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  • Stefan Riedlinger

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation - Joe Kraemer - Soundtrack Review

This week, I wanted to discuss Patrick Doyle’s “Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein”, but then I saw the new “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” on Sunday and switched my mind. Therefore, “Frankenstein” will be reviewed next week.

The movie

"Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation" is a 2015 American action spy film written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie, from a story by McQuarrie and Drew Pearce and the fifth installment in the Mission: Impossible film series. The film stars Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Alec Baldwin, Sean Harris, Ving Rhames, Simon McBurney, and Tom Hollander, with Cruise, Renner, Pegg, and Rhames reprising their roles from previous films. Rogue Nation is produced by Cruise, J. J. Abrams, and David Ellison of Skydance Productions. In the film, IMF agent Ethan Hunt is on the run from the CIA, following the IMF's dissolution as he tries to prove the existence of the Syndicate, a mysterious international terrorist consortium.

I am a big fan of Tom Cruise’s “Mission: Impossible”-franchise even though I am not a big fan of the actor. Tom Cruise is a famous member of Scientology, and his engagement for this “church” is mostly annoying. People say he is the real Nr. 1 behind the official chairman David Miscavige. Cruise’s criticisms of psychiatry and anti-depressant drugs, particularly the therapy for 9/11 rescue workers, and his efforts to promote Scientology as a religion in Europe resulted in a lot of controversies.

The “Mission: Impossible”-series was created by Bruce Geller in 1966. The series was a typical cold war product, but became soon very famous for the main theme composed by Lalo Schifrin and the famous title sequence, started with a fuse being lit. As the fuse burned across the screen, clips from current episode were shown. Tom Cruise adapted for his movies the theme and also this teaser. Interesting is that the actual Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union is rarely mentioned in the series. The plots took mostly place in fictional Slavic countries.

I found a clip of the original theme.

And this version is great because it is played live, with Lalo Schifrin on the piano.

The “Mission: Impossible” franchise is one of the best in the last years. My favorite movie is still the first one because this is one of the best Brian De Palma movies ever. I love this director and his way of visual storytelling, but you have to admit that De Palma is best when he is directing screenplays from other authors, e.g. David Mamet’s “The Untouchables” or “Mission: Impossible” (script by David Koepp and Robert Towne). When De Palma is directing his own stories, he often gets lost in his own fetiches.

The second “Mission: Impossible” was directed by the Chinese Action-specialist John Woo and has great action scenes with a minimum of a plot. Hans Zimmer composed the soundtrack that heavily relies on drums and electronic guitars. “Mission: Impossible III” , directed by J. J. Abrams, is in my opinion the worst in the series because the idea of this bomb in the head is such a crappy idea even though Tom Cruise gave again a great performance. “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” was far better even though I really hate Tom Cruise’s superman attitude in this movie. He seems to be unbreakable and unbeatable, and therefore, the character is really boring.

I watched the fourth movie during my three years stay in China, and the franchise is very popular there. Therefore, I was not surprised to see that Cruise for the fifth one now co-operated with Chinese production companies. Because of this, he is able to put the movie very easily into the theatres. The Chinese government still allows just 25 foreign movies to be shown in the theatres per year to push the own movie industry and force people to see Chinese movies. By hiring local production companies, Cruise’s movie does not fall under this quote. Stallone did the same with the second "Expendable".

Christopher McQuarrie directed the fifth “Mission: Impossible”, and this is also the fifth collaboration between Cruise and this director. The film is without any doubt the best action movie of this summer, and perhaps just the new James Bond movie “Spectre” can top the action scenes. The movie has a great mixture of suspense and action scenes, balanced with good humor, and shows also that Ethan Hunt is not a superman; he really had a hard time dealing with the mysterious woman, played by the attractive Swedish actress Rebecca Ferguson. Furthermore, the plot has some nice twists.

The music

Joe Kraemer composed the soundtrack, and it is his third collaboration with McQuarrie. I never heard of Kraemer before, and during watching the movie, I liked the constant and various usage of the main theme and the overall orchestration of the soundtrack. So, let’s talk about this score here a bit.

Kraemer, born 1973 and raised in Albany, New York, is an American film music composer. His father and his uncle were both musicians, and Kraemer began taking piano lessons at an early age. In high school, he befriended an older boy named Scott Storm, and this guy introduced Kraemer later to filmmakers Bryan Singer and Christopher McQuarrie.

While attending Berklee School of Music in Boston, Kraemer decided he wanted to be a film composer. First working as a sound editor, he started composing for television and film. Kraemer's first feature score was the 2000 film “The Way of the Gun”, a modern-day western, directed by Oscar-winner McQuarrie.

When you listen to the score, it will remind you a lot of Michael Giaccchino’s “Jurassic World”, a score that I discussed a few weeks ago. Giacchino composed the music for Mission: Impossible 3 and 4. Kraemer also focused on an orchestral score and used heavily the popular main theme throughout the score, in my opinion very enjoyable.

The music consists, in general, of action tracks and tracks that you can describe as suspense or atmosphere tracks such as “Solomon Lane”, “Good evening, Mr Hunt”, “The Plan”, "Grave Consequences” or “A Matter Of Going”. Kraemer is great at composing these suspense tracks, and the seven minute piece “The Torus” is one of the highlights of this score. In this scene, Cruise takes the challenge to jump into the torus to exchange the data disks

The first track “The A400” is a great action track for the first scenes, and track 4 “Escape to Danger” (the percussion here reminds you of the ticking of a bomb) and track 6 “A Flight at the Opera” are nice action pieces, too. Track 5 "Havana to Vienna” gives you some local touch with some Kuba-music. A further great action track is “A Foggy Night in London” (with a longer version of Kraemer’s theme for this movie that is based on Puccini's "Nessum Dorma" song), and the final one “Finale and Curtain Fall” closes the score. There are also some lyrical and slower tracks, e.g. “A Matter Of Going”.

The soundtrack is not the best action soundtrack this year, I still prefer “Jurassic World”, but you have to acknowledge that with Joe Kraemer, there is a fairly new face in the action genre who is able to use the full range of orchestral effects and has a great sense of drama and creating suspense. Watch here the trailer.

Have fun and see you next week with “Frankenstein”, one of the best action scores of Patrick Doyle..

Copyright © Stefan Riedlinger, 2015, all rights reserved. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Stefan Riedlinger.

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