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JAMES HORNER FILM MUSIC | August 28, 2014 |

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CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER: THE EXTRAS IN THE LINE OF FIRE

CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER: THE EXTRAS IN THE LINE OF FIRE
Jean-Baptiste Martin
Intrada's release of Clear And Present Danger is a true surprise. As the core content of the score was on the Milan soundtrack album released the same year as the film (1994), we never thought that a complete score album would pop up any time soon. After the various releases in 2009 of Walt Disney Pictures soundtracks (Something Wicked This Way Comes, Honey I Shrunk The Kids, Natty Gann) and of the long-awaited In Country a few months ago, Intrada confirms its affection towards James Horner with the creation of this double CD album for Clear And Present Danger.
As Douglas Fake explains it in the liner notes, this release is justified by cues of the last part of the film (after Second Hand Copter) that were not included in the Milan album. We have to admit that one of them, Woodroom/Finale, which corresponds to the helicopter rescue scene, is really worth it. But do we have to limit the interest of this new album to this sole track? To answer that, let us have a closer look at the other extras on the two discs.
 
A simple look at the track list of the 1994 album is enough to realize that only the major steps of the adaptation of Tom Clancy's fiction were presented musically. A complete listen to James Horner's score makes it possible to restitute the gradual narration of the story.
This new album first restores the implement of the story with seven new minutes now separating the opening title from the stimulating Operation Reciprocity. This introduction consolidates the dark atmosphere, typical of Tom Clancy's techno-thrillers. The composer reuses some ideas he had explored in the previous episode (Patriot Games) to describe the American intelligence community.
The Celtic elements related to the IRA in the 1992 film, such as Tony Hinnigan's tin whistle and Maggie Boyle's voice, make way for Kazu Matsui's flute. The latter instrument gives up its Japanese origins to simply but efficiently evoke South America's ethnic flutes, which will follow the actions involving the Colombian drug cartels. This evocation appears in President's Mission – a cue that extends the orchestral colors of the first one – and will return in Cortez Arrives in the US with piano notes as usually heard in the thrillers of the period (Class Action, Unlawful Entry). This piano, following the interested relationship between corrupted Colombian colonel Felix Cortez and FBI secretary Moira Wolfson, will return in Moira's Fatal Phone Call.
 
 
Jack's New Office is reminiscent of Patriot Games (Putting The Pieces Together, Electronic Battlefield), so as to illustrate the rather unhappy ambiance when Jack Ryan replaces his ill friend James Greer as Assistant Director of Intelligence. We will hear this cold atmosphere later in the already known Looking For Clues and its reprise in the Extras of the second disc.
The plot is completed with disgraceful synth sounds in Greer Signs Memo and Jack Briefs FBI President, creating a worrying atmosphere, due to the shenanigans committed behind Jack Ryan's back.
 
Do not count on the four new tracks between Operation Reciprocity and Ambush to modify the course of this first CD so far. The trio Blow Up Narcotics Plane/Try Lindo Brand/Fire In The Hole continues to illustrate the action focused on the drug dealer in Colombia, with synths and flute. The mission is accomplished in the film. It makes the change of scenery easier, perfectly fits the South American exotic background and actively participates in the tension of some situations (Laser-Guided Missile, Escobedo's New Friend) but we have to admit that in an isolated listen this aspect of the score is the least interesting. We cannot blame the composer who merely had fourteen days to score the film.
 
 
Casket Arrival does not appear fully in the film. Like Chavez Sees Prisoners on the second disc, it comes down to a tense synth layer and a few notes: a motif that will return in Greer's Last Hospital and the menacing four-note horn motif of the first cue (Main Title/Clear And Present Danger) under an almost imperceptible ghostly form. The second part of the cue, which initially corresponded to the arrival of the caskets after the ambush in Colombia was replaced in the film by the Largo of the 9th Symphony of the New World (Dvořák).
 
Cortez Is Watched and Greer's Last Hospital, the antepenultimate and penultimate tracks of the first CD, develop the same six-note motif, symbolizing corruption within the President's office. Cortez Is Watched is very dark as it accompanies the negotiations between Colonel Cortez and National Security Adviser, James Cutter. In the second cue the motif is cold as Jack Ryan visits his dying friend Jim Greer for the last time.
 
 
The second disc offers previously released tracks, such as Greer's Funeral/Betrayal, the Escobedo's New Friend parts 1 and 3 and Second Hand Copter.
The new features are not outdone as Cortez Kills Escobedo starts ten continuous minutes of never before released lively action music, in the vein of music of the late '90s (The Mask Of Zorro, Mighty Joe Young). Woodroom/Finale is the jewel of this finale. All the ingredients of the ideal dessert are there: a few seconds of suspense, an effective rhythmic and brassy fight, a heroic theme reminiscent of the conclusive melodic outburst in Thunderheart, a musical suspension that is the worthy successor of Bishop's Countdown (Aliens) and finally a typically hornerian soothing conclusion based on the repetition of the same notes by different instruments. It would be exaggerated to say that this tremendous cue justifies the purchase of this album alone, but know that it belongs to the very best action cues of the composer.
 
 
This release by Intrada, perfectly produced, has the advantage of presenting the completeness of the musical thoughts of the composer in a chronological order. The split between the two discs is ideally done after Deleting The Evidence, a catchy cue that prolongs the wonderful Sneakers. The information on the liner notes are comprehensive and the sound reveals all the details of the music. If you do not possess the 1994 album, besides the numerous unreleased cues you will have the opportunity to enjoy a superb patriotic theme and exciting cues like Operation Reciprocity, Second Hand Copter or Ambush. Another great gift by Intrada.
 
Many thanks to Regina Fake.

This post is also available in: French