Director Jonathan Mostow's science-fiction/mystery/action movie Surrogates earned disappointing box office returns and poor reviews upon its release in September 2009, largely because it was viewed as a formulaic effort that had been done better before, for example, as Minority Report or I, Robot. (There were also clear echoes of The Matrix.) It wasn't a surprising work from a director previously known for Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. For the fourth time (following U-571, Flight of Black Angel, and Breakdown), Mostow employed composer Richard Marvin, whose résumé includes playing piano for a number of noted score composers of an earlier generation and lots of TV work. On this soundtrack album, released more than six weeks after the movie itself (which is probably halfway to the DVD release date), Marvin's work seems similar to his director's in the sense that he has produced an efficient, if undistinguished action score. The film's reported $80 million budget seems to have included a healthy allotment for the music, since Marvin has employed no less than 124 musicians in what is dubbed the Hollywood Studio Symphony and spread them across the Sony Scoring Stage to record this music in which, as is typical for this sort of score, all those string players are forced to make lots of ominous, screechy sounds when they are not playing double time to keep up with the pounding, programmed percussion meant to accompany chase scenes. One thing that can be said for the film is that, at 85 minutes, it doesn't waste any time, and neither does Marvin. The most flair he shows comes at the end, when, in "Aftermath," he throws in a tense, romantic string theme reminiscent of Bernard Herrmann. Like his director, he has done a professional job, but no more.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann