Action Sequences

Via Film Critic Hulk I’ve come across this nice and exhausting analysis of a particular action sequence in Nolan’s “The Dark Knight”:

The guy who made this is a movie critic who worked together with Roger Ebert so in a way his analysis of the action sequence has a bit of an academic feel to it. Sure, action that goes from left to right in one shot and then from right to left in the next may be “wrong” but it’s the 21st century. Nobody will assume that a convoy of half a dozen cars has suddenly changed direction.

Incidentally, I’ve also watched “The Dark Knight” again recently. The whole sequence didn’t feel that good to me but not for the changing number of police cars or the unclear position of Harvey Dent in relation to the vehicles.

still frame of The Dark Knight

  • To me it just felt preposterous that a truck can crash into the convoy to take out the SWAT vehicle in front of Harvey Dent’s transporter yet the convoy is able to continue without having to slow down. The Joker’s truck would probably block all lanes for quite a while.
  • It also felt weird that the convoy was diverted by the burning fire truck in the first place. It was supposed to be the most important convoy in Gotham City. The route was supposed to be cleared of any traffic, and there even was a helicopter. Yet nobody bothered to constantly keep an eye on the whole area? Nobody noticed that somebody ignited a vehicle in downtown Gotham? It was up to the cops in the leading vehicle to notice the burning road block after they had already been approaching it for at least one city block. That level of police-force incompetence is mind-boggling.

Here’s another video from Jim Emerson, this time about an action sequence in “Salt” which he thought was well-executed because it has shot/reverse shot consistency. I admit he has a point. But the stunts that Angelina Jolie pulls off in this clip are ridiculously super-human so I’m a bit uncertain which action scene I like better:

Anyway, the essay that led me to these videos in the first place is Film Critic Hulk’s three-part write-up on what constitutes good action scenes. It’s an interesting read if you have 1-2 hours to spare 🙂 Part 1Part 2Part 3


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