Trent Reznor has been making music since the 1980s, and is of the rare breed of artists that take the task with the utmost sincerity. His pioneer industrial rock work as Nine Inch Nails increased in complexity and nuance over the decades, coming to the attention of the film world with the production of the Lost Highway soundtrack for David Lynch.
Of course, it was his score for The Social Network with Atticus Ross that won him his first Academy Award, and their subsequent collaborations on The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Gone Girl, and last year’s Before the Flood have bagged them a slew of additional accolades. Their latest joint project, on director Peter Berg’s PATRIOTS DAY, is a thematic continuation of their previous film work.
The film is set around the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, and subsequent manhunt for the suspects, and the score is no less emotionally powerful. Opening track “Them and Us” comes with all measured urgency of Reznor and Ross’ other scores, before switching tack on “Inquiries” and “Trails” to the fractured moodiness of 1999’s The Fragile, complete with the melodic hum and disintegrating keyboards that characterise this part of their oeuvre. As with anything that has Reznor’s name attached, this is best listened to with headphones in order to catch its subtleties.
While it’s often difficult to fully judge a score as a separate entity from the images that it is intended to accompany, by the time you get to the deep and pulsing beats of “Broken Glass,” it is hard not to recall the events of 2013, or conjure up images of Mark Wahlberg in a police uniform in the midst of a chaotic recent tragedy. Unlike the media at the time, the score never gives into the chaos but instead reaches new levels of intensity on “Nobody Cares About Me” before giving way to the 12-minute centrepiece “The Night Drive.”
Reznor and Ross have recently been announced as the composers for Ken Burns’ new documentary on the Vietnam War, and this 68 minute atmospheric score may just serve as a terrific appetiser to what is sure to be an epic journey. As closes out on the tearjerking “Resolve,” a track destined to be mashed up with Reznor’s own “Hurt,” you’ll probably need a few minutes before hitting replay on your chosen device. It’s an impactful and cathartic collection of music.
The PATRIOTS DAY soundtrack is now available on iTunes/Google, Apple Music, Spotify (embedded above) or Amazon. The film opened for wide release in the US on 13 January 2017 from CBS Films and Lionsgate, and is due out in Australian cinemas on 2 February 2017 from Roadshow Films.