CD: Speed 2 – Cruise Control (1997)

May 24, 2012 | By

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Rating: Very Good

Label: LLLCD-1138/ Released: June 15, 2010

Tracks & Album Length: 14 tracks / (70:24)


Special Notes: 20-page colour booklet with liner notes by Daniel Schweiger / Limited to 3000 copies.


Composer: Mark Mancina




Roger Ebert was very much alone when he gave Speed 2 great big thumbs up, and the overall consensus among critics and fans of the original film was of the sequel being quite lame, and confirmation that as a director, ex-cinematographer Jan de Bont  was only as good as his script.

Speed 2 was and remains a lousy film, and that reputation has maligned one of Mark Mancina’s better action scores of the period. La-La Land’s CD features material that wasn’t used in the final film edit, and the complete cues reveal a solid action score that seamlessly combines electronica and orchestral elements.

“Engine Room” is the score’s first real dramatic cue (the first track is a perfunctory Speed theme recap with the famous Fox Fanfare), and contains key elements of Mancina’s score: ominous pulsing bass, great dynamics among the strings and brass, and processed bass booms and rumbles that undoubtedly exploited the film’s 5.1 mix. A ticking motif keeps the cue’s tenor somber and ominous, but Mancina introduces his eerie villain theme – very simple, clean, but grounded in a menacing series of tones redolent of a classic Bondian villain. “Overboard” is even more brooding, with a heavier emphasis on low tones and grungy harmonies, and a brief heroic peak that precedes a boost in orchestral momentum, with Mancina bringing in thick percussion.

The original theme from Speed [M] (1994) is given a chunkier, percussive edge in Speed 2, and Mancina plays it against his villain theme in the score’s first steady action cue, “Tanker Turn.” Mancina’s approach to action consists of heavy theme quotations rather than deconstructing things or delving into the abstract or impressionistic, making his scoring style rather old-fashioned.

That approach tends to make his action cues highly reflective of whatever onscreen action is taking place, so while it’s easy to imagine when the hero is swinging into action or struggling in a lethal battle with a thug, it also makes some cues monotonous – a problem that becomes more pronounced in the album’s last major action cuts, “The Harbor” and “Final Chase.” The motifs are oft-repeated, and there isn’t enough variety among instrumentation, which may illustrate the limits of the composer, or director de Bont, who wanted a simple pulsing motif tracked over the action scenes due to an overabundance of sound effects.

The score does recover with the final action cue “Underwater Rescue,” but its brevity is too severe, and the album’s final cue recaps the Calypso Muzak heard in “Alex and Annie / Carribean Cruise,” albeit with full orchestra and a brief sax solo.

Speed 2 is one of Mancina’s better nineties action scores, but its weaknesses are perhaps too reflective of the film’s inherent dramatic limitations, and de Bont’s emphasis on smash-boom montages that extended the film’s running time into a bloated, vapid experience.



© 2012 Mark R. Hasan


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