Original Motion Picture Score
POP QUIZ HOTSOT! Everyone remembers Dennis Hopper’s famous line from 1994’s Speed right? Well here’s my review of the La La Land Records released score by Mark Mancina. Get ready because this review has to STAY ABOVE 50 or else the website will explode!
Speed was a groundbreaking film. I don’t care what anyone says about it. To my knowledge no film before Speed tried to have a bus jump the way that the bus jumped in Speed. It’s been 21 years since Speed was in theaters. After re watching it for the first time in a long time, I’m here to tell you it still holds up as one of the most suspenseful films of the 90s.Obviously everyone remembers Keanu Reeves from the Bill & Ted films, and Babes in Toyland. Those came before Speed. The funny thing is, and I know I’m gonna get flack for this. I don’t even remember seeing any of those three films. I remember Keanu Reeves mostly from Speed and 1996’s Chain Reaction. Of course after that he went all Red Pill on us as Neo in the Matrix Trilogy. However Speed was my first real introduction to him as an actor, and after this film I’ve pretty much followed his career. Speed follows the lives of two police officers Jack and Harry, who are bomb squad members. The film sets up the villain in Dennis Hopper’s Howard Payne very well. The funny thing is even though I hadn’t seen this film in a long time I do not ever remember the way that it opens. Which is we start in the elevator shaft. SURE I remember the elevator scene with the people trapped and all that. I just don’t remember the opening titles to the film. When I was re watching it in order to write this review, I had forgotten how quiet it starts out. There are so many memorable moments in Speed, and Mark Mancina’s score is most definitely one of them. Let me take you on a journey through the La La Land Records soundtrack release!
We start off with Track 1: “Main Title**” this is that low and slow build up theme I was mentioning earlier that plays out during the opening title sequence. Around the 1 min mark or just before we get into the main cue of the score. Mancina really crafted something there with that. He gave the film’s character vehicle a theme. Now I know lots of items in film and television can have themes. However it’s not very often that a passenger bus gets its own theme. I think that is just amazing. As Track 2: “Elevator Stall” begins I am left wondering as I listen to it, what was going through Mark Mancina’s mind when coming up with this theme? I’m questioning this in a good way, because holy crap this is dark and almost electronic sounding. Tracks 3 and 4 are “Elevator Peril and Move” These add to the tension that track 2 started. The tones in track 4 are superbly put together. Especially the ending cues, it shows how Mancina captures that darkness within the villain. The main theme pops into Track 5: “Pop Quiz*” right around the 2 min mark and I just can’t get enough of those 1 or 2 beats of music! Honestly folks if I love listening to just a few seconds of a theme, then you know the composer did something right. Track 6: “Dangling Feet” is only 37 seconds, but Mark Mancina captures the element of danger during the elevator rescue scene. This track was very high-octane. Track 7: “Freight Elevator” shows us the moments when Jack and Harry are trying to catch the at the time unknown bomber. Mancina really puts in tones that I don’t think I’ve ever heard before on a score. The man can really use bass to his advantage so well.
Track 8: “Payne Explodes*” is where the villain of the film is ready to bait our hero Jack. What I enjoy with this one is that there is a low slow back beat around the 0:55 mark to just after the 1:20 mark. After which Mancina kicks us in the face with one of the best instrumental build ups ever caught on a film score. Seriously I don’t think I could listen to this score in the dark at 1am. This track is super scary sounding. Then there is Track 9: “Payne Watches Awards / Payne Calls Jack*” This is the one where as the track name says Payne Calls Jack. This is where Payne lets Jack know he’s still alive, and he’s planted another bomb. This is a 2:34 track length, and right after that 34th second it almost seemingly fades into Track 10: “Jack Driving Jeep / Bus Enters Freeway*” which is only 24 seconds long. Some people might LOVE long score tracks, and I’m talking 5-8 mins or more per track, but for me… If you give me a great theme in 56 seconds or less, you can bet I’ll love that piece of music forever. That’s exactly what Mark Mancina did with track 10. The fade from tracks 9 to 10 is so flawless… I thought Track 10 was still a part of track 9. OK as I’m listening to track 10, there are several things I love about it. The first is the high energy sound, the second is the urgency of the situation as it pertains to the scene in the film where Jack is driving to catch the bus with the bomb on it. Track 11: “Rush Hour” is the scene that occurs just before Jack jumps onto the bus. As I’ve listened to this score over and over since La La Land Records sent it to me… What I can’t get over is how everything within the first three-quarters of this musical masterpiece is all upbeat up tempo music, or dark and gritty. That is such a rare thing these days. Even for movies like Speed. Usually right off the bat we are flung to a love theme or something, but not this score.
