Lorne Balfe’s Gemini Man boasts a memorable main theme, several exciting action cues and an excellent finishing suite that all together make for one of the more interesting action scores this year.
Almost solemn-sounding strings open the album’s first cue entitled Last Shot, and after a few seconds composer Lorne Balfe then introduces us to the score’s main theme, a motif accompanied shortly thereafter by bold, dramatic percussion. As themes go it’s not half bad, sounding partly dark and mysterious and partly courageous and heroic, which given the film it represents is pretty much exactly what I was expecting. That being said, I found myself rather surprised at how memorable it is, having caught myself humming it on more than one occasion. I must admit that I’ve never had the highest of opinions for Mr. Balfe’s compositional work in the past, but here – so far, so good.
After the rather dramatic nature of the opening track things then slow right down for Burning The Past, where deep and rather dark electronics set a fairly ominous atmosphere during the cue’s first minute. Saddened strings then come into play for the back half, as the mood switches from creepy to almost reflective as said strings play a methodical and rather restrained-sounding rendition of the main theme. Dramatic percussion appears towards the end of the piece, hinting at a darker, more action-heavy musical ideology that then fully reveals itself in Are You Dia?, a loud and particularly tense track that features many an appearance from loud, fast-paced drums and several electrifying bursts of deep brass.
The action then really kicks off with First Confrontation, a track that opens with some rather intriguing heartbeat-like deep percussive elements before then rapidly ramping up the pace at about the ninety-second mark with frantic strings and the occasional loud barrage of brass notes. This rapidity then continues through into Bike Fu, a similarly action-centric piece that plays heavily into the moody yet particularly intense atmosphere that the score has been setting up so far. Things then calm down a bit for Catacombs, where the action is replaced by mystery and intrigue with slow strings in combination with the previously established methodicial heartbeat-esque percussion. The main theme also makes an appearance here, though a sadly rather fleeting one.
Pensive strings open I Know You Inside And Out, setting a rather sombre tone for the first ninety seconds or so before the loud and boisterous percussion then kicks back in. Following not far behind them are the established dramatic bursts of brass, and all-in the instruments make for a rather tense if not slightly generic-sounding action cue overall. If not for the occasional appearances of the main theme at various intervals in the track, it would be quite difficult to tell the music here apart from say…Mission: Impossible – Fallout. Towards the end of the piece the slow strings then return, leading into the subsequent Henry And Junior, a rather solemn and reflective track that features a pretty great-sounding main theme rendition on strings.
Tension is then kicked up tenfold in Don’t You Feel Pain?, a fast-paced and rapid-strings-heavy three-minute action setpiece. I must say I am rather enjoying Balfe’s action style here more than I usually do, although I am starting to notice a bit of a lack of thematic material – like I said earlier, when the main theme doesn’t appear, the action falls close to generic and almost boring-sounding territory. I do enjoy the incredibly rapid nature of this particular cue though, and the main theme does show itself again – segmented through strings at various points in Verris, the next cue on the album. It picks up the established slow and solemn atmosphere from previous tracks and then injects bits of the theme across its near four minute runtime.
Those Ghosts begins the surprisingly action-light finale of the score, utilising slow and methodical strings to create a rather ominous atmosphere before then moving into Thanks, Brother. Things start to look a bit more upbeat at the start of this track, with light strings and almost heroic percussion building in the background before the tone then fades back into more mysterious-sounding territory – at which point the cue then ends.
To close out the album we are then treated to standout cue Gemini Man, a suite-like eight-minute-long piece that does the one thing I’ve been waiting for throughout the album; giving the main theme a good old fashioned fleshing out. Light strings play the motif a few times in the opening minutes before epic percussion starts to build, and what Thanks, Brother hinted at finally comes to fruition – a heroic rendition of the main theme. Sadly it doesn’t last for long as the strings then return, reprising both the solemn and ominous sides of the score one last time before then bringing us right back where we want to be with a particularly dramatic final playthrough of the main theme to close the suite. All-in the track is a pretty excellent showcase of the elements I enjoyed the most from this score, and is just a pretty great cue all round.
Overall, Lorne Balfe’s score for Gemini Man is pretty solid. The main theme is of course the star of the show, being quite memorable and very enjoyable to listen to. I do feel that it could perhaps have been utilised a bit more on the album though, as apart from the opening track and ending suite it makes only brief appearances throughout the rest of the score. When it did appear the theme elevated the tracks it was in considerably. Other than the theme, I felt that the album’s action cues were quite good, with Bike Fu and Don’t You Feel Pain? being great examples (particularly the latter) though I do also feel that their compositional style does lean towards a rather generic sound at times. All-in though it’s a good effort, and I highly recommend the final track below.
Standout Cue: 17. Gemini Man