Composer John Debney has long been a favourite of Robert Rodriguez, so when his production company, TroubleMaker Studios, was set to press forth with the reboot of the Predator franchise, under the direction of Nimród Antal, he seemed like the ideal choice to compose the score. Aside from his strong working relationship with Rodriguez, Debney has a strong and varied body of work that shows he can handle action and dark material.
From the oppressive opening of this reboot of the franchise, it was clear that music would play a huge part in Predators. It was so high in the mix in the opening that it was very unsettling and intense experience, which is how it remained through most the film. That’s a huge part of why I enjoyed the film as much as I did.
Debney has expertly crafted a score that used a combination of interesting rhythms and sounds to elicit tension and create the air of hostility and menace that was required to keep the audience on edge.
Like the film itself, Debney’s score borrows heavily from the other films in the franchise by taking themes and integrating them into his own work. This is unmistakably Predator, but with a new spin on it. For me, this is a large part of why I think this is such an effective score and, in many ways, it’s better than Alan Silvestri’s scores for the original movies. I know that could be deemed as sacrilege by some, but that’s my feeling, having experienced it in the film and having the benefit of listening to it numerous times away from the film.
I’m a huge fan of Silvestri and his previous scores, but Debney’s score here takes the best part of Silvestri’s scores for Predator and Predator 2 and gives them a reboot with his own rock sensibilities, which finds him layering dark guitar parts and updated rhythms that lean more towards techno than the Latin beats favoured in the original.
There are large parts of the original themes present, with nearly half of the score utilising elements of Silvestri’s compositions, but Debney does enough here to stamp his own identity on the piece and create a hugely effective action score in the process.
It’s not just the influences of the works of Silvestri that can be heard here. There are passages reminiscent of Jerry Goldsmith and James Horner’s scores in the Alien franchise, as well as a track that shares similarities to Horner’s score for Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan.
Debney clearly understands what components make up a hugely effective sci-fi action score and has utilised them perfectly and acknowledged the sources in his work here. (He acknowledges the influence of Silvestri and Goldsmith in the liner notes of the CD, but there’s an unmistakable Horner influence here.)
Like the film, the score isn’t without its faults, but it’s still a hugely enjoyable and effective entry to the franchise. As such, I can see no reason why fans of the series would be disappointed with Debney’s efforts here. He has faithfully utilised and reinvented all of the key themes from the original Silvestri-composed scores for the original films and his original compositions stay true to the mood and style of the franchise.
Add to that fact that Silvestri’s scores aren’t widely available currently and this is the best option for anyone who wants to listen to the classic themes.
The only downside for me is that I’m not sure that I’ll return to listen to this too much in the future, as it’s not as effective as a standalone listen. But as an entry to the series in the context of the film, it’s a very strong piece of work, indeed.
Predators soundtrack is out now and available from the Den Of Geek Store.