Posted by: Jack | March 14, 2009

What Happened to Action?

Watched Quantum of Solace, the latest James Bond movie, this morning. Two minutes into the film, a car chase sequence nearly had me walking out of the theatre (our basement). 

High speed car chases along mountainous cliffs featuring fancy BMW’s and lots of guns are pretty exciting for most of us. I can’t even remember the last time I fired a weapon from a moving vehicle, let alone a sub-machine gun from a sports car. So when a director decides to include such a scene, I can understand why. What I can’t understand is what might compel that director to present that scene in a series of rapid clips, each lasting no longer than two seconds and most spanning only a small fraction of one second. That’s supposed to be reserved for trailers as they have only two minutes to sell the movie.

Our brains are not wired for connecting events across angle changes because our heads don’t move like that; especially not at that pace. If one split-second shot shows Bond driving really fast and the next tenth of a second shows a car crash, I might legitimately assume that Bond had just crashed. But when the next three angles, spanning all of one second, show Bond still driving, a car flipping off a ledge and someone getting shot, I’m left wondering what car crashed two seconds ago. 

That was pretty much the high point of the film. The rest of it sucked in the way that season 7 of 24 is sucking. Office politics and legal difficulties are not action.


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