February 2003 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Gary S. Dalkin
Managing Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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The Package  
Music composed by James Newton Howard
  Available on Prometheus Records (PCR 516)  
Running Time: 50:41
May be purchased from buysoundtrax.com


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.

Mark Hockley

**** 4

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