On what would end up being one of his final projects before his accidental death in June 2015, veteran film composer James Horner ventured into uncharted territory scoring Antoine Fuqua's gritty boxing drama Southpaw. The film, which was originally developed to star Eminem (who was later replaced by actor Jake Gyllenhaal), is also accompanied by a companion hip-hop soundtrack featuring Eminem, 50 Cent, Bad Meets Evil, and others. Horner's original score eschews the orchestral grandeur that has often been his signature in favor of moody minimalism and heavy electronic elements. It's a side of his music that will be unfamiliar to many, as it relies more on textures, tones, and atmosphere, sounding quite severe and cold at times. It shows a willingness, even at his age and level of success, to work outside of his comfort zone and, more importantly, that he remains dedicated to understanding his subject. The film's themes of tragedy, anger, frustration, and, eventually, recovery and redemption are well-handled by Horner and he manages to turn in something inventive and unique to his catalog. There are a few classic Horner moments on the Southpaw score, most notably in the sun-warmed string sections of "Dream Crusher" and the powerful crescendo of "Hope vs. Escobar," which supports the film's final boxing match. While there are rumors of Horner having composed a secret score to Fuqua's remake of The Magnificent Seven, Southpaw's powerful and somber score inadvertently provides a fitting requiem to his own tragic end.
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AllMusic Review by Timothy Monger