Michael Mann films are noted for three things :
1. A decent story line
2. Amazing cinematograhy – often of LA
3. Use of music to underline or enhance the atmosphere of the film (for example the downtown shoot out sequence in Heat – which can’t have run on so long if it hadn’t been for the taught underlying music, or closing scene when De Niro is shot featuring Moby’s God Flying Over The Face Of The Water).
Many of Mann’s soundtracks are essenitally compilations with a few additional special sequences written for the film (this time contributed by James Newton Howard). Unlike a lot of main stream soundtracks that work from compilations, Mann doesn’t go for obvious or easy choices – this makes for a refreshing change, and still the soundtracks stand up in their own right as an indpendent piece of music – see The Insider for proof of this. This soundtrack continues with this form, with only one well known track which was remixed for the film (Oakenfold’s Ready Steady Go which has appeared in the Bourne films).
The soundtrack opens with some decent straight ahead rock, which happens whilst the film is introducing Max. Then the you have the fantastic Groove Armada’s Hands Of Time which has a Ritchie Valens vocal. The album is worth investigating purely on the strength of this track alone.
After Hands Of Time we have several Latin/Mexican tinged numbers which build up tempo to an Audioslave number, all of which are worthwhile. But after Audioslave we get a jaring change of style to Jazz from Miles Davis, a fine number but I’m inclined to resequence the album to avoid this jaring (the album’s running order reflects the film’s chronology).
Then we have another dramatic change of style for Paul Oakenfold’s Ready Steady Go – a pretty dramatic piece of electronica, which was brilliantly cut in the film.
The final sequence of the pieces come from James Newton Howard which provide a tremondously pensive close.
Overall, great, but not quiet as brilliant as the Heat soundtrack.