Runaway Train

Trevor Jones

" sufficient for its movie "

Written by Thomas Glorieux - Review of the limited release

Runaway Train is a well considered critical escape movie in which Manny (John Voight) and Buck (Eric Roberts) escape with a train that's out of control. When discovering this, people have to decide whether 3 lives on board are more important than a runaway train, while onboard sanity is sometimes more important than freedom. Altogether, it's a well directed film that goes deeper than the typical escape movie. It isn't than also a shock to discover that both the leads received an Oscar nomination in the time of its release. Joining the route of the Runaway Train was composer Trevor Jones, who aided the escape with a typical (at that time) electronic supportive score.

Released in 1985 by Milan Records, label La-La Land thought it was wise to let people rediscover its cool premise through a deluxe edition, featuring both the typical album version (non chronological) and the in order sequenced film version. Having basically the same music in general, it is up you to decide whether order counts over a more comprehensive listening experience.

If you thought Labyrinth was cheap and poor due to its electronics and synthesizers, you won't find Runaway Train better whatsoever. Drained in the electronic bouncy route of the 80's, the score is definitely sufficient for its movie, even giving the audience a taste of nostalgia after all this time. Yet while totally effective and even perfectly fitting for the movie, the album isn't one that can compete with anything of Trevor Jones' recent repertoire.

I'm usually a film order kind of guy, but the problem here is that everything's glued together in one gigantic track that it doesn't give you the feeling of reflective moments delivering counterweight against the suspenseful dangerous moments the trio is facing on board, something the movie did more than successfully in the end. So that means for some, the opening tracks of the Runaway Train will suffice the most.

The first sign of the train in the film is of utmost importance, not only because the viewer hears for the first time an actual statement of movie music, it also sounds damn cool. So the statement in "Jailbreak" will definitely be remembered. The moody "Moving On" states for the first time the actual train theme (alongside echoing effects that mimic the train's sounds) while the on edge rhythmic electronics in "Clear the Tracks" is fitting enough for the scene.

The reflective moments are nice as well. In "Reflections" it is the shakuhachi that does a good enough job in mimicking the difficult to appreciate character of Manny, while the solo vocal in "Past, Present - Future" does it the same way, only this time around the train theme. The actual highlight of the score and movie is most definitely the end, in which Vivaldi's Gloria in D Major is used to most profound effect. The original version or the arranged version (containing extra use of shakuhachi) offer both a rare sympathy for Manny, one which is felt most definitely in the final moments of the film.

The version as heard in the film doesn't differ much from what you've heard in the Album version, the only notable thing is: it's in the order as it appeared in the film. So the first track now shows the cool opening of "Jailbreak" while "Boarding the Train / The Runaway Sets Off" shows you the moody electronics aping the building pace of the train around the actual main theme.

The biggest track is 11 minutes long and carries a track title I don't even want to mention, but during those 11 minutes you encounter both the reflective moments as the suspenseful encounters with another train. It is basically the same music you've encountered separated from one another, and the pauses in the film during this order suited the music better, than placed together after one another.

So, in the end there was already a good enough album on the market, despite it being out of print. This makes La-La Land's decision to re introduce it to the populas albeit a little more understandable. The extra placing of the tracks in order alongside a couple of bonus tracks was just a way to sweeten the deal. It is altogether an album I enjoyed more in the actual context of the movie than on disc, but it does have its strength on CD nonetheless. Yet I didn't say out loud though that you have to go out and buy a Runaway Train now.


The Score (Original Album Version)
1. Jailbreak! (2.00)
2. Moving On (3.45)
3. Destination Unknown (2.20)
4. Clear the Tracks! (4.04)
5. Reflections (3.02)
6. Runaway Train (4.47)
7. Collision Course (2.21)
8. Past, Present - Future? (2.26)
9. Red for Danger (3.10)
10. End of the Line (4.00)
11. Gloria in D Major - Et in Terra Pax +* (Album Version) (6.53) Excellent track

The Score (Film Version)
12. And the Dogs in the Yard / Knife in Hand / Assassin Dies / First Sight of the Train (1.34)
13. Boarding the Train / The Runaway Sets Off (3.24)
14. I Wish I Could / Runaway Crashes with Eastbound 12 / Jordan Reverses the Points / Slap your Fat Diesel / You've Just Saved 3 Lives / Helicopter Sets off in Pursuit / The Chase (11.11)
15. The Race to the Front Part 1 / The Race to the Front Part 2 / Finale (5.49)
16. Gloria in D Major - Et in Terra Pax +* (Film Version) (6.53) Excellent track

Bonus Tracks
17. The Yellow Rose of Texas (3.05)
18. Gloria in D Major - Et in Terra Pax +** (Alternate Film Version) (6.53)

* Arranged by Aldredo Casella
** Arranged by Trevor Jiones
+ Composed by Antonio Vivaldi

Total Length: 77.41
(click to rate this score)  
(total of 23 votes - average 3.57/5)

Released by

La-La Land Records LLLCD 1095 (limited release 2009)

Conducted by

Trevor Jones