It's cliche to say Massive Attack's music has got somewhat of a cinematic edge to it. As if its the music to a film that has yet to be made. At least that's what I keep reading in countless interviews with the band.
And I guess the claim that there is a filmic quality to their music is given alot more credibility when you consider just how many times its been licensed for film and TV. So for this blog post I'm going to be listing some of my favourite uses of Massive Attack's music in the movies.
I've limited my list to just ten for my own sake, and while I've numbered them for organization purposes I don't really have any preferences over which are my ultimate favourite. If they made it on this list, then just trust me, they're good. Don't ask me to rank them.
Also, if you want to check out more media clips featuring Massive Attack's music that did'nt make this top 10, then check out these two links -
And if you would like to offer your own input into your favourite use of Massive Attack in a moving medium, then by all means be my guest in the comments area below...
1. Angel - Snatch (2000)
One of the better films on this list and surely one of the best uses as well of any Massive Attack song in a film. You can definitely tell that director Guy Ritchie knows his music and how to use it in his films and the scoring of Angel with the scene were Micky's (Brad Pitt) mother is murdered is top-notch.
Not only that but we also get Angel included on the soundtrack CD. Other inclusions from "The Stranglers" and "The Specials" make it a varied soundtrack for this crime-filled British caper.
2. Dissolved Girl - The Matrix (1999)
Until the dire sequels came along and ruined the allure of the original, The Matrix stood as a groundbreaking sci-fi/action hybrid. I even have the soundtrack CD for the film, which was a nice hybrid in itself of rock and electronica.
Of course, the one big omission from the soundtrack album was Dissolved Girl, the track Neo is listening to on his headphones when we are first introduced to his character.
There was talk of Massive Attack contributing a new song for inclusion on the Matrix Reloaded soundtrack, with 3D saying as much on the old Raft message board in 2002. I don't know the reasons but whatever it was, it did'nt happen. "Bogus" as Keanu Reeves would say. :-(
3. Superpredators - The Jackal (1997)
The Jackal - an otherwise forgettable film released in 1997, but with the noted distinction of having not one but two unreleased Massive Attack tracks contained within its soundtrack. The first one being an early version of Dissolved Girl, which I'm not featuring here.
Instead, I'm going for the 2nd track, that being the original version of Superpredators before the Mad Professor got his hands on it and remixed it for the Risingson single. Played over the opening credits, the track's juxtaposition with all the Soviet era backdrops make it a very effective use of music to start the film off with. Also, you've gotta love the use of the "Siouxsie & The Banshees" sample.
Unfortunately the only other really memorable thing about the film outside this opening, is Richard Gere's ridiculous Northern Ireland accent. Makes me wince just thinking about it. :-x
4. Angel - Firewall (2006)
Question: How many times has Harrison Ford starred in a movie were he has to fight to save his wife/family? Answer: Far too many.
And Firewall can be added to that long list. Check out this hilarious joke trailer I found on YouTube, sending up Mr. Ford's attraction to this kind of role.
Anyway, back to the film and Angel, which is heard during the opening credits and is actually a pretty good use of the song, tapping into the fear of the surveillance society that we live in today. So definitely good marks here for the opening. Pity that the rest of the movie had to be so formulaic. :-|
5. I Against I - Blade 2 (2002)
Blade 2 was only famed Mexican director's Guillermo del Toro 2nd English language film. Its even probably the highlight of the Blade trilogy to be honest, even though they were never really my cup of tea. But you can't deny, Blade was the role Wesley Snipes was born to play.
Anyway, 3D who was an admirer of del Toro's previous films, got Massive Attack involved in an interesting crossover for the film with the American rapper/actor known as Dante Smith A.K.A Mos Def. The result was the bass-pounding I Against I, in my opinion still the best output the band put out in the period in between Mezzanine and 100th Window.
The use of I Against I in the film is one of the most badass scenes in the film (in a film full of badass scenes). Check out the YouTube embed if you think I'm lying. The track is only featured for about 30 seconds in the movie but it sure does make an impact.
There was also the Blade 2 soundtrack album that came out at the same time as the film, that was billed as being a kind of rap vs. electronica crossover with lots of different acts from both genres collaborating with each other - Eve & Fatboy Slim, Ice Cube & Paul Oakenfold, Mystikal & Moby, etc... A good idea in theory I suppose, but in execution it was bloody awful, with the sole exception of the Massive Attack & Mos Def pairing.
6. Unfinished Sympathy - Sliver (1993)
I keep hearing over and over again how Massive Attack's music is ideally suited for having sex to. I'll let you be the judge of that, but the filmmakers of this 1993 erotic thriller starring Sharon Stone obviously thought so, as Unfinished Sympathy is played over the soundtrack to this makeout scene, which I believe only gets more explicit as it goes on. The YouTube clip however cuts off before anything too revealing is shown.
I have'nt seen Sliver, so beyond the erotic thriller angle (Sharon Stone seemed to star in loads of those in the 1990's), I can't really make much comment on it. From the scant few reviews I looked up, it seems I'm not missing much.
This would also be the first use of Massive Attack's music in a mainstream Hollywood feature. The first of many as we all know.
