Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Few of Your Favorite Things: A Fight Scene

One of the things I loved about The Bourne Identity (2002) was the fight scenes. Instead of quick cuts, unnecessary close-ups, and hard angles that obscured the action taking place on screen, director Doug Liman let the camera just sit back to capture the intricate and inventive combat. Naturally, they brought in a new director for The Bourne Supremacy (2004) -- Paul Greengrass -- and he got rid of all that. Whenever any action occurred in Supremacy, the cameraman would suddenly develop some combination of Parkinson's, coffee jitters, and attention deficit disorder. The camera would zoom in and out, shaking so violently that it was difficult to tell what was happening, and a lot of good choreography ended up hidden behind an amateurish attempt to create excitement. Greengrass was back for this year's The Bourne Ultimatum, and the shaky camera and quick cuts with him. But despite my dislike for how much of it was shot, Ultimatum did feature one of the few movie moments in 2007 that elicited genuine Wows from the theater audience. A bad guy is stalking Julia Stiles, and Bourne is stalking the bad guy, culminating in one of the best fight scenes in memory.

--Matt Miller


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