I saw the Bourne Ultimatum (also known as Run Around Freezing European Cities 3) the other night. Good movie. Better than the second, probably not as good as the first. The only problem I had with it was the overuse of “shaky camera.” A term which, of course, has a Wikipedia article.

I hate every fucking director who thinks this is an effective technique. The first time I ever noticed it was in Braveheart (also known as It’s Been Eight Hours, Just End Already), where every battle scene consisted of a few quick glimpses of swords, kilts, and horses whinnying in bug-eyed terror. I assume the general idea is to give the viewers the impression that they’re really there, and it works, except that you feel as though you’re really there as a cameraman having an epileptic seizure.

Not content with simply ruining action scenes by replacing the camera crew with a hardware-store paint agitator, the director also decided to change scenes roughly every 0.8 seconds, giving the viewer no chance whatsoever to actually process what is going on. The car chase through New York was an especially grievous offender. That’s not how an action scene should be. It should be precise, clear, and lavish the camera’s attention on the intricate details. Basically, keep it still so we can see what the fuck is happening. Movies which do that have specific moments you can remember as being especially awesome, and will fondly recall in the post-movie digestion conversation in the car on the way home. Movies like the Bourne Ultimatum give you only vague recollections of a lot of cars or guns moving really fast, and a case of minor eye strain or nausea.

As a brutal twisting of the knife, the camera also shakes during quiet, non-action scenes. I’m not kidding. Two guys are sitting there in a restaurant, and the screen is wobbling around crazily, and also burying itself in one character’s shoulderblade à la 24. That’s sheer stupidity and an insult to the art of cinema.

If you’re ever going to make a movie then please: take a cue from Children of Men, my favourite movie of all time. It features several incredibly awesome single-take action scenes, one of which lasts nearly eight minutes, and all of which are textbook examples of masterful cinematography that was somehow cheated out of an Academy Award by Pan’s Labyrinth. Also note that the cameramen managed to refrain from the temptation of tying their cameras to ropes and whirling them around their heads during the middle of a take. If I ever walk onto a set and see someone actively engaged in creating “shaky camera” magic, I’m going to staple the camera to the fucking wall. Through their hands.