The Music of ‘Criminal’


For Criminal, Brian Tyler is in full Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL mode. His music here is very familiar for anybody who has watched action films in the last ten years. The score is driven by a recurring theme that begins with a moody and almost soothing song called Drift and Fall Again (featuring Lola Marsh) that sounds like it would be perfect in a David Lynch movie. It’s a solid pop song that works to accompany the film’s more intimate and emotional moments.

Criminal, for the most part, is a hyper-violent madhouse of a movie. I couldn’t believe some of the action scenes in this. Kevin Costner has never been this cold blooded or ruthless in a movie and trying to think about what kind of music would fit his character is crazy. I would think his character Jericho is a classic rock fan that would absolutely love the soundtrack to Rob Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects, but since Criminal is technically a science fiction brain swap movie, it fits that Bryan Tyler would work with fellow collaborator Keith Power to compose a score that contains elements of Classical, Rock, Industrial, Electronica and Central Asian influences. It’s a cool sandbox to play in, but the redundant tone hurts the soundtrack as a whole. [Andrew Hawkins]

Brian Tyler

Brian Tyler is an all around great composer, however, I was slightly disappointed by his writing for his latest score in Criminal. He’s well known, or at least should be, for Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, a few of the Fast and Furious movies, as well as many other titles.

Unlike most of his usual scores, the one for Criminal is very repetitive and doesn’t seem to use a whole lot of imagination. Or at the very least, it doesn’t make sense listening to it by itself. The score is definitely one of those that greatly accompany the movie but wouldn’t do well on its own. My biggest pet peeve with this, even if it fits the movie quite well, is that almost the entire score is electronic, which is a big reason amost of the music sounds so similar.

The score had a lot of eerie quality to it, though there were some very distinguishable strings and drums, even a beautiful piano melody, thought that too was sadly turned into electronic. Most of those pieces that were slightly different than the bulk of the music were part of scenes involved with Jericho remembering Bill’s life of when visiting Bill’s wife. [Alex Mayes]

I thought the electronic drum and bass parts of the soundtrack were odd by themselves and the very abrupt moments where harsh instruments immediately halted were jarring, but if you compare this work to something like Mad Max: Fury Road, you can definitely see the influence. Everyone wants to make this kind of record for their action movie these days. There are very dark moments of deep bass and ambient backgrounds that make the score feel ominous, and then distorted noise fills the gaps to push the feeling of adrenaline onto the listener. There are many times in the album where I felt like the pulsing electronic music was intentionally used to accompany the action of the movie. [Andrew Hawkins]

All in all, the score was disappointing most of the time and I expected much more from Tyler. I won’t leave any spoilers for you, but regardless of the music, it’s still a good movie and well worth the trip to the theater. [Alex Mayes]

Criminal is worth seeing for Kevin Costner’s Nick Nolte impersonation alone. Brian Tyler’s score works to the film’s advantage, but as a standalone album it has issues. Some standout tracks can be found in “Drift” and “Fall Again”, “Chained”and “You Remember”, but the tracks do all have a very similar tone. Fans of mechanical electronic soundtracks that contain familiar tropes will likely enjoy it, but the work is really meant to be seen with the film. [Andrew Hawkins]

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