The Package

James Newton Howard

" The first signs of James Newton Howard's orchestral style "

Written by Thomas Glorieux - Review of the limited release

Director Andrew Davis is best known for The Fugitive and less known for The Package, but there's a reason for that. The Package is simply not THAT good. But The Fugitive does owe a thanks to The Package, considering it's this one that started a winning formula between composer James Newton Howard and director Andrew Davis. One that led to A Perfect Murder in 1998 as well. For The Package, James was still going through his synthesizer period, a sound that returned in a lot of his old scores. But where the synths sounded extremely dated in the earliest works of Howard, somehow The Package began to make it sound ... all right.

Plus, there's a big bonus side to the soundtrack of The Package, namely the orchestral additional approach. In various tracks, you hear strong orchestral music, powerful stuff that occasionally links its sound to the best in the business (John Williams, Basil Poledouris, Michael Kamen). This makes The Package more than worth it for a Newton Howard fan, considering he'll digest the synthesizer stuff with it without much hesitation.

This makes the opening track "Main Title / Henke Arrest / The Chateau" already a keeper. At first it's typical Newton Howard brooding music, but the sudden shift in tone does depict an angrier touch in style, showing at times true John Williams maneuvers that the fan will definitely appreciate. This style doesn't return often, definitely not once the synthesizers take over. As said, these electronics begin to deliver a smile on your face, and deliver brooding suspense in "The Plot / Carlson Killing" and approachable underscore in the upcoming tracks. It's only in moments that the orchestra suddenly appears, but these moments do heighten the grip and the power of the cues. The synthesized rhythm doesn't become obsolete thereby in "Police Chase Eileen in Garage" or "The Shoot Out", but it's a different taste to swallow.

In fact the synthesizer moments do unleash a smile on your face, considering I often thought of Robocop once I heard them in tracks 2, 13 and 14. But The Package does deliver its finest moments once it goes orchestral. The "Neo-Nazi Demonstration" delivers typical Newton Howard suspense, fueled by Poledouris strings around 2.20 (right out of Starship Troopers), "Eileen Answers Phone / Chase Part 1 / Chase Part 2" delivers a mixed bag of synth music and orchestral action suspense (downright enjoyable orchestral action suspense that has again links to Poledouris his action music) and the Michael Kamen action sounding "Chase Finale - Part 1 / Chase Finale - Part 2" makes it definitely the finest action track of them all. The final track even downright nails it with the fanfare at the end.

In general The Package is at times exciting to listen, overall thoroughly enjoyable and sometimes even downright nostalgic. The synthesizer moments are more than approachable, and JNH's orchestral style shares resemblances to the best in the business. And even though it can't make it better, there's a quality surrounding The Package that makes it definitely interesting to listen to. A returning horn motif works as main theme (the one that opens "You're A Dead Man, Sergeant / End Credits"), showing that there are Fugitive moments in The Package. Clarifying for us very easily why James Newton Howard was asked back for Davis his blockbuster effort of 1993.

Favorite Moment - Chase Finale - Part 1 / Chase Finale - Part 2 (1.00 - 1.54)
You gotta love those Michael Kamen action moments (or temptrack love) in a James Newton Howard score

Track Listing

1. Main Title / Henke Arrest / The Chateau (4.52)
2. The Plot / Carlson Killing (3.47)
3. House Arrest (0.56)
4. Computer Alert (Part 1) / Computer Alert (Part 2) (3.36)
5. Gallagher Escapes House Arrest (1.38)
6. Police Chase Eileen in Garage (2.37)
7. Richards Follows Gallagher / The Brass Arrives (2.33)
8. Neo-Nazi Demonstration (3.39)
9. The Shoot Out (1.31)
10. Gallagher to Eileen & Security Montage / Gallagher Taken Down Stairs (1.55)
11. Boyette Leaves Safehouse (1.20)
12. Johnny Escapes Killer (1.45)
13. Eileen Answers Phone / Chase Part 1 / Chase Part 2 (7.29)
14. Chase Part 3 (3.04)
15. Chase Finale - Part 1 / Chase Finale - Part 2 (4.19) Excellent track
16. You're A Dead Man, Sergeant / End Credits (5.31) Excellent track

Total Length: 50.32
(click to rate this score)  
(total of 5 votes - average 3.7/5)

Released by

Prometheus PCR 516 (limited release 2003)

Conducted by

Marty Paich

Orchestrations by

Bruce Babcock, Chris Boardman, Brad Dechter & Marty Paich