Music By Jeff Rona
Milan Records M236622
27 Tracks/Disc Time: 66:10
Phantom is the latest thriller by writer/director Todd Robinson which opens on March 1st starring Ed Harris, David Duchovny. Lance Henriksen, William Fichtner, Jason Beghe and Sean Patrick Flanery. The film revolves around Captain Demi (Harris) of a Cold War Soviet missile submarine who has secretly been suffering from seizures that are beginning to alter his perception of reality. Forced to leave his wife and daughter, he is rushed into a classified mission, where he is haunted by his past and challenged by a rogue KGB group led by Bruni (Duchovny), hell bent on seizing control of the ship’s nuclear missile which could possibly start a war. Demi discovers he’s been chosen for this mission in the belief he would fail and soon has the fate of the world and humanity as he knows it, within his own hands.
Director Todd Robinson isn’t a stranger to thrillers which include White Squall which was directed by Ridley Scott and based on the book “The Last Voyage of the Albatross” by Charles Gieg, Jr. and Felix Sutton and Lonely Hearts, which was based on the true story of his grandfather, Elmer C.Robinson’s manhunt for Martha Beck and Raymond Martinez Fernandez, a murderous pair known as the “Lonely Hearts Killers” who lured their victims through the personals, which wrote and directed. The music for those films featured the ecclectic and engaging works of Jeff Rona and now, Academy Award winner, Mychael Danna (Life of Pi) that really bring out the mood, suspense and energy that each film provided. For this film, Robinson went back to his roots and enlisted Rona, to provide the suspense and atmosphere that thriller set in a claustrophic setting could be enhanced by. When I first heard about this score I honestly didn’t know what to expect from it or make of it and surprisingly, it is a very solid effort and one of Rona’s finest in a long time. The music reminds me some of those submarine thillers such as Below, U-571, Das Boot, The Hunt For Red October and Crimson Tide, which the latter three are still the best in the genre. Rona uses The Calder Quartet for strings, electronics and percussion soloists that really do create at times an unsettling atmosphere without trying too hard to make the action happen.
The album opens with “The Early Dawn”, where Rona introduces us to the main theme of the score with almost an elegaic feeling and pulsing electronics that set the tone for the rest of the score and album. “This Is Not A Drill” heads into the action territory with its’ percussive and electronic effects that Rona interchanges throughout the score in later tracks (“Engage The Phantom”, “Torpedoes In The Water”, “Arming The Warhead”). Rona ratches up and creates some solid tension in tracks such as “Only Two Reasons”, “Sending A Signal”, “They Already Have The Codes”, and “If They So Much As Blink”, that aren’t too dissimilar to the other tracks and really are effective in what they’re meant to accomplish throughout the film. “I Wish He Knew” ends the score in a tranquil, elegaic form with its lush string work and keyboard solos giving some type of positive send off. “An Ocean Away” featuring Ranchel Fannan, is a nice ballad that really does add to Rona’s score in tone and works well after a tense hour of music. Milan Records’ album is a solid production and I really am surprised at how much I did end up liking the score and if there is one minor quibble with it and that is a bit too long to be really enjoyed on repeat listens. Otherwise, this is a surprisingly solid effort by Jeff Rona. Recommended, but with some reservations on the running time.