Powerful punches, smooth moves, and acrobatic stunts are just some of the elements that make for an impressive action scene. To amp up a film’s imagery and add intensity, some filmmakers go a little beyond the standard fight and employ one of the most dramatic visual techniques: slow motion.
For years, movie directors have altered the frame rates on their cameras to either slow a sequence down or speed it up, based on how they want to tell a story.
Film historians credit August Musger, an Austrian priest and physicist, with inventing the slow-motion effect back at the beginning of the 1900s and, if you’ve been to the movie theater in the last decade, you’ve seen it employed today.
Now, filmmakers use the art of slow motion to allow audiences to pore over every detail of every frame of an intense sequence, to see the intricacies and beauty of an action in a different light. Sometimes, the technique doesn’t land well with audiences and comes across as trite and overplayed. In rare cases, however, the result is so badass that we end up watching the same few, magical seconds over and over again.
The exploding IED ‘The Hurt Locker’
Although The Hurt Locker wasn’t a hit among many service members and veterans, director Kathryn Bigelow captured an epic opening sequence that involved cool camera work and a detailed explosion that ripples outward over a rugged landscape.
Battling it out with the Persians in ‘300’
Who doesn’t like watching an awesome brawl between well-trained armies? That’s what Zack Snyder thought when he directed the combat-rich classic, 300. Although the film is filled with various slow-motion shots, it was best used when the audience runs alongside King Leonidas as he shreds members of the Persian army like it isn’t sh*t.
Kim Jong-un dies in ‘The Interview’
When the ultra-controversial action-comedy The Interview premiered in theaters, it drew in curious crowds who wanted to see if the film’s main characters were actually going to assassinate a fictional version of Kim Jong-un.
What we got was a slow-motion death scene so graphic that nobody could’ve predicted it.
Blowing up everybody in the street in ‘Swordfish’
A year after Hugh Jackman played Wolverine in X-Men, he played a computer hacker who was willing to break the law to reunite with his daughter. After being recruited to assist in a heist, the quickly goes awry, and filmmaker Dominic Sena gave us an explosion that the Wachowskis would be proud of.
Inside the lobby in ‘The Matrix’
Speaking of the Wachowskis, they directed a late-90s movie you might have heard of, called The Matrix.
This legendary film took special effects to another level. The epic fights, gravity-defying stunts, and over-the-top gun play made f*cking history.
Watch the clip below to see mastery over the art of slow motion.
Markie’s death scene in ‘Killing Them Softly’
Although this isn’t one of Brad Pitt’s most notable films, it does showcase one of the best up-close assassination scenes ever recorded.
The beautiful scene takes place on a moonlit, rainy night and gives the viewer the chance to watch every mechanical detail of a pistol firing rounds. Viewers watch tiny shards of glass fly through the air and see the wrinkles move on Markie Trattman’s (as played by Ray Liotta) face as he gets killed.
It’s f*cking epic!