With the recent release of the new Bourne film we decided to take a look at how the original trilogy inspired other films to use the Greengrass shaky-cam action technique.
10. Taken 2 – Closing Fight
The film series that reinvented Liam Neeson as an action hero contains more examples of the technique done wrong, lacking the Greengrass finesse. The closing fight of Taken 2 has laughable choreography and plenty of unnecessary shaky-cam close-ups. The Taken aesthetic would not have existed without Bourne coming first and despite its critical derision it proved popular at the box office.
9. Expendables 3 – Statham and Snipes with Knives
Again a poor knock-off but instead of just one fight we cut between multiple characters having their own shaky-cam intimate moments. Jason Statham and Wesley Snipes are particularly Bourne-esque with their use of knives. Whatever you may think about the film there is plenty of action.
8. Furious 7 – Ronda Rousey vs Michelle Rodriguez
Annoyingly this entry sits at spot number 8 for the 7th Fast and Furious film. The quality here is better as household items are used in this scene as weapons, like the best Bourne fights, except it includes high heels and dresses. What’s not to like?
7. Elysium – Damon vs Copley
The final showdown in Bloomkamp’s disappointing Elysium puts Matt Damon back in the close-up shaky-cam with added futuristic elements. A brutal showdown on a bridge leads to an intense highlight in an otherwise average film.
6. Quantum of Solace – Opening Car Chase
It’s widely recognised that Bourne triggered James Bond to reinvent itself. Daniel Craig’s weakest Bond film does have some great action. The prologue is full of Greengrass techniques starting with a close-up on the wheels then cutting between frantic shots as seen in Bourne Supremacy’s car chase.
5. Colombiana – Bathroom Fight
This hand-to-hand close quarters fight is one of the best and worst Bourne rip-offs. It even elevates the use of random objects as weapons here as Zoe Saldana uses a toothbrush, belt and towel. A guilty pleasure this one.
4. Batman Begins – Train Showdown
Even Christopher Nolan did it in his gritty Batman films. This time Liam Neeson is on the receiving end as the claustrophobic train carriage leads to our dark knight exchanging blows in close quarters with his former mentor. Nolan avoids the aggravating confusion but the style enhances the chaotic movement of the train.
3. World War Z – Plane Scene
An underrated film overshadowed by production issues. However, in this scene the close-up brutal action creates dizzying chaos as the zombies take over the plane.
2. Hunger Games – Cornucopia Bloodbath
This still remains the best scene in the Hunger Games series. This is the first scene actually in the games and the violence and style mirror the anxiety and terror of our heroine. The spasmodic cuts enhance the chaos often taking a beat to linger longer than comfortable.
1. Casino Royale – Stairwell fight
Daniel Craig’s tenure as Bond was defined by Bourne. Fittingly, Casino Royale was rightly dubbed “Bond-does-Bourne”. Refreshingly, the action is worthy of the association adding a gritty realism to the action not seen in 007 before. Like Bourne, the close-up shaky-cam makes the audience feel the intensity of the fight and this is never more evident than this stairwell scene.
Written and Compiled by Lyndon Wells
What are your fave Bourne-inspired action scenes?