Few filmmakers have the kind of distinguished filmography in the action movie genre that Jan de Bont has. Aside from directing classics like Speed and Twister, de Bont was also the cinematographer for Die Hard, Basic Instinct, and The Hunt for Red October. The man knows how to make good-looking and memorable action thrillers, is what we're saying. In an interview with Collider, de Bont gave his thoughts on why modern action movies all look and feel the same.
"I think action movies today [use] too much visual effects. I mean I know that Twister was one of the first ones. But I also could already see the incredible dangers looming up. It's that so many things would be taken over by visual effects instead of physical effects. There's nothing you can duplicate better by visual effects if you can do it with a real action sequence. There's car crashes. I've seen that happen for real. It is so much better. There's no comparison. And almost I mean everything I see right now is almost all the same."
"So now we're getting into a new similar situation as before Die Hard was made. It has to be reinvented again, that genre, because it's becoming stale. The audience is seeing the visual effects. And we know the exaggeration of the visual effects. It kind of kills the story a little bit. It kills the presence of the characters in a movie. It's awful. It's really not a great situation."
The oversaturation of the Hollywood blockbuster landscape with special effects is one of the most repeated points that critics have complained about over the years. As de Bont points out, a CGI action scene will never be able to replicate the weight and substance of a scene that has been shot using real actors and locations. Apart from wanting Hollywood to stop relying so much on CGI, de Bont is also not a fan of the shaky-cam style of filmmaking that The Bourne Identity popularized, and which every new action movie has been running into the ground since.
"The reality is that I've always done handheld. But I don't want the handheld to be that visible. I do not want to draw attention to it. The only thing that you notice ... If it's too shaky, we'd do it again. That would be absolutely not effective. It's basically trying to be the point of view of the audience being there. So I wanted to create a sense that there's some life to the camera."
"So it's not that static, non-moving, tied-to-the-ground camera position. It is like if the camera moves to the left and the right, you can see a little bit better. The camera takes the position of somebody that wants to know more, that wants to see more. It's investigative. That is really curious what is going to happen and how people react. But no. I do not like shaky camera as a shaky camera as a style phenomenon."
This news comes from Collider.