How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Payback is a well-crafted, stylish and way-too violent neo-noir update of John Boorman's 1967 noir classic, Point Blank. For its equally crafty and stylish score, composer Chris Boardman provides a "throwback" to the in-again sound of 1970s cop shows and Blaxploitation pictures. Boardman, composer of Bordello of Blood, many TV films and orchestrator on a vast array of scores including The Game, Waterworld and Pochahontas, really nails the sound here. And his music contributes a great deal to the fun of watching the bloody film.
Unfortunately, the Payback soundtrack includes only four of Boardman's cues. These are preceded by ironic lounge-pop hits like Dean Martin's "Ain't That A Kick In The Head," Vic Damone's "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes," James Brown's "It's A Man's, Man's Man's World" and Low Rawls' "If I Had My Life To Live Over."
Much about Boardman's score is intentionally reminiscent of cinema and TV of the past (which suits the film's revenge theme well). The "Main Title," recalls David Shire's cunning theme to The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974). "Lynn's Habit" suggests a Kojack moment or the possibility of what might happen if Ennio Morricone scored Dirty Harry instead of Lalo Schifrin. "Porter Croaks Carter" provides an Enter the Dragon variation (the way the James Taylor Quartet would consider it) and "Warehouse/Finale" offers a sort of horror-film alternative to the main theme, complete with wah-wah guitar.
Too many of Boardman's cooler cues are missing here (also missing are the Ramsey Lewis and James Brown songs used to promote the film in TV ads). Still, "that 70s style" of scoring which Boardman perfects here, deserves greater respect for the effective way electric instruments and percussion can work together to enhance the action on the screen. Maybe Payback is the start of the retribution.
Songs:Ain't That A Kick In The Head (Dean Martin); It's A Man's, Man's Man's World (James Brown); The Thrill is Gone (B.B. King); Smoke Gets In Your Eyes (Vic Damone); If I Had My Life To Live Over (Lou Rawls); Luck Be A Lady (Michael Civisca); You're Nobody Till Somebody Loves You (Dean Martin); Main Title; Lynn's Habit; Porter Croaks Carter; Warehouse/Finale.