James Newton Howard

Off Limits [Original Score]

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The Vietnam war score Off Limits languishes among James Newton Howard's most tepid works; it's a synth-driven effort that's unmistakably the product of its late-'80s origins, its dearth of memorable melodies proves fatal. Howard's emphasis on atmosphere and mood no doubt works better onscreen than on record. Judged solely on their own merits, the cues are little more than wallpaper, and too fractured to add up to a cohesive whole. The gravitas and power of an orchestra might have salvaged the endeavor, but as it stands Off Limits feels cheap and rushed, not to mention terribly dated.