Max Payne“It was a good gig… quick, dirty and fun.” So say co-composers Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders on their work scoring director John Moore’s dark actioner Max Payne. The film itself is a bleak, emotionally sterile adaptation of a shoot-em-up video game, starring Mark Wahlberg as the titular Max. Backing up the film’s dreary landscapes is Beltrami and Sanders’ equally dark score. Though the two accomplished composers (Beltrami did composition for the Scream trilogy, Resident Evil, Terminator 3, and I, Robot – Sanders co-produced many of those scores and also provided some co-composition) have not been credited as co-composers before, the two have worked together on many projects. The chemistry between the two men shows through in the succinctness of the score.

In the liner notes of the album, there’s a good deal of explanation as to how they got the sounds they wanted and their reasons for choosing the instruments they chose, but the most noticeable thing about the score itself, is how driving and hip it is. Aside from the occasional foray into the emotional (“No Respects For You” is one of the rare instances of slower, more emotional strings showing up), the score for Max Payne is nonstop action. The bass pounds, the strings tremble, and the crescendoes build and break throughout as Sanders and Beltrami work their way through this continuous action piece. There are unexpected moments, as in the sudden jump in pacing that occurs in the video-gamey “Factoring Max.”

Max Payne is an impressive score, though ultimately not that much different from most action scores – they’re made to be exciting, and they accomplish that admirably. While Beltrami and Sanders manage to inject a sense of the unknown and a decent amount of emotional undertones to an “emotionally dead” lead character, the score for Max Payne is still a score for a video game adaptation. In this case, though, that’s a good thing. Beltrami is known for turning stereotypical music on its head (look what he did with his Scream scorework or his Oscar-nominated work on 3:10 to Yuma) and Beltrami and Sanders together are an unstoppable team.

Zach’s Rating: B+
Perfect For: Anyone looking for a pounding action score with a few intermingled emotions
Stay Away if: You’re looking for something by Howard Shore
If you buy only one track, make it this one: “Payneful Piano” – Beltrami and Sanders had their piano detuned five times to get this eerie sound. It was worth it.

To purchase the score for Max Payne, visit Amazon

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