For me, James Newton Howard is one of the most consistently inventive, stylish and
entertaining composers working today and this long awaited soundtrack for The
Package (1989) was my own personal introduction to his considerable talents,
the first score of his that I heard and thought to myself, this guy is one to
watch. The sheer amount of energy and melodic verve that he has managed to instil
in what could have so easily been just another routine action/suspense outing
is quite staggering and on numerous occasions the music elevates the film itself
to a far higher level than it would have ever been able to achieve otherwise.
Without question the most enjoyable aspect of the work is the potent sense of urgency
it generates, gradually turning up the heat through a series of insistent, taut
cues, the best of which, ‘Eileen Answers Phone/Chase Pt.1/Chase Pt.2’, is very
likely to leave the listener (or viewer) literally gripping the edge of their
seat. At other times the composer counter-balances all of this high tension
with more thoughtful, relatively subdued tracks like ‘Boyette Leaves Safehouse’
and this gives the score a cohesive, rounded quality that is all too often lacking
in this particular genre.
Much like the film itself, this work may not be a bona-fide classic, but both are
way above the norm in terms of quality for this kind of thing and this makes
The Package such a welcome release, a genuine sleeper that has been up
until now overlooked. A large pat on the back then to Prometheus Records for
sharing this minor gem with us all.