Barely Lethal

Musical Score By: Mateo Messina

Distributed by: Lakeshore Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                In the action comedy, Barely Lethal, Hailee Steinfeld is Megan, a teenage orphan who can only remember one home in her life, that of Prescott, a special ops training school.  Tasked with capturing dangerous arms dealer Victoria Knox (Jessica Alba), Megan discovers all that she was missing while at Prescott.  Yearning for a normal life, she fakes her own death, enrolling as an exchange student in a typical American high school.  But Megan is about to learn that a typical day at high school can be a lot more difficult than espionage.

                The musical score of Barely Lethal was created by Grammy-winning composer Mateo Messina.  Learning to play the piano at three, Messina was drawn to music at an early age.  By the age of twenty-three, Messina premiered his first symphony.  He has written seventeen symphonies, but confesses to a love for composing for television and film because it’s “like going to a different summer camp six to eight times every year. Each has its own style, its own discipline, shape, tone, characters, etc. You collaborate and move a mountain with a group of inspired people. It’s a challenge, and it is a blast.”  Some of Mateo Messina’s works include Juno, Butter, Young Adult, Life Happens, From the Rough, Crossbones, Growing Up Fisher, Fairly Legal, Perfect Couples and Casual

                The Barely Lethal Soundtrack is quite synth heavy, but character/locale themes like Victoria Knox, Megan & Roger Suite, Newton Sweet and True Liz are less electronic and more acoustic-based.  Action scenes like Fight Club, Battle Axe, Car Chase and more feature intense electronic sound with synths, electric guitars and fast-paced percussion, but your more idyllic high school scenes tend to contain a bit less intensity and more humor.  According to the composer, “The viewer begins this film in an intense world of spies, action, training, drama, and just a lot of fighting with fists, feet, and guns…But then we transition to an entire new world, the small Anywhere American town of Newton. Despite the difference, this mundane little town is the greatest place in the world to Megan. The score had to reflect the town’s small-time charm without feeling like too much of a disconnect from the rest of the world. While I switched up the style and instrumentation dramatically, I made sure there were hints of our theme inside it melodically so viewers would always be a connected to the whole story just as Megan is.”

                I had a great deal of fun listening to the Barely Lethal Soundtrack.  It’s fast-paced and enjoyable.  Being a comedy that is set in an action format, Mateo Messina had to create an action score that didn’t take itself too seriously and he did just that.  This is a fun score and well-worth a listen.


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