The Bourne Legacy (2012) – James Newton Howard

When I first learned that James Newton Howard was to be composing the score, I was actually a little bit worried – not because of my lack of faith in Newton Howard as a composer, but because it’s such an opposite film from the kinds he normally composes for. When I think Newton Howard, I think beautiful, flowing melodies, rich orchestra, and perhaps a warm brass fanfare or two…I certainly don’t think “action film”. John Powell composed the scores for the original Bourne trilogy, so I was surprised that he didn’t return. Despite my reservations, however, Newton Howard did a splendid job.

 I have two favorite things about this album: 1) the opening track, “Legacy”, contains the main theme for Bourne as heard in the opening track of The Bourne Identity‘s score, “Main Titles”; 2) the closing track is an updated version of Moby’s “Extreme Ways”, featuring a more orchestral accompaniment and the subtitle “Bourne’s Legacy”. “Extreme Ways” played in the end credits of all three Matt Damon Bourne films, so it’s nice to see it return.

Aside from those two tracks, much of this score is a lot more…”much-ier” than John Powell’s original scores. Newton Howard uses some of the same electronic orchestration, but he combines it with an orchestra in a way that is consistently action-packed and suspenseful. Whereas much of The Bourne Identity‘s score was a bit minimal, The Bourne Legacy‘s score features tracks like “Drone”, “High Powered Rifle”, and “Magsaysay Suite” that are much bigger and decidedly not minimal.

That’s not to say that Newton Howard sacrifices the kind of music I know him for in favor of this new, aggressive style. In fact, his traditional style of music is also featured throughout; in “You Fell in Love”, we hear a somber melody that starts dramatically in the low string part before the high strings take over and just about break your heart. Another track, “Aftermath”, opens with long, sustained strings that seem to emulate great loss or tragedy. This builds into a strong, full string orchestra that hints at a mission unfinished and more to come.

One thing I miss from The Bourne Legacy‘s score, though, is a consistent motif that is heard throughout the film that lets the audience know that something is either happening or about to happen. In Powell’s original score, you can hear what I’m talking about in the track “At the Bank”; this motif is catchy, prominent, and featured throughout, and it trains the audience to know that something awesome is going on when you hear it. There’s nothing like that (that I’ve noticed) in Newton Howard’s score, unfortunately.

Despite that small complaint, I’m overall pretty pleased with The Bourne Legacy‘s score. It keeps you sitting on the edge of your seat – or, if you’re standing, on your toes – throughout, and it supplies plenty of both compelling action and emotion, showing that this job is not just about killing people…it’s about finding who you are and doing something about it. James Newton Howard’s deviation from his normal style is refreshing and opens plenty of doors for both his career and for the continuation of the Bourne film series. This score definitely has me even more excited to see Jeremy Renner in the new film next week!

Rating: 4 (out of 5)

1. “Legacy”   2:40
2. “Drone”   4:15
3. “NRAG”   0:59
4. “You Fell in Love”   1:42
5. “Program Shutdown”   3:00
6. “Over the Mountain”   0:51
7. “High Powered Rifle”   2:50
8. “They’re All Dead”   2:48
9. “Manila Lab”   2:40
10. “Wolves/Sic Ric”   2:19
11. “Doctor of What?”   4:28
12. “Aaron in Chicago”   1:32
13. “Wolf Attack”   2:57
14. “Chem Talk”   1:35
15. “Flight 167”   3:30
16. “Aaron Run!”   1:08
17. “You Belong Here”   1:17
18. “Cognitive Degrade”   2:49
19. “17 Hour Head Start”   3:51
20. “Viralled Out”   0:58
21. “You’re Doing Fine”   1:18
22. “Simon Ross”   1:37
23. “LARX Tarmac”   1:45
24. “Magsaysay Suite”   3:04
25. “Aftermath”   2:49
26. “Extreme Ways (Bourne’s Legacy)” (Moby) 4:51

Total Length: app. 64 min.

iTunes Album Link


P.S. – Read my review of the film here!


3 responses to “The Bourne Legacy (2012) – James Newton Howard

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