Thursday, March 10, 2011

Crossing the Line

So I just read an interview on aintitcoolnews with director Jonathan Liebesman that contains a quote that I feel really sums up one of worst aspects of modern action filmmaking; ignoring the rules of classic filmmaking.

Liebesman: It's tough. I asked Paul Greengrass after I saw THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM at a DGA screening. I was like, "I'm amazed. I don't know what the fuck is going on, but I somehow know everything that's going on. How do you do that?" He was mysterious about it, but the truth is that if you care about the characters, the audience will read into the geography a lot. Because a lot of this is crosscutting lines; it doesn't obey geography too well. But if you care about the objectives of the characters, you'll understand, "Okay, he's going to dodge the tracer fire and run down that alley. When is he going to do it?" You're anticipating things. If you understand what the character wants, and you hope the character achieves that stuff, I think the geography matters a little less. If you look at BOURNE, a lot of it isn't geographically correct, but you follow because you know what he needs and is trying to do in each moment. It's the audience understanding what the character wants, hoping the character gets what he wants, understanding what stands in his way, and then watching the equation unfold. The more skillful you are at setting those things up, the less the geography matters.

Wow! Did he actually just use character development as an argument for lazy filmmaking? If we care about the characters we won't care if the geography makes sense? Isn't the way characters relate to each other and their environment (geographically speaking) important for us to buy these events? Isn't the confusion that created as a result of ignoring this geography a hinderance to us "caring about the characters?" 

Granted, I’ve not seen Battle: LA yet, and plan to soon. But I have seen Greengrass’ Borne Movies and yeah, they work in spite of the crappy shooting style, but imagine how much more effective these movies might have been with a little less frenetic editing and shooting. But, I suppose there’s an argument to be made as to why they work better because of it. I just don’t see it.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m just getting old. I’m sounding a lot like a curmudgeon. “Damn these kids, their shaky cams and fast editing!”


  1. I think I've told you this before, but when I saw the first Bourne movie in high school, it literally made me sick. Maybe it's better on a small screen where you don't get motion sickness.

  2. They're definitely better as far as that goes on tv.

    By the way, I saw Battle LA. Not bad, just really generic.
    And it was really, super cheesy the way they shoehorned in the civilian characters and then didn't do a damn thing with them.