English composer John Murphy has scored over 40 films in his career, though he it wasn’t until 1998’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and 2000s Snatch that he really earned mainstream recognition. He’s since relocated to Los Angeles and worked on many more high profile films, including 28 Days Later, Miami Vice and the recent remake of The Last House on the Left. But with Nimrod Antal’s Armored, Murphy places his rock stylings ahead of any orchestral work usually found in score-work. “I fondly remember Nimrod screaming at me through the noise ‘Louder, Bigger, Fuck it Up! Superb.'” recounts Murphy. “It’s not often that I get let off the leash to get all my guitars and distortion pedals out and smash it down with the director.” And smash it down he does.

Though Armored, a heist film about a group of officers – headed by Matt Dillon – at an armored transport security firm attempting to rip off their own company, proved to be a bit of a box-office dud, opening to weak returns and lackluster reviews, John Murphy’s score still puts off the hard rock vibes that action heist films are known for. There is a good deal of heavy guitar work (listen to “Stashing the Cash” for a quick one minute example of guitars-to-the-wall composition, and “Armored Truck Chase” for more atonal guitar sounds), some atmospheric pressure (check out “Killing Dobbs” for extended tension) , and even some borderline R&B funk (the beat-driven track “Work” sounds like it’s just waiting for someone to lay some vocals over it). For the most part everything here (around 41 minutes of music) is a bit like a slightly more expressive than usual metal album with the lyrics left out.

The music of Armored has a dark, driven vibe to it, highlighted in the fast-paced rhythms and pounding percussions found throughout the album. Tracks like “Ty Escapes,” with visceral percussion, hammered guitars and electronic effects personify the atmosphere Murphy seems to be going for with his composition. Having not seen the movie, I can’t comment on how much tension and excitement the music adds to the film itself, but on its own, this is a score that feels very much designed for maximum impact and audience reaction. The effect is a bit choppy at some points (the sudden rising action in “Booby Trap” is a bit much, as is the sudden ending), but overall this is the kind of score an action director should hope for, and John Murphy should hope for better projects in the future.

Zach’s Rating: B+
Perfect For: Working out to
Stay Away if: Orchestras and woodwinds are more your thing

To purchase the score for Armored, visit Amazon

Be Sociable, Share!