It took more than 555 musicians from across Europe, including Rome, Vienna, Venice, Switzerland and London, to put together the music for “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One”. Lorne Balfe tells Variation.
Balfe says the composer began writing the music almost three years ago, and “over 14 hours of music have been recorded at the last count.” However, only two and a half hours reached the final cut of the film.
sees the story Tom CruiseEthan Hunt from The Entity takes on a new villain, a sentient AI. Ethan’s mission is to defeat The Entity with a metal key. While the movie featured a number of mind-blowing stunts, including Ethan riding a motorcycle down a cliff or a tough fight atop a moving steam train, there was also plenty of emotion for Balfe to root his score.
“There were certain things on bridges and certain relationships that ended,” he says. “You see a completely different side of Ethan. You see someone who is protective and driven by different things, and that’s where that feeling comes from.”
Meanwhile, Balfe has never strayed from the series’ iconic theme introduced by Lalo Schifrin almost 60 years ago. “I embraced it,” says Balfe. “This DNA is well connected throughout the movie. It connects with Ethan’s theme and the main opening titles.”
With Ethan’s theme, Balfe ventured into a darker space for chord progressions. “I went back and looked at Sergei Rachmaninoff and Igor Stravinsky and rediscovered what was already there,” she says. “That’s what audiences relate to and their bond with, but it’s distorted in a different way… It was about taking that and diving into the emotional and tragic vocabulary.”
It took a global village to put the score together. Balfe’s recording process followed where they shot the movie. “I wanted to be pure and honest about what we saw and involve the local community,” she says. “So while they were filming in Rome, we recorded there. So we went to Vienna and found local musicians there.” “There are times when it guarantees a small community and there are times when it guarantees a global franchise.”
His approach to recruiting local musicians helped him discover new talent. director and writer Christopher McQuarrie and Cruise had seen Switzerland-based Top Secret Drum Corps performing at the Queen’s Jubilee and mentioned it to Balfe. “They’re military drummers, and I felt like I had found the missing piece in the DNA of the score,” Balfe says. “I started incorporating them into the score, where it became rhythmic and percussive.” “The size of the orchestra is not important, it’s how you use it,” adds Balfe.
Balfe says there has been a lot of experimentation with the score, so time is a luxury. In fact, he started working on the movie and then went off to fix the “Top Gun: Maverick” soundtrack before returning. But Balfe also heavily credits the film’s music editor, Cécile Tournesac. “It was an integral part of the creative process. “What I was writing for a scene, that scene could have been removed and he could have reduced the elements of that musical cue so it would work in a different scene,” he says. “We have a lot of us who do the soundtrack—the orchestrators and additional composers who helped bring us down that line.”
Listen to the movie’s new opening theme below.