Many thanks to The Rap Sheet for tipping me off to this NPR piece on James Bond theme songs. David Arnold’s soundtrack album is now up on iTunes, but it doesn’t include the Chris Cornell theme song. The score is another tribute to John Barry, with lots of cues reminiscent of his classic Bond scores. That said, it doesn’t have the sheer energy or inventiveness of TOMORROW NEVER DIES or DIE ANOTHER DAY, by far Arnold’s best Bond scores. This one feels a tired and familiar, basically a a replay of his past scores, with Arnold resorting to old tricks and an over-reliance on the melody from Chris Cornell’s song. Arnold is the only composer besides John Barry to score more than one Bond film. But unlike Barry, who seemed to take a fresh approach with each film, Arnold is one-note. Compare John Barry’s GOLDFINGER with his score for, say, ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE. There’s a distinct character and sound to both films, even though they are both unmistakeably Barry scores. But now compare Arnold’s score for THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH with CASINO ROYALE. They might as well be the same film. I love how Arnold reinvigorated the Bond scores with TOMORROW NEVER DIES and evolved the Barry sound for a new generation…but perhaps it’s time to find a new composer. My vote goes to Michael Giacchino, composer of THE INCREDIBLES (the best Bond score ever for a non-Bond film), who did for MISSION IMPOSSIBLE III what Arnold did for the Bond franchise.
UPDATE 11/17/06: Now that I’ve seen the film, I’m even less impressed with the music. The score disappoints even in context. If you’re going to do THE BOURNE IDENTITY, then go with that kind of edgier, less symphonic score. Arnold also makes the mistake of using "You Know My Name" as a substitute for the James Bond Theme throughout the movie — the conceit being that Bond doesn’t really become Bond until the end. It doesn’t work. I missed hearing a rousing version of the Bond theme during key moments in the film that seemed to cry out for it… and "You Know My Name" doesn’t come close.