- The Jason Bourne movies changed the action genre by emphasizing realism and relevant themes like surveillance and CIA controversies.
- The movies allowed audiences to become detectives, piecing together Jason Bourne’s past, adding a layer of realism.
- The shaky cam style in the Jason Bourne movies enhanced the pace and intimacy of action scenes but has since been overused in Hollywood, often leading to unnecessary hyperactivity and disorientation.
The Jason Bourne movies changed the action movie genre for the better in more ways than one, but their offbeat filming technique created an action movie problem that still exists. The primary reason why the Jason Bourne franchise was so well received by both viewers and critics was their emphasis on realism. While staying true to the core ideas of its source material, the Bourne movies adopted themes surrounding the threat of surveillance and the CIA’s malicious behind-the-scenes controversies to be more relevant for the times.
By creating a gripping hook surrounding the identity of Matt Damon’s character, the movies also allowed audiences to become armchair detectives and put together the missing pieces of Jason Bourne’s past with him. These real-life references and compelling mysteries added a layer of realism to the movie, which was further enhanced by the action scenes that adopted a unique shaky cam style. The Jason Bourne movies eventually became so successful that other action movies started emulating their key elements, especially their infamous filming technique.
Jason Bourne’s Shaky Cam Style Caught On (& Ruined Action Scenes)
Nearly every action sequence in Paul Greengrass’s Jason Bourne movies has the shaky cam effect, which enhances their pace and cleverly adds a layer of intimacy. The dizzying cam style worked well for the Jason Bourne movies because it seemed in tandem with the franchise’s themes and storytelling structure. Every action scene in the movies was supposed to highlight how Matt Damon’s character knew little about his identity and yet had traces of his past life ingrained in his muscle memory. He was not consciously aware of his martial arts forte but somehow dominated anyone who tried overpowering him in hand-to-hand combat.
With the shaky shooting style, Greengrass allowed audiences to immerse themselves in Jason Bourne’s perspective, making them bystanders who unravel his shrouded past alongside him. As a result, every time Matt Damon’s character, Jason Bourne, learned something new about himself, it was as suspiring for a viewer as it was for him. Unfortunately, the movie’s shaky cam style caught on, and other films started ripping it off without having a solid reason to adopt it. For instance, movies like Taken 2 and Quantum of Solace tried reinstating the Bourne franchise’s action scenes by adopting a similar shaky style but ended up creating unnecessarily hyperactive sequences.
Hollywood Is Still Using Shaky Cam In Modern Action Movies
The Bourne movies were not the first to use the shaky cam style, but Paul Greengrass deserves credit for revolutionizing it by masterfully implementing it in action scenes. Unfortunately, the camera effect is not revolutionary anymore and has become more of a staple for action films. While there is nothing inherently wrong with that, its implementation is often a far cry from Greegrass’ techniques. While Greengrass coupled the shaky effect with carefully spliced cut scenes, many modern films use it to misguide and disorient audiences deliberately.
From The Hunger Games movies to The Expendables, many modern action flicks continue implementing the filming style but often leave audiences nauseated instead of excited. A few films like Extraction 2 still use it well, giving audiences an immersive, white-knuckling experience but not making them feel completely lost during action scenes. However, the prevalence of the shaky cam style in Hollywood after the Jason Bourne movies has diminished its impact, making it quite tiresome and redundant.