John Baumgartner

Shot4Shot-Live Free Die Hard

LIVE FREE, DIE HARD (2007, Wiseman)

As you can see, I’m changing it up and going off the beaten path. Today’s clip has a couple moments that are great examples of capturing exciting kinetic energy.  I can imagine that this director, Len Wiseman, was a fan of Spielberg’s Duel, which has fantastic examples of these type of wide-lens shots, as does all of Cameron’s work. Creating visually energetic shots seems to be Wiseman’s strength.  (Just did a little research, Wiseman credits Raiders as a major inspiration in his wanting to become a director.  Sounds familiar.  Any friend of Raiders is a friend of mine.)

These two shots remind me of being a kid and putting one eye up close to a toy car or plane to create the most dynamic movements possible for the movie I was directing in my mind.  When you do that, you have to add “whooshy” sounds to go along with the move, and it’s great to see today’s shot doesn’t skimp.

I include a chunk of the whole sequence in this clip because I think the first shot to discuss works as much for the breath it supplies in a necessarily cutty action sequence as it does for its super dynamic movement alone.

Live Free, Die Hard, Film Fast

When we cut to :11, Wiseman or second unit director Brian Smrz (why not, it was 2nd unit director Mickey Moore who directed the famous truck sequence in Raiders from Spielberg’s storyboards) provide some gorgeous wide-angle-lens adrenaline while also starting a new “phrase” of the action sequence.  (Note the “whoosh” sounds as the cars pass in the foreground!  Sweet.)  I know this must have been difficult to time; certainly models were used in planning it, I mean, how could the 10-year-old in him resist?  I wonder how many takes it took to get the timing just right.  (I mean look how many speeding vehicles there are, plus the camera vehicle, plus a chopper!)  However many takes, worth it.

The second shot (:24) is a splendidly exciting way to get us out of this sequence – nothing spells high energy like a wide-angle lens speeding straight at an on-coming vehicle and a quick whip pan with it as it peels off at a 90˚angle.  In this case, the car tears away from us down the ramp, and off into the next action set piece in the tunnel.

Love or hate Wiseman, these shots are sweet.  Don’t blink or you’ll miss them both:


  • June 1, 2011

    Kinda reminds me of the BMW films. Guy Ritchie’s short “STAR” with then wife Madonna. The car chase and camera angles are very similar.

  • June 2, 2011

    The content of your clip has been blocked by FOX. Can’t watch it. Do they really have people constantly crawling YouTube to find their content? Crazy.

  • June 3, 2011

    Blocked for me, too.


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