Dearest Michael Bay,
Have you seen The Raid? It’s been expanding in limited markets for a couple of weeks. I actually just came from seeing it at my local theater (my third viewing!) - a surprisingly full showing for 9:45 on a Monday night. I think you should see it.
The Raid is an incredible movie, an action extravaganza that is one of the most thrilling experiences you can have in a movie theater. Director and writer Gareth Evans understands the meaning of economy when it comes to character and story, and the meaning of clarity when it comes to action. This is a film that moves along at an astounding pace, is filled with fight scenes that viscerally fuck you up, and still manages to squeeze in some likable characters and a solid, if familiar, story.
I want you to see it because I think you’ll get some really interesting ideas from it. Evans shows that you can film an action scene without having the camera jerked around spastically in post. All you have to do is work with top-of-the-line stunt professionals and actors who are willing to really sell the action. The funny thing is that you totally have access to those kinds of people already! You’ll also note that even when the camera isn’t jerking about or cutting suddenly, the audience feels really invested in the action. It’s weird, but it works.
To be fair, Evans does shake the camera a little bit (and I suspect it’s in post, just like you big guys do it). But even when he’s shaking the camera the most - like in the scene where the cops are using up all their ammo shooting at bad guys in the stairwell - it’s with a purpose. That scene is supposed to be the most hectic and confusing scene in the movie. The cops are scrambling and freaking out. The whole film doesn’t maintain that sort of cinematography because after a while we get numb to it and it ceases to have any meaning.
It’s also interesting that Evans manages to create likable characters quickly, without resorting to painfully bad comedy scenes or long, stupid pointless storylines. But that feels pretty advanced. I’d really like you to focus on just how gorgeously clear and yet involving the action in this film is.
So Michael, if you haven’t yet seen The Raid I’d like to buy you a ticket. I know you’re in Scottsdale right now, filming Pain and Gain, but the good news is that The Raid is opening there this weekend, at the Harkins Shea 14. Filming a movie is a lot of work and you don’t have a ton of free time, but I assure you that seeing The Raid is going to be a pretty big moment for you. A real road to Damascus thing, even. I think you’ll remember that you used to be all about great framing and shots with depth that were also kinetic, not just hyperactive, unwatchable messes.
And even if it doesn't have a real impact on you, The Raid totally fucking rules and I think everybody deserves to see it.
By the way, I’ve cc’ed some other people on this, as I’d like to make the same offer to them. I know that Mr. Nolan showed real growth with his action scenes in Inception, but a viewing of The Raid could help reinforce the restraint he showed in that hallway fight.
Everybody directing a found footage movie in the near future.
Yours in Christ,
NOTE: Who am I leaving out? Let me know who should be cc'ed on this in the comments. If you're curious about whether The Raid is playing by you, click here for a list of theaters into which it's expanding.