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Section Header
Safe House
Composed and Produced by:
Ramin Djawadi

Conducted by:
Gavin Greenaway

Orchestrated by:
Stephen Coleman
Matt Dunkley

Varèse Sarabande

Release Date:
February 21st, 2012

Also See:
Vantage Point
Clash of the Titans

Audio Clips:
1. Safe House (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

14. Langa (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

17. Truth (0:31):
WMA (204K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

18. I'll Take it From Here (0:29):
WMA (188K)  MP3 (239K)
Real Audio (168K)

Regular U.S. release.


Safe House

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Buy it... if you never lose patience with ambient, percussive thriller scores that toil endlessly in the bass region until a marginal dose of redemptive, melodic expression in the closing moments instills a sense of heightened, gloomy finality.

Avoid it... if you expect to hear Ramin Djawadi finally define his career sound, because this effort is a continuation of his habit of providing safely predictable and extremely derivative music to earn his paychecks.

Safe House: (Ramin Djawadi) Corruption within America's CIA isn't exactly a novel concept, but the fiscally successful 2012 film Safe House attempts to milk the idea for whatever excitement still remains in its possibilities. Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds star as CIA agents in differing stages of going rogue, harboring sensitive information about unflattering activities by their current and former superiors and thus coming under attack from mercenaries and agents focused on containing those revelations. While chasing through South Africa, these agents are brutalized and even worse, though it doesn't take much forethought to predict that some noble soul will post the offensive information online by movie's end. Swedish director Daniel Espinosa marks his first American feature with Safe House, and while he generated heralded performances from the two leads, his work was otherwise criticized in mixed reviews for its derivative chase sequences and even more derivative script. It should come as no surprise to film score collectors that Safe House was treated to music of direct lineage from the methodology of John Powell and Hans Zimmer's Remote Control production house. Any one of Zimmer's former ghostwriters could handle this project with an appropriately modern, technologically edgy, and rhythmically propulsive score, and the clone taking the job this time was Ramin Djawadi. In his feature film work, Djawadi had yet to really distinguish himself from his peers, and Safe House continues that trend. While any part of this music could have been written by Atli Orvarsson, Marc Streitenfeld, Steve Jablonsky, or a host of others, Djawadi does at least take the opportunity to extend his ambient approach out in the direction of Cliff Martinez and other artists concerned more with the tone of their bleak environment than simply emulating the slapping, looped mannerisms of Powell. There are moments in Safe House when Djawadi does take the Powell route, especially in the most exciting chase sequences. An emphasis on a varied percussion section is especially indicative of this influence, though its applications aren't quite as creative until the ball-busting force of the final cue. But, in the end, Djawadi's work is short on empathy and originality, reducing it to a status as a functional but, like the film, equally derivative piece of mindless entertainment.

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While an orchestral ensemble was contracted for Safe House, Djawadi fills his soundscape most frequently with his percussive array and ambient synthetic tones. During the lengthy sequences of droning on key, the orchestra occasionally provides some minimal amount of beefiness, but its presence doesn't become truly pronounced until the score's end. Most of the score could be completely synthesized without much difference in effectiveness, keyboarded electronic haziness in the bass region particularly reminiscent of Martinez's style. The amount of pulsation on key in Safe House is disappointing though emblematic of current Remote Control techniques of hammering home the gravity of any event on screen. The action sequences are extremely tired, exercising looped ideas and percussive sounds that strive for nothing new. These parts of the score also neglect to really address any of the fear associated with being in a foreign environment surrounded by hostile interests. The character-building sequences between the two leads, as well as in the tension shared by Reynolds and his romantic interest, is not convincingly handled by Djawadi in a way that can bring any sense of warmth to these performances. A slightly noble sense of justice does bleed through as the score reaches its more melodramatic cues towards the end, but even here the tone of the work is deeply rooted in the bass and suggests no empathy. The increasing tonality of the score as it nears that conclusion is the most important observation to be made. At 69 minutes in length, the score-only album for Safe House is extremely tedious and redundant, though listeners patient enough to tolerate the first forty minutes will be rewarded by far more interesting ideas in the final five or six cues. There is thematic material developed over the course of Safe House, though while the main theme is only suggested in cloudy shades in the opening "Safe House" cue, it begins to really establish itself in these latter stages. By "Truth" and "I'll Take it From Here," the melodic identities provide a form of redemption, especially in "Truth," which belatedly exudes a dose of broader orchestral depth in the mid-range octaves. Even here, though, Djawadi adheres to convention, assign a two-note motif slurring down to key in the major mode over the final 40 seconds, a technique common to resolving thrillers (Jerry Goldsmith's The Vanishing immediately comes to mind). Overall, Safe House is a sufficiently competent but redundant score that will require extreme patience with its exceedingly long album presentation. Price Hunt: CD or Download

    Music as Written for the Film: ***
    Music as Heard on Album: **
    Overall: ***

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 2.54 Stars
Smart Average: 2.69 Stars*
***** 10 
**** 17 
*** 33 
** 30 
* 31 
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    * Smart Average only includes
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   I disagree
  Deans -- 4/28/12 (7:52 p.m.)
   Alternative review at
  Southall -- 3/29/12 (4:22 p.m.)
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 Track Listings: Total Time: 68:51

• 1. Safe House (3:16)
• 2. A Hundred Lies a Day (3:16)
• 3. Get in the Trunk (4:25)
• 4. Do I Make You Nervous? (3:08)
• 5. I Used to Be Innocent Like You (2:11)
• 6. Tobin Frost (2:19)
• 7. Off the Grid (3:28)
• 8. Do What You Have to Do (4:49)
• 9. Don't Kill Innocent People (3:45)
• 10. Who Do You Work For? (3:45)
• 11. Walk Away (6:04)
• 12. People Change (2:17)
• 13. Be Better Than Me (4:12)
• 14. Langa (6:14)
• 15. More Past Than Future (3:19)
• 16. 12 Months (3:06)
• 17. Truth (3:43)
• 18. I'll Take it From Here (5:47)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert includes no extra information about the score or film.

  All artwork and sound clips from Safe House are Copyright © 2012, Varèse Sarabande. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 3/26/12 (and not updated significantly since). Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2012-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.