Hot on the heels of recent film scores from Daft Punk (Tron: Legacy) and Basement Jaxx (Attack the Block), the Chemical Brothers are the latest '90s electronica duo to transfer their knob-twiddling talents to the big screen with this official soundtrack to Hanna, the Joe Wright-directed tale of a young girl (Saoirse Ronan), trained by her father (Eric Bana) to become a multi-lingual assassin. Ignoring the temptation to smother their usual blend of hypnotic breakbeats and booming basslines in layers of cinematic orchestration, the album features several tracks that would fit quite comfortably on their recent studio effort, Further, such as the Middle Eastern-tinged "Escape 700," the claustrophobic, industrial electro of "Bahnhof Rumble," and the whirling sirens and old-school hip-hop samples of "The Devil Is in the Beats." But away from their superstar DJ sound, the pair pursue an uncharacteristically stripped-back, lo-fi production which perfectly suits the unsettling plot line of the Eastern Europe-based thriller. Opening number "Hanna's Theme" (also featured here in a vocal version featuring the ethereal tones of Stephanie Dosen) provides the motif which runs throughout its 20 tracks, with its twinkling music box instrumentation, eerie cooing harmonies, and lullaby-ish melodies also prevalent on the likes of the slightly creepy "The Sandman," the alternative kids' TV theme "The Devil Is in the Detail," and the atmospheric "Interrogation/ Lonesome Subway/Grimm's House." Elsewhere, "Car Chase (Arp Worship)" is a suitably adrenaline-charged fusion of twitchy techno and thundering trip-hop grooves, the ominous basslines and Italo-house piano chords of "Container Park" are underpinned by a series of sinister sound effects which should come with a health warning for those with a nervous disposition, while "Hanna vs. Marissa" brilliantly builds up the tension of the film's pivotal scene with an array of clattering rhythms, ambient noises, and ear-piercing synths. Several numbers are nothing more than brief pieces of incidental music ("Chalice 1," "Sun Collapse") which don't serve any purpose outside the context of the film, but strip away these occasional aimless noodlings, and you're left with an appropriately bold and brooding soundtrack which shows that 20 years into their career, the Chemical Brothers still have a few tricks up their sleeves.
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AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien