In a detailed, 20-minute video, Chicago Sun-Times blogger Jim Emerson dissects the convoy chase scene in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. The evaluation is heavy on film theory and his explanations of editing technique, but those who are curious enough about film theory (or TDK) may appreciate what others might easily consider nitpicking.
Emerson makes a case for absolute action sequence coherence, arguing that these “lapses in visual logic” are part of The Dark Knight‘s shortcomings. But you could easily argue that your mind makes sense of what is happening, regardless of shifts in perspective or trajectory, just like you’re able to read and understand a word that is misspelled.
Ultimately, I doubt your enjoyment of Nolan’s second Batman film will be reversed, but that’s not the point. It’s about looking under the hood, so to speak, of a beloved action sequence and examining the shots and cuts from a different point of view, in this case that of an editor.
If you’re fascinated by Emerson’s film theory, there is a part II titled “A Dash of Salt” that takes a closer look at the action in the Angelina Jolie thriller. I also recommend Film Critic Hulk‘s explanation of action scenes (particularly Raiders of the Lost Ark) with special guest Thomas Townsend, cinematographer on Attack the Block. Despite Hulk’s usage of all caps (you get used to it), the analysis reiterates some of the things I regularly belabor in my reviews, which is that action needs cause and effect, an emotional pay-off, and well-established stakes to tell mini stories, not CGI robots that whirl and clash without rhyme or reason. Finally, I definitely recommend Matthias Stork’s Chaos Cinema, a video essay on the slapdash state of modern action. As a cinephile, I love this stuff. What do you think?