I respect stunt professionals, and certainly admire their agility and bravery. But the only stunts that really make the grade are those that don’t look like stunts. The ones that look sloppy and accidental, I mean. The more skillfully “performed” a stunt is, the less believable it is. The stunts in Paul Feig‘s 2016 Ghostbusters exemplify this “fine but who cares?” aesthetic.
And forget car stunts. I know it’s extremely difficult to roll a car or drive it off a seaside pier or whatever, but flashy car stunts have been happening in action films for over a half-century now. The birth of serious stunt driving began 52 years ago with Peter Yates‘ Bullitt. I can’t even watch them any more.
What made Steve McQueen‘s Bullitt car chase through the hills of San Francisco seem so exciting and realistic? The sounds, for one thing — the roar of the muffler-free engines, the crashing sounds when the car chasses slammed into pavement after leaping through the air. Not to mention those metal hubcaps that kept flying off the tires of the bad-guy car. There must have been similar car chases in action films in which the hubcaps went flying, but I can’t recall a single one.