Soundtrack Review: ‘Hanna’ By The Chemical Brothers

There is a fantastic new trend in the world of film music, more and more main stream artists are bringing their talents to feature films.  These artists are crafting music that serves to make the films better and stand on their own. Last year two of the best scores were written by Trent Reznor for The Social Network and Daft Punk for Tron Legacy, the line between film composing and main stream music is blending, and we all win for that.

The latest established act to venture into the cinematic music world is the Chemical Brothers. The long standing electronica duo lend their considerable expertise to the film Hanna, an action adventure movie that is high on adrenaline, and they deliver a score to match.

The music sounds very much like The Chemical Brothers would make. That is to say that we don’t get an orchestral hybrid, or their best impressions of John Williams. What we do get is music that pumps and flows with all the frenzy and furry expected from a standard Chemical Brothers album.

My first listen to this album was out of context. I hadn’t seen the movie yet and simply started at track one. The music is instantly gripping and by about 30 seconds into the second track I had to get up and walk around while I listend. The score then took a few tonal  twists and turns, which is not uncommon for film music, but was a little jarring when listening as if it were simply an album. By the end the themes become a little repetitive, but each new version offers something interesting.

I really liked the score at first, but it wasn’t until I saw the film that I really appreciated what exactly the Brothers Chemical had done. Those tonal shifts that sounded odd in the first listen, well they are in fact some of the creepiest and effective villain cues I have ever heard.

Favorite Three Tracks:

Track 2 – Escape 700: By far my favorite track on this album. Escape 700 is exactly the kind of pulse pounding, perfect beat busting, adrenaline push that can make any mundane act the most epic thing ever. I was on the bus listening to this track and the world altered itself around me to fall in line with the beat. It slow builds for about a minute, but instead of annoy, it builds anticipation that turns on a dime into a nearly perfect cacophony of sound that works to perfection. This track alone is worth giving this whole album a shot.

Track 11 – The Devil Is In The Beats: This track starts with Eric Bana giving a clinical definition of music to his daughter. This is from a key moment in the early portions of the film and sets up the fact that Hanna is as much a killing machine as she is a curious teenage girl, looking for the beauty in things. The track progresses into the best variation of the best villain cue of the movie. Tom Hollander is a great actor, but it is his unsettling whistling of this tune that sells his character and cements this track as a great listen after you see the film.

Track 20 – Hanna’s Theme (Vocal Version): Hanna’s theme is played during the movie from time to time, but it is this version with the haunting vocals that plays during the end credits that I like the best. It is, at the same time, the saddest and most hopeful of all the other variations. It also works beautifully in context with the album, it is a more complex and human version of the first track, which is a perfect parallel to where Hanna is at the end of the film.

Least Favorite Track:

Track 15 – Sun Collapse: Not a song, not a theme, barely even a cue. This track is 11 seconds of a sound effect. An annoying, and utterly pointless track addition. Not only is it all so brief and shallow, but it connects to the next track in such a seamless way that if you didn’t look at you iTunes, you would never had noticed a track ended. I don’t understand it, and it annoyed me. That said, since my least favorite track isn’t music in my opinion I wont hold it against the score.

In all I loved this album, both as a film score and a stand alone musical experience. I highly recommend this to any fan of The Chemical Brothers, film music, electronica or any pulse pounding musical genre.

Total Score for Hanna: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack –

4.5 out of 5

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