(Score from the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Composed By: John Murphy
Distributed By: Troll Court / Water Tower Music
Reviewed By: Melissa Minners
On August 6, 2021, Troll Court/ Water Tower Music released two albums featuring the music of James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad. The first album is The Suicide Squad Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, featuring songs heard in the film, what Gunn calls his “curated Mix Tape”. It features songs from Johnny Cash, Kansas, Louis Prima, Pixies, Jessie Reyez and more. The second album, The Suicide Squad (Score from the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) features musical score by John Murphy. It is this second album that I had an opportunity to preview.
First up, what is The Suicide Squad? Well, it is a group of prison bad guys handpicked by a well-placed intelligence operator to take on jobs no one in the military would be crazy enough to perform. If they survive, they may receive commuted sentences. Oh, and did I mention that this handpicked group has something most military members don’t have – superhuman powers!
In this standalone sequel to the 2016 film, Intelligence Officer Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) is back with two new groups of Belle Reve penitentiary inmates, known as Task Force X. In exchange for lighter sentences, these teams are sent to the South American island nation of Corto Maltese to destroy the Nazi-era laboratory that holds the Project Starfish experiment. But, just like the mission Waller set up for the original Suicide Squad, there are important facts that Waller “forgot” to reveal to the squad, such as just what Project Starfish is…and who helped create it.
Next, who is John Murphy? Born in Liverpool, England, John Murphy is a self-taught multi-instrumentalist and film composer who began his musical career in the 1980s, playing in punk bands. He began composing music for film in the 90s, beginning with his score for Leon the Pig Farmer. Since then, he has created musical score for such notable films as Snatch, 28 Days Later Sunshine, Miami Vice, The Last House on the Left, Kick-Ass and more.
In creating the musical score for The Suicide Squad, Murphy has pointed out that the film’s director wanted a score that would be “different: sometimes raw, sometimes epic, sometimes unexpected – but always with attitude. I’ve heard people say that a good score is one that you don’t notice. I think that’s bullocks. We wanted a score that would be noticed.” For my part, I happen to agree with Murphy. To me, a good score is one that enhances the visuals of the film, bringing the emotion or action of the scene to newer heights.
It all begins with So This Is the Famous Suicide Squad, a track that is action packed and raw, featuring electric guitar riffs (performed by Murphy himself) and slamming percussions. When it came to the more epic tracks…the emotional backstories, secret revelations and such, Murphy decided to write them using guitars and pedals, then converted them into orchestral tracks. As Murphy explains, “when we recorded the orchestra, I loved hearing all these blaring brass themes and soaring violins that started out as fuzz guitar riffs.” Some of the standout tracks featuring orchestral sound include Project Starfish, Harley Sings, Bloodsport’s Deal, and my favorites Ratcatcher’s Story and Ratism. In that last track, the orchestral score is such that you can actually picture Ratcatcher 2 orchestrating the movements of her rats like some sort of vermin maestro.
The Suicide Squad (Score From the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) is one of those albums that will please just about any movie score buff. There are the jamming, adrenaline pumping action sequence tracks that feature some truly awesome guitar riffs and drum beats. Then there are the quieter, more subtle orchestral tones like Waller’s Deal. And then you have those epic, emotionally dramatic orchestral moments looped into the action sound. This is an album that has it all and I have no doubt in my mind that John Murphy’s score does much to enhance the visuals of the film and what the characters are doing on screen. Well done, Mr. Murphy!