Soundtrack Review: American Ultra

Soundtrack Review: American Ultra

American Ultra Soundtrack Review: This is a review of the film score American Ultra by Marcelo Zarvos & Paul Hartnoll.

At a glance:

Geek Score: 96.3
Total Minutes Of Excellence: 33.21
Album Excellence: 81.02%

How are the scores calculated and what does it mean?

American Ultra is a 2015 American action comedy film directed by Nima Nourizadeh and starring Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart and Topher Grace. Small-town stoner Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg) spends most of his time getting high and writing a graphic novel. What Mike doesn’t know is that he was trained by the CIA to be a lethal killing machine. When the agency targets him for termination, his former handler activates his latent skills, turning the mild-mannered slacker into a deadly weapon. Now, the utterly surprised Mike must use his newfound abilities to save himself and his girlfriend from getting smoked. The score is composed by Marcelo Zarvos & Paul Hartnoll.

I always admired Zarvos is drama mode, but I don’t remember hearing him in action comedy mode so this will be exciting. Paul Hartnoll is an interesting partner for Zarvos. He’s one of the brothers of the English EDM band Orbital. I remember they co-composed a score for Event Horizon and there was also a movie called Pusher, but I can’t remember either score at the moment. The score opens with ‘Where Do You Want To Begin?’ by Paul Hartnoll, a teaser intro cue with very low key synths, very soothing in fact. There’s a theme here as well, but it’s so much buried in the underscore at first. It comes out a little later with some percussion and guitar and that made it instantly more interesting. Excellent start. ‘Hawaii’ is a beautiful sun-filled dance track. Where’s Zarvos though? This would appear to be all Hartnoll, except it’s credited to Zarvos. I’m super surprised!. Not that I mind. It’s pretty great so far. I love the fast percussion with the music. It’s a EDM version of Explosions In The Sky kind of music when they were great. This score seems to get better and better. ‘Rivalry Call’ has a lovely dirty low bass sound in addition to excellent stick-like percussion.

I love that the score use a lot of deep and dark sounds. The bass is specially appealing. It makes the score feels alive and fresh, particularly when paired with the the synths of a higher register on top. Marcelo Zarvos is credited to most of the cues, but I feel the spirit of Orbital in this score. I would never guess in a million years, that this was Zarvos’ music which is awesome. Way to reinvent yourself! ‘Sheriff Attack’ is bad ass. Reminds me a bit of Haslinger’s explosive and fun score to “Shoot ‘Em Up”. I also remember the recent action scores of another EDM outfit, Hybrid. It has elements of that and I for one am far from finished with that kind of music. I love it. This is a rockin’ EDM soundtrack and it packs a massive punch, in fact I think it packs a Chuck Norris roundhouse kick to the face. I also love that Zarvos has joined the minimalist craze happening these days with cues like ‘I’m Your Handler’ and ‘Early Morning’ and soon the score to The Affair will be released and I expect more minimalist greatness there. Yes, this was awesome right from that start with ultra cool action pieces to some of the best minimalist music. Just because Hartnoll is awesome he ends the score in amazing fashion with the overly EDM/Action cue ‘Apollo Ape’. Yeah this brings me back. I’m not proud of my 90s dance music period, but I have some amazing musical memories from that time and this cue hits the spot.

HIGHLIGHTS:
1. Where Do You Want To Begin?
2. Hawaii *
3. Rivalry Call
4. Killing Time
6. Sheriff Attack
8. Fireworks
9. I’m Your Handler *
12. Treason Calls
13. Early Morning *
14. Ultra Violent Music
15. Am I The Tree? *
16. Hammer And Smoke
17. Drone Order
18. I Am The Tree *
19. Aisle Fight Music
20. Mike And Laughter
21. Agent Howell
22. Apollo Ape *

GD Star Rating
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Soundtrack Review: American Ultra, 5.5 out of 10 based on 2 ratings

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