When Danny Elfman tackles action, it’s usually with the frenetic rock-orchestral energy of WANTED, or bringing down the dark cosmic thunder of HELLBOY 2. So it’s particularly cool when the composer gets to stretch with more realistic protagonists in the action arena, especially for the family-driven thrills of THE NEXT THREE DAYS, in which Russell Crowe (whom Elfman last scored for PROOF OF LIFE) tries to spring his character’s wife from an unjust murder rap.

Elfman’s inimitably eccentric style has perhaps never sounded so effectively normal as it were, combining an emotional heartbeat with gripping suspense rhythms, as tender guitars, pianos and melodically tense strings reflect the love and determination that turns an ordinary husband into a fugitive.

And no cue in DAYS packs a suspenseful punch like the big “Breakout,” as empathetic, ever-shifting orchestral percussion and guitar stylings bust our heroine out of stir. It’s a master lesson how to make an eight minute run of music into a virtuoso exercise in breathless excitement, turning this cue into a highlight in Elfman’s already remarkable cannon. Top DAYS off with a soulful voice that sings for family ties taken to the breaking point, then add two Moby numbers, and you’ve got another piece of Elfman dynamite that isn’t so much constantly exploding as it is impressing with its humane power.

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