There’s a clip that’s been making the rounds on the internet for a little while.
It’s not a happy clip, but it is a damning clip. A clip of bitter truth. A cold cup of rage.
It’s a clip that speaks to a truth that a lot of us have been bemoaning for some time: that editing in some modern movies is out of fucking control. That it’s off the leash. That it’s become a ridiculous and incoherent visual noise, with its close-up rapid cutting grinding any sense of space or perspective, or ideas about composition, down to fine pulp. Now, yes, you can have your Jean-Pierre Melville-like languid and spacey, medium-shot long takes; or you can have your Paul Greengrass-esque manic, shakey-cam close-ups. There is no right way to make movies.
There is, however, a wrong way.
This clip that I’ve been talking about shows us the wrong way.
The clip is called Bryan Mills jumps a fence:
Now, sure, there is the factor of 60+ year-old Liam Neeson to consider, badass though he is, and his more than likely reluctance to do multiple takes of jumping over a goddamn fence. Ideally, if a scene calls for an actor to jump a fence, personally I’d like to see them actually jump a fence. But that’s not always going to happen. I get it. But you know what, in that case, just cut around the actual jump! You don’t need to pepper the temporal surroundings with a flurry of superfluous edits. That’s like slipping and falling over into some shit, only to then wipe the shit all over yourself with pretend glee, like that was the originally intended denouement of your elaborate and skillfully executed pratfall. That’s like punching someone in the face, and then launching a fist fusillade over the rest of their torso for half a minute just to ‘even out the pain’. Yes, you’re trying to disguise the original act — cutting on the fence jump, slipping into some shit, launching an appendage at a face — but you’re only making it worse. We know what you did. Just deal with it gracefully and move on.
Olivier Megaton, the director of Taken 3 (and Taken 2, and Transporter 3), is the symptom, not the disease. But today my beef is with him. I will find you, Megaton, and I will make you watch that scene. I will make you watch it over and over again, Megaton, until you feel the fabric of the universe start to stretch and strain, and until you know what you have done, Megaton, until you really understand what’s been done here. Only then will we walk through the valley together in peace, Megaton. Only then will we know serenity in the meadow.
Then. Then I’ll be coming for you, Russo Brothers.
You know what you did in those early fight scenes in the otherwise pretty damn awesome Captain America: Civil War. You know what you did.