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almost always flow from the story,
what some would call "organic".
For example, the way his characters
nearly blend into the jungle in "Predator",
or the way he frames
Bruce Willis in doorways
or pushed to a margin
of the frame in "Die Hard",
or, in "Die Hard with a Vengeance",
the way cinematographer
Peter Menzies boldly uses the zoom lens,
which invokes the New York
street-style of photography
which rose to prominence in the 1970s.
These devices make McTiernan's movies
interesting to watch,
but do not take the audience out of the story.
McTiernan uses these devices, among others,
to ground the audience
in the geography of the action.
Showing where all the elements
are in relation to one another
is essential in making the audience
feel excited or threatened.
This is one of McTiernan's greatest strengths,
but unfortunately the same cannot be
said of many of his fellow action directors.
Undercranked- or otherwise sped up -
photography, overbearing sound design,
and, most significantly,
overcutting in the editing room,
are largely responsible
for the glut of action sequences
which resemble music videos
more than anything else -
and not especially good ones.
Unlike an action sequence
in a John McTiernan movie,
the style of these sequences
overwhelms the story... and the audience.
Is this because directors worry
about losing our attention?
Or does this come from a place of vanity:
An assumption that
we will have no emotional reaction
unless they impose
their stylistic gimmicks on a sequence?
In recent years,
we've seen action movies set on airplanes
where it's virtually impossible
to make sense of the geography,
whereas in "Predator's"jungle,
we almost always know where we are.
For all its gore and impact,
"Predator" is surprisingly elegant.
(Baxley) Basically, every stunt
has been done before.
The challenge is in finding a combination
of five or six different elements
to create something that looks
and feels new. It's about execution.
As a second-unit director,
my philosophy is not only
to do the best sequence done to date,
but to get into the director's head,
find out what he wants.
Predator was hard. He kept everything
close to the vest. But I would listen.
And I want to stress that it was
John McTiernan's vision and movie.
The heroes of John McTiernan's
movies often share a kinship
with the heroes of movies by
such legendary directors as Anthony Mann
who directed Jimmy Stewart
in his greatest westerns,
Raoul Walsh, and even
to a certain extent, Alfred Hitchcock.
The best example of such a hero
might be Gary Cooper in "High Noon",
which the filmmakers
overtly reference in "Die Hard".
McTiernan takes all of this to its conclusion
by ending the story not on a triumphant note,
but on a sombre one.
The make-up, the performances by
Elpidia Carillo and Schwarzenegger,
McAlpine's camerawork,
and Silvestri's mournful music cue,
which David Stone calls
"Fanfare for the Common Mercenary",
all create this effect: Victory
in the face of overwhelming odds
and weariness in the face of victory.
It's McTiernan's final exercise of realism
in what is otherwise an
action/science fiction/horror romp.
But McTiernan restores some
of the fun to the movie
by beginning the end credits
with the "roll call" seen here.
This also marks the movie's
final connection to the combat film.
The genre uses a similar device
to memorialise the fallen,
and to add a touch of immortality
to our boys and our cause.
This was particularly potent
in the World War II movies

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