like the restaurant battle in 'kill bill,' this sequence from 'bourne ultimatum' is pure, virtuoso filmmaking. i've watched this fist fight over and over again, trying to figure out the sheer number of setups in the sequence.
acclaimed editor, and editing theorist walter murch says that if you cut between more than 14 setups per minute, the audience starts to go crazy. i don't have a solid count on this sequence, but there are way more than 14 setups. i think the key is in the way one setup is cut into the next: what used to be regarded as ugly jump cuts are now commonplace. it is acceptable to cut between two angles that are close together. murch's theory comes from old school visual vocabulary where cuts must happen between contrasting angles: 14 of these in one minute would make your head spin, but in this case the myriad of setups are all close together, and the cutting happens between similar angles, not contrasting ones. each cut flows with the action, and though the cuts and the camerawork are frenetic, the movement of the scene is crystal clear because of the sharpness of the sound effects editing.
it's brimming with the excitement of something new, which means there will be many imitators.. so look forward to a lot of badly done shakycam and jump cut editing in the near future. meanwhile, greengrass' editor should be nominated for another oscar.
btw: if you're going to see 'ultimatum,' i reccomend you re-watch 'supremacy.' 'ultimatum' fits into it like a jigsaw puzzle piece - a revelation that blew me away with its storytelling audacity, and unwillingness to pander to the audience.