Dominic Lewis on his gonzo concept-album score to Bullet Train

Dominic Lewis, Bullet Train

Welcome to Right on Cue, the podcast where we interview film, TV, and video game composers about the origins and nuances of their latest works and select commentaries from some of the score’s most important tracks.

What do you get when you throw Brad Pitt onto a fast-moving train with a bunch of eclectic assassins, an army of yakuza, and an arch sense of humor? Turns out you get Bullet Train, the latest high-concept action thriller from John Wick co-director David Leitch. Simply put, it’s a gonzo mishmash of action influences, from anime to Jackie Chan to, well, John Wick, with a storytelling style as anarchic and tonally playful as that descriptor sounds. Leitch and the cast aim for capital-r Ridiculous with every intricate fight scene, from a brawl in the train’s ‘quiet car’ to extended riffs on Thomas the Tank Engine.

Rather than feebly attempt to wrangle that insanity into a sedate, consistent score, composer Dominic Lewis revels in the chaos, crafting what he calls a “concept album” of tracks that bob and weave amongst the rogue’s gallery of colorful hitmen that comprise the film’s cast.

The results are as muscular and propulsive as they are archly funny, Lewis hopping and skipping from hard rock to traditional Russian and Japanese musical modes to covers of the West Ham football team’s official anthem. Whatever you feel about Bullet Train‘s very specific wavelength, the score is a joy to listen to, and holds your hand through each zany jump in time, tone, and temperament.

We were lucky enough to sit down with Lewis for a good long while to break down his score for Bullet Train — how a long scoring process aided in his sense of experimentation, the pinballing influences behind each of the characters, and how his own history of musical mentors helped prep him for opportunities like this one. (Plus, he helps us break down several of the score’s craziest tracks.)

Bullet Train is currently playing in theaters, and you can listen to the score on your preferred music streaming service courtesy of Sony Music.

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CategoriesRight on Cue
Clint Worthington

Clint Worthington is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Spool, as well as one of the founders of the website/podcast Alcohollywood in 2011. He is also a Senior Writer at Consequence of Sound, as well as the co-host/producer of Travolta/Cage. You can also find his freelance work at IndieWire, UPROXX, Syfy Wire, The Takeout, and Crooked Marquee.

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