It’s less than 24 hrs since I heard the news of Tony Scott’s passing and I still can’t believe what I had heard. The 68-year-old director leaped off the L.A. County’s Vincent Thomas Bridge into the Los Angeles Harbor Sunday night, his black Toyota Prius with his suicide note still parked nearby. I read hours later that he had been diagnosed with an inoperable brain cancer. It’s such a tragic news… my heart is heavy that someone we thought had everything was so bereft of hope to be driven to such an extreme decision, leaving behind his wife and twin young sons. I feel for the family and my prayers go out to them, including his brother and business partner, Sir Ridley. Of all the tweets I saw, I thought this one from director Duncan Jones resonated with me most. Apparently Jones once worked for Mr. Scott in his early career:
Awww Tony. Wish you had felt there was a way to keep going. What a sad waste. My thoughts go out to his wife and beautiful children.
— Duncan Jones (@ManMadeMoon) August 20, 2012
I guess I’ve always grown up with Tony Scott’s films, even though I wasn’t too enthusiastic about his newer ones. I think the last film of his I saw was The Taking of Pelham 123 which was actually pretty good, but not all that memorable. But it’s no doubt he’s a talented director who’s got his own style and a penchant for dynamic action flicks. Growing up, TOP GUN was the coolest thing and I was somewhat looking forward to the sequel starring the now megastar Tom Cruise that Scott himself would direct.
So in his memory, Ted and I list our five picks of films we like most from the late British director. [Please don’t reprimand me for not including True Romance or Crimson Tide, I’m afraid I have not seen those two yet]
1. Spy Game (2001)
One of our friends actually gave his DVD to us and I’m lad he did as I don’t mind watching this one again. It’s perhaps one of my favorite movies with Brad Pitt, though I’m more impressed with the older Pitt look-a-like Robert Redford who plays his spy mentor. It’s perhaps Scott’s most understated work in his resume, it doesn’t have as many explosions or car chases like a typical Bond movie, but still offers a great deal of espionage suspense that I always enjoy. In a way, it’s like the recent Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy in the way it depicted the realistic espionage universe, but with a much more swift pacing. It’s the kind of smart thriller that gets overlooked at the box office as it’s not the ‘bombastic’ kind.
2. Top Gun (1986)
As a kid growing up in the 80s, this was an essential action flick that always brings back so many memories. Surely all the girls in my junior high had a crush on Tom Cruise, and what girl doesn’t like men in uniform? Truth be told, I still have no idea what this movie was really about, but who cares. We watched this for the boys and those fun jet flying sequences. The angst, the romance, the motorcycle ride through the sunset, etc., yeah they’re all cheese, but it was GOOD cheese, and back in the day I thought this movie was the coolest thing ever. No doubt this will be the movie he’s best remembered for.
To this day, I still love Berlin’s ‘Take My Breath Away,‘ though now it’ll be bittersweet as this song was played when I heard the news about Tony Scott’s death 😦
3. Enemy of the State (1998)
I quite enjoyed this one when I saw it on the big screen, it could be one of my favorite Will Smith’s movies. There’s plenty of suspense going on in this conspiracy thriller and we’ve got a great, scene-stealing performance from Gene Hackman. Instead of his usual car chases, this movie is full of foot chases, reminds me a bit of Hackman’s classic thriller The French Connection at times. There are also interesting camera angles and showing the action through a surveillance camera that gives it an edge. Scott’s kinetic energy is used to great effect in this one. Smith certainly is one of those actors who looks good running.
4. Beat The Devil – short (2002)
As I’ve mentioned in my Clive Owen post, I LOVE the BMW short films. This one with James Brown and Gary Oldman is one of the best and has Scott’s frenetic signature all over it. Guns, fast cars, with the godfather of soul, not to mention Machete er I mean Danny Trejo behind the wheel opposite The Driver. In just 10 minutes, we’ve got an electrifying drag race through the Las Vegas strip and a huge explosion involving a train. Easily the craziest and most bizarre 10-minute movie I’ve seen, but it sure was fun! Check it out below if you haven’t seen it:
5. Deja Vu (2006)
The third collaboration of Scott and Denzel Washington is quite a thrill ride. It’s a sci-fi thriller involving some sort of time travel, but the look of the movie isn’t actually sci-fi-ish. It seems that Scott had a penchant for setting his thriller in a public transportation, this time it takes place mostly on a ferry. Denzel and Val Kilmer are the good guys going opposite Jim Caviezel, in a quietly menacing role just a couple of years after playing Jesus Christ in The Passion of the Christ. Though the plot is hard to comprehend at times, I remember enjoying this one and was largely amused by it.
. . .
Even though I included him on my list of hack directors in Hollywood, I still believe he’s very talented, just that his last few films; he didn’t really want to tell a good story. He prefer to just show off this manic style of editing and over the top action sequences. With that said, Tony Scott made some really great films early in his career. Here are my favorites of his:
1. True Romance (1993)
This film’s one of my favorite of the 90s, it was written by then unknown Quentin Tarantino and yes it’s violent. In fact, thanks to this movie most of the action films today are rated PG-13; I won’t go into details but Google Dan Quayle and this film and you’ll understand why. The film opened in the fall of 1993, it tanked at the box office but it became sort of a cult since. I was still in high school then and saw it with my buddies in theater, I fell in love with the film and have lost count on many times I’ve watched it.
2. Crimson Tide (1995)
This was the first collaboration between Scott and Washington, they later worked together in 4 more films. I thought this was the best film of 1995 and it’s a shame the Oscar voters ignored it. The performances by Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman were spectacular. I know most people dismissed it because it was a Don Simpson/Jerry Bruckheimer production, so they thought it was just a mindless action film. Well the film hardly had any action and it was mostly the intense performances by the leads that made the film so good.
A little fact about this film, it was Disney’s first big budgeted live action film, it was huge gamble but it paid off for the studio. After this film came out, they produced several high priced action flicks; The Rock, Con Air, Pirates of the Carribean films are some examples.
3. Enemy of the State
The film was supposed to be a Tom Cruise vehicle but because he’s stuck doing Eyes Wide Shut, he had to pass. It would’ve been a third collaboration between Scott and Cruise. I love this movie and in my opinion, it’s Will Smith’s best film. Some of the set pieces were well staged, I especially love the first foot chase and the shootout in the restaurant. Great film!
4. Spy Game
In my opinion this was Scott’s most artistic film to date, I love spy movies and he did an amazing job of capturing the look and feel of how a spy movie should be made. The performances by Brad Pitt and Robert Redford were great too; a very underrated film. I think the film failed at the box office because people thought it was going to be another James Bond type of a movie but it’s not.
5. Revenge (1990)
This is probably my second favorite film of Kevin Costner right behind The Untouchables. What kept this film from being great was that I thought it ended so quickly, I felt it could’ve use another hour of story telling. I think Quentin Tarantino named this film as one of this favorites ever; do check it out if you’ve never seen it.
Rest in Peace Tony Scott. Thank you for your movies.
Now, what’s your favorite Tony Scott film(s)?