driven predominantly through the strings with support from various sections of the orchestra which adds texture and colour. When these textures include percussion (e.g., “Piecing It Together”, “No More Rubble Today”) the score reminds me of John Powell. A frustrating aspect of the score though is that within the myriad of suspense cues there are disappointingly brief snippets of interest: for example, hints of a piano melody towards the conclusion of “You Don’t Know Me”, an interesting brass motif alongside what sounds like a dulcimer at the start of “Eight Minutes”, an emotional swell in the score at the climax of “Am I Dead?” that just fizzles out. The list goes on and on. What is also frustrating is that the score began so strongly. “Source Code Main Titles” is full of movement both in terms of the driving ostinato (that will be a feature throughout the score) and with the inclusion of various sections of the orchestra at various points in the cue. This same sense of vigour is repeated in the final cue, “Everything’s Gonna Be Okay”, giving a sense of conclusion to the score – or perhaps a sense of things starting from the beginning again?

Because of the emphasis on suspense and tension the score doesn’t really offer any sense of development as it progresses. There is no great arc of thematic maturation. Or so I thought until I heard the final few tracks. The penultimate track, “Frozen Moment”, provides evidence of Bacon’s potential talent in film scoring given the right material to work with and that allows him to get all emotional. “Frozen Moment” stands tall above all that has gone before it, building to a lovely and emotional playing of a full-blown theme for Colter and Christina (played by Michelle Monaghan). The theme has been eluded to only in fragments earlier in the score. It’s a fine conclusion to the score.

Source Code is a frustrating listening experience. I am sure that it serves the film well, supporting the suspense and tension of the on-screen developments, but it only occasionally makes for an interesting listening experience apart from the film. However, the moments of the film that require Bacon to provide an emotional aspect is enough to suggest that he is a promising composer and one to watch for the future.

Rating: **

Track Listing:

  1. Source Code Main Titles (2:24)
  2. You Don’t Know Me (3:03)
  3. Eight Minutes (2:17)
  4. Racial Profiling (2:11)
  5. Coffee Will Have To Wait (2:13)
  6. Source Code Explained (3:18)
  7. Piecing It Together (3:25)
  8. Am I Dead? (2:38)
  9. One Death is Enough (2:39)
  10. Colter Follows Derek (5:26)
  11. A Real Validation (1:38)
  12. I’m Gonna Save Her (3:57)
  13. No More Rubble Today (2:34)
  14. Regret and Reconciliation (3:25)
  15. Frozen Moment (4:23)
  16. Everything’s Gonna Be Okay (2:51)

Running Time: 48:22

Lakeshore Records (2011)

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