Saturday, April 12, 2014

Score of the Month - Limitless (2011) by Paul Leonard-Morgan

JohnnyTwoToes revisits what was one of 2011's best film scores

2011 and 2012 brought two great scores from the BAFTA winning newcomer Scottish film score composer Paul Leonard-Morgan; 2011's Limitless and Dredd in 2012. Both feature Morgan with a mostly synthesized score and both films were inherently terrific films, as well, enhanced by his brilliant scores. Limitless with its sci-fi overtones was by far one of the best new scores by a new composer I have ever heard. 

For those who haven't seen it yet, Limitless tells the story of a writer (Bradley Cooper) with a bad case of writer's block who discovers a magic pill that he can take that will unlock all of his brain's power and help him accomplish incredible feats. Only problem is when you crash you really crash and it is not long before all of the wrong people want what Eddie (Cooper) has. 

The film was clever and intriguing and Morgan's score is an energetic and toe tapping blend of percussion and synths. At about 55 minutes of music, it is safe to say that this has most of the music actually used in the film. Starting out with 'Opening' where Eddie stands precariously on a ledge of his New York City apartment wondering how he got to this point, Morgan uses a wonderful theme that he sprinkles throughout the score. It is a six or seven note motif used in brilliant form for not just 'Opening' but my personal favorite tracks with 'Trading Up', 'Trashed Hotel', 'Hiring Eddie' and 'Happy Pills' where he infuses an array of electronics and synthesized percussion. If you are exercising, these are tracks to jam to. 

'Psyched' starts with Eddie's frustration with his writer's block until he meets up with Vernon who gives him the pills. 'Eddie Knows What To Do' is a beautifully floating track as Eddie starts to feel the power of the pills take effect and his brain starts to burst out with ideas. It continues with 'Trippy' as the power of the pills seem to bring back even the most minute memories even from his college days. 'I Still Love You' is another sublime track as Eddie tries to patch things up with his girlfriend, Lindy (Abbie Cornish). She agrees to give him a second chance. 

'Limitless' is the title track that shows Eddie on the fast track making friends in all the right places in finance and the stock market and 'Coming Up' continues with Eddie's success, but Eddie starts to see there is something wrong as he is almost out of pills. He also garners the attention of a hot babe who later turns up dead, a Russian loan shark and a man referred to as Tancoat and the music turns to the staccato and pulse pounding percussion as Eddie is chased by the loan shark and Tancoat. For Eddie, though there is no stopping him; onward and upward. 

'The Walk Home' is a nice but short track that is when Eddie starts to realize he is coming down and 'Down The Hatch' continues with the down side of the addiction. The remainder of the album has a nice mix of hard pulsating and driving themes for 'Escaping Tancoat' and 'Lindy Chase' and the softer and more sublime tracks especially 'Van Loon', the billionaire business man who is dangerous to Eddie in ways Eddie has yet to learn and 'Lindy Leaves Eddie' when Lindy fears her own life is now in danger. 'Phone Tap' is a chilling track as the Eddie realizes the walls have not only sprouted ears but they are closing in on him, as well. 

There is not one track that is wrong on this album. It is a happy and bouncy score that works on all levels. Be it soft or strong, pop or new wave, Limitless is an engrossing score and it will pull you in as will the film. Up until this point, I had never heard music by Paul Leonard-Morgan and although he had scored a few films (mostly shorts and Scottish documentaries), he had almost exclusively scored television shows most notably the British show, MI-5 also known as Spooks (which is available and highly recommended from Amazon and iTunes). Now he is on the fast track with two knockout scores for two of their respective year's films for Dredd and Limitless. Both are available from Amazon and iTunes for download. Morgan's most recent release is the John Cusack CIA action Thriller - The Numbers Station (2013). Know more on his official website.


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