Right around the 4 min mark of Track 11 is where that main theme comes into play again, and then Mark Mancina gives us more electronic sounding cues. So when I said I can fall in love with shorter tracks more readily earlier, yeah Track 11 just threw that out the window. Because it’s 6:07 in time length, and I love every beat of it. Track 12: “Jack Jumps Onto Bus*” this was one of the most harebrained stunts a producer or director ever thought up, and I’m so glad that they did it.
So Track 15: “City Streets**” is where Annie has to get off the freeway and crashes through a lot of cars, because she can’t slow down or stop… or else BOOM! This is a very high energy track, that as I was watching the film, I barely noticed. The reason for this most likely is that during the scene the bus crashing into cars and stuff kinda drowns out the score. However listening to it on its own here, I really feel as if it could be a contender for one of it not my favorite track from the release. Track 17: “Helen Dies” might be the first really emotionally scarring sounding piece of the score. There is a deep hauntingly familiar sadness to this track. Mancina really shows off the emotions of the scene musically. now that being said JACK FUCKING TOLD MACK THAT THEY COULD ONLY MOVE THE DRIVER!!! The damn other cop should have never told Helen to come on out. So her death was really on that one cop’s conscience.
^See that image right there folks…? Do ya see it? Well that was the scene that made this movie’s buzz go OVER 9000!!! Track 18: “The Gap”, yeah I know it sounds like we are entering the mall right? But no this is where in the film the 105 freeway was unfinished, and the gap was at least 50 feet wide. Mancina’s track starts out with some awesome sounding horns, and some great drums. It ramps up the action, as the bus is going up the ramp. How ironic is that? Then as we continue through this musical journey there is a great moment in the middle of the track… right before the bus jumps The Gap… there’s some uplifting tones that I doubt I’ve ever heard before. They are so awesomely put together. After that Mancina actually gives a theme to the bus having hang time in the air as it makes the jump! As the track ends there’s this down drum beat at the end and more horns come in to signify that they cleared The Gap. After Track 18 w still have 14 tracks to talk about. I’m not sure I’m going to go through all fourteen tracks here. With Tracks 21 and 22 “Jack Leaves Bus / Jack On Dolly / Payne’s Picture*” and “The Dolly” once again from scenes I remember as if I hadn’t seen the film in 15 years. The music really brings me back into the film. Again that main dun dun dun theme Mancina crafted for the film is in The Dolly track. I just really enjoy listening to this score, because it’s so high-octane. There’s always something new that draws your listening in even more as you go through it. With Track 26: “The Rescue” this is the uptempo train rescue Jack is attempting. Now Jack getting on this train is not as epic as Wesley Snipes jumping across the tracks in money Train, but it’s still damn good. Track 29: “Fight On Train” is where Mark Mancina really kicks us in the ass with high-octane sounds. We hear in the music just how epic this fight between Jack and Howard Payne is. The tones are all unique and intriguing. As I’ve listened to this track multiple times it never ceases to amaze me how quickly it ends.
Total Disc Time: 57:27
Mark Mancina’s score for SPEED is superb in every way. The man knows how to captivate our ears with very intense film scoring. If you want to experience his score here, and if you were a child of the 90s why wouldn’t you??? Go get it from La La Land before it’s out of print again! There are two more things I need to mention, Track 31: “End Title” is the third emotional track on the set. The second was when Harry didn’t make it. Compared to the rest of the scores high action themes… if it weren’t so damn good this would almost seem out-of-place. However it fits so well. The other track, or final track that is on this set is Billy Idol’s “Speed” this was the end titles track after Mancina’s scored theme. Honestly I have only listened to this as I’m writing this. When I think of Billy Idol I think of White Wedding. Even now as I’m listening to this… it’s so 90s and not in a good way. I so love that they included it on the release, but I’ll never listen to it again. You can SPEED on over to LA LA Land Records directly to catch up with this score!