Last Passenger

Composed By: Liam Bates

Distributed by: MovieScore Media/Kronos Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                In the British thriller Last Passenger, Dougray Scott is Lewis Shaler, a doctor and single father heading home with his son (Joshua Kaynama) on a late night train.  What should ordinarily be a routine ride starts off interestingly enough when Shaler's son accidentally causes a female passenger (Kara Tointon) to spill coffee on her coat.  Things seem to be going well for Shaler until he notices some strange interactions on the train.  Things become more foreboding when Shaler realizes that the train guard has disappeared...and so have the brakes.

                The musical score of Last Passenger was created by Ireland-based British composer, orchestrator and conductor Liam Bates.  Studying composition with Giles Swayne and Susan Bradshaw and conducting with Norman Del Mar and Albert Rosen, Bates won the John McCabe prize for his composition Seven Last Words and a Promax World Gold Award for his orchestral work Part of Life and took up a six month conductor position with the Teatrul National Opereta, Bucharest.  Film composing credits include numerous film shorts and full features such as Ghostwood and Earthbound.

                One of the things I noticed as soon as I began to listen to the Last Passenger Soundtrack is that the score was reminiscent of those of science fiction and action films of my youth.  I instantly thought of films like Star Wars, the original Planet of the Apes movies and others containing orchestral sound rather than electric, electronic or ambient elements.  It would seem that Bates achieved just what Director Omid Nooshin was looking for when he asked for an "unrepentantly musical and expressive, a throwback to a bygone era of thrillers which inspired my movie in the first place." 

                Fast-paced strings offer up a sense of urgency.  Woodwinds and horns denote moments of action and despair.  Liam Bates proves that you don't always need sound effects to effectively tell the tale of a film via the film's score.  All you need is someone well-trained in the effective use of orchestral sound to imbue the listener with the exact emotions that the main characters are feeling throughout the film, heightening the movie watching experience.  Liam Bates created a throwback score that perfectly defines the action and intense drama of Last Passenger.  For his efforts in foregoing modern technology (computer enhanced sound, etc.), he should be well applauded.


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