7. Spying Glass - One Eight Seven (1997)
The always watchable Samuel L. Jackson stars in this 1997 urban drama. Spying Glass is used to good effect in the 2nd scene of the film, with Jackson's character returning to teaching after a 15th month absence, after being stabbed previously in his last school.
It's a good film dealing with violence in schools and the disenfranchised youth of L.A. It also has a memorable ending I did'nt see coming when I saw it a couple of years back.
There's actually two Massive Attack tracks present in this film, the aforementioned Spying Glass and also Karamcoma played at a later point in the film. The soundtrack album features both these tracks on it, as well as DJ Shadow and Everything But The Girl amongst others.
8. Angel - Stay (2005)
Ryan Gosling faces some personal demons of his in this clip from Stay, where Angel is well used as the soundtrack to a seedy strip club. I'm surprised no one had thought to use the two together like that before, but it certainly works here.
The film itself is well worth a watch in my opinion, as it plays as a superior version of Jacob's Ladder. Even though just by mentioning Jacob's Ladder (if your at all familiar with that movie), I'm perhaps giving too much of the ending twist away.
Anyway, this is the 3rd and last time you'll see Angel on this list. Its by a fair margin the most used (I would say overused) Massive Attack track when it comes to being used in movie soundtracks. I get the appeal of it. It instantly creates a heightened mood and tension for any scene as soon as you hear the opening two bars of that awesome bassline.
But as I mentioned, its overuse by music supervisors is starting to smack of laziness. Maybe, Massive Attack or (is it?) EMI should cut down on licencing it so readily, but I digress...
9. Safe From Harm - The Insider (1999)
I thought 1999 was a great year for films - we had Fight Club, The Matrix, American Beauty, Magnolia and The Insider. The last one in that list tends to be forgotten but I've always appreciated its real life story about how the big tobacco industry operates.
Another thing to appreciate about it is the film's soundtrack - an original score by Dead Can Dance's Lisa Gerrard and a few other notable selections, from the likes of Graeme Revell, Gustavo Santaolalla and of course Massive Attack.
Actually, the use of Safe From Harm (more accurately the Paul Oakenfold remix of SFH) in this film's climax really adds to the sense of triumph Al Pacino's character feels as he walks out the door at the end. It also helps that the song takes centre stage during this bit. Its a pity I missed this one in the cinema at the time, because it would have felt a real treat hearing Billy Cobram's bassline over the sound system in a enclosed theatre.
10. Teardrop - Prison Break (TV) (2005-2009)
So for this final entry, I'm kind of cheating as it pretty obvious to most this is'nt a film but a TV series, but I thought I'd include it for a few reasons.
I wanted to have one instance of Teardrop on this list and the interesting fact is that at least for all its popularity, Teardrop does'nt seem to have been used in any films that I'm aware of, but has been used frequently on the small screen, most famously as the opening theme to House.
Because that one is so well known I did'nt want to include it on this list, so instead I went with when Teardrop was used on the soundtrack to an episode of Prison Break, that episode being titled "Tonight" and being the 20th of the 1st season of the show.
As for Prison Break itself, I remember watching it when it first came out.It was a great show, at least for the 1st season when afterwards it very quickly ran out of steam (as most fans of the show would probably admit).
Here are links to the IMDB page for the film and TV shows that have used Massive Attack's music as part of their soundtrack in the last odd 20 years. Not comprehensive by any means but a good sampling of them. Check out Massive Attack's IMDB page for a full list. And of course, thanks for checking out this post!
- Angel - Pi (1998), Go (1999), Best Laid Plans (1999), Wonderland (1999), Snatch (2000), Antitrust (2001), Flight Of the Phoenix (2004), Stay (2005),Firewall (2006), Le Femme Nikita (TV) (1997-2001)
- Teardrop - House M.D (TV) (2004-2012), Charmed (TV) (1998-2006), Cold Case (TV) (2003-2010), Prison Break (2005-2009), Occupation (TV) (2008)
- Protection - Hackers (1995), Sabrina (1995)
- Dissolved Girl - The Jackal (1997), The Matrix (1999)
- Inertia Creeps - Stigmata (1999), Taking Lives (2004), Numb3rs (TV) (2005-2010)
- Safe From Harm - The Insider (1999), Definitely, Maybe (2008)
- Karmacoma - One Eight Seven (1997), Sleeper Cell (TV) (2005-2006)
- Spying Glass - One Eight Seven (1997)
- Risingson - Abre Los Ojos (1997)
- Three - City Of Industry (1997)
- Superpredators - The Jackal (1997)
- Future Proof - Smallville (TV) (2001-2011), Queer As Folk (TV) (2000-2005)
- Unfinished Sympathy - Sliver (1993), Jack & Sarah (1995)
- Be Thankful For What You've Got - Bounce (2000)
- Paradise Circus - Luther (TV) (2010-), Gossip Girl (TV) (2007-2013), Revenge (TV) (2011-)
- Splitting The Atom - (Luck (TV) (2011-2012)
- Live With Me - Person of Interest (TV) (2011-)
- I Against I - Blade 2 (2002)