Seeing this scene in ” Mission: Impossible: Fallout ” made me think, ” Wow, the digitally redone water is well integrated, it looks like the director, Christopher McQuarrie, really tried to drown Sean Harris. “
And yet it is not a digital effect, the actor, playing Lane, was indeed plunged into a pool of water, head first while wearing a straitjacket. The decor was hung from a platform and immersed in a very large pool, then rotated 360 degrees to give this immersion effect.
“We get into the prison truck with Lane, and then it fills with water and spins 360 degrees. Benji Dunn [actor Simon Pegg] gets in and frees Lane before he drowns. Water simulations have allowed to hide the platforms that operated the prison van and the waves caused by the underwater cameras. It’s one of the most brilliant sequences in the film.” Jody Johnson, special effects coordinator (source: Animation Magazine)
The viewer really has the impression of seeing a character drowning in a van, because the film has chosen realism over digital, just as it favors stunts over computer-generated characters.
“ Inception ” no need to say more you know the film as well as the cult scene just with the image above. One of the characters fights security agents in a long corridor which seems to rotate on itself.
When I first saw this film in the cinema, I was convinced that the actors were in front of a blue background and that the scenery had been added digitally. What a surprise when I learned that Christopher Nolan had also opted for a physical setting that rotates 360 degrees.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is indeed fighting bad guys when the floor happens to be the ceiling and vice versa, as the image below reveals. A scene that took a long time to prepare; joining the choreographies of a fight in front of a moving set is like learning to dance, but on a treadmill.
So to conclude, I would say that even if we have made great progress with digital technology, over the last twenty years, nothing will replace real stunts. A significant risk for the actors who must have good physical fitness and stunt training. As a reminder, Tom Cruise, who is used to doing some dangerous stunts on these films, was injured on the set of ” Mission Impossible: Fallout ” when he jumped from a roof, which delayed filming of a few weeks as well as its theatrical release.
But it’s a path that many big productions take to give the viewer immersion and this feeling of danger. Even rewatching scenes from old films, you can’t take away that stress when you know that the performer, or their stuntman, took enormous risks to achieve that result.