Defendor (Original Motion Picture Score)

Defendor (Original Motion Picture Score)

In a glut of overwrought Hollywood superhero epics, the protagonist of writer/actor Woody Harrelson’s comic, modestly budgeted Defendor distinguishes himself by little more than his humanity — for better or worse. Toronto-based composer John Rowley performs a shrewd balancing act in scoring the film, conjuring a witty, electronics-suffused soundtrack that’s part tribute, part parody, yet as introspective and humane as its title character. One of Rowley’s key musical touchstones throughout is the Ennio Morricone of Sergio Leone’s Dollar trilogy renown. Yet the composer’s subtle use of what have long since become over-parodied Spaghetti Western clichés — insistently chiming church bell, ethereal solo whistle (digitally conjured here), mournful trumpet, twanging strings — are woven so deftly into the overall score that they seem virtually reborn. It’s a soundtrack that ultimately triumphs by playing it tight and cannily close to the vest, a sharp contrast to a genre virtually drowning in extroverted musical bombast.

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