Peppermint – Soundtrack Review

Baz Greenland reviews Simon Franglen's score for action movie Peppermint

Peppermint sees Jennifer Garner revisiting her kick ass action days from hit TV show Alias, to play Riley North, a woman out for revenge after her husband and daughter are killed in an act of senseless violence. Unfortunately Peppermint has only had a limited release over here in the UK, so fans of Sidney Bristow, looking to see Garner back in action, might have to wait for a later disc release.

However, you can get a feel for the movie by checking out the soundtrack by Simon Franglen, which has been released by Lakeshore Records and is available to download now. Franglen is still quite new to movie composing, The Magnificent Seven being his first big Hollywood score, though he has been involved in cinematic music production from years as a music arranger, producer, and programmer, on everything from Spectre to Avatar and The Amazing Spider-Man.

Listening to Franglen’s Peppermint score, there is no denying that it sounds like every action movie you’ve ever listened to. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; there are crowd-pleasing thundering beats and rock guitar riffs, emotional piano solos and frenzied string movements. Even though I haven’t seen the film I can imagine that Franglen has perfectly captured all the right action and emotional beats.

At the same time, its familiarity means that it doesn’t offer anything truly original either. The strong use of rock guitar also dates the score somewhat; you could imagine Franglen’s score perfectly accompanying an action movie of the 80s or 90s. It’s rather fun though, from the moody, dramatic opening of the first track ‘Dark Angel’, to the sixth track ‘These Men Killed My Family’, with the mix of frenzied chords and synths and strained strings that bleed into the rock guitar riffs. Franglen certainly manages to pack atmosphere and tension along with the cheese.

It’s also a soundtrack that improves as it progresses. Franglen makes effective use of piano, strings, heavy percussion and electronic synth to deliver some atmospheric pieces that are emotive and evocative to listen to but largely feel forgettable when they have finished. Aside from the aforementioned ‘These Men Killed My Family’ it is only the fourth track ‘Drive By Shooting’, and the seventh ‘Riley Resurfaces’ with its sounds of broken glass and electronic beats, that stand out as having any real impact in the first half.

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However things pick up in the second half, starting with the thirteenth track ‘Carjack’. It has a terrific rock guitar opening. It certainly stands out from the rest, flitting between grim, quieter moments and bold, relentless synth beats and haunting chords: a track that might not have been out of place on Garner’s Alias. The passion and drama continues with the next track ‘Attack On Garcia’s Compound’ which has a very 80s or 90s feel with its gritty, dark industrial beats and tense, eerie haunting chords.The rising string moments add a sense of passion amid the heavy rock guitar riffs.

The sixteenth track ‘Good Evening Peg’ is another strong entry. It kicks off with a haunting string movement and simple guitar riff that is simple and effective. The slow synth score adds drama and tension, the frenzied strings creating a sense of mystery, before delivering a dramatic beautiful string movement, mixed with thundering percussion. The following track ‘You have To Wake Up Now’ has a simple, haunting piano solo, the rising strings adding real emotion. The eerie strings against the ticking clock motif are very effective. Track 19, ‘Maria Held Hostage’ is equally strong; the fast, frenzied strings really amp up the tension and drama. This track builds and builds before ending on a sombre, strained strings and beautiful moment of reflection to finish.

The final two instrumental pieces are just as fun and dramatic. ‘You Hit Like A Girl’ has a gritty, industrial feel, mixing heavy rock guitar riffs amid slower, ominous chords, before really letting loose with a fun, powerful rock guitar, feathered strings and bold, crashing chords. Finally, track 21 ‘Let Me Die’ calms things down with a sombre, emotional piano solo and slow, drawn out strings full of emotional grit, ending on a awesome, spine-tingling dramatic string movement and thundering percussion. It certainly wraps things up by delivering a wow moment.

Franglen wraps things up with end credits track ‘Push Me’ featuring the rock vocals of Geno Lenardo. The song is perhaps too heavy to be mainstream but probably too soft to be appreciated by hard rock lovers. With the rock guitar riffs it’s a fun end to the soundtrack.

Simon Franglen’s score for Peppermint doesn’t offer anything new to the action movie genre of music but it is fun and bold, with flair and atmosphere that sets out to do exactly what it achieves. It’s just a shame that, in isolation, there isn’t really anything that lingers with the listener after it has finished.

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