Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Top Five Tony Scott Films

As some regular readers here may have already noticed, I don’t usually make posts inspired by current events, anniversaries, or special occasions, even when it’s something I have a personal interest in, but this time I feel so inclined. The recent and sudden death of Tony Scott shocked the movie world, both those who work within and us fans who watch from afar. The exact details of his suicide are still far from certain – they may always be – but the fact remains that we’ve lost a remarkable talent. His friends and family will of course feel the loss the most but for the vast majority of us who didn’t actually know him, the extent of our loss will be felt by the absence of more of his distinctive, thrilling films.

Although well known as the younger brother of Ridley as well as in his own right, he actually started his directorial career before his sibling. It wasn’t until the mid-80’s that he hit the big-time though, with the same film that also propelled Tom Cruise into the stratosphere at the same time. Unlike his brother, the films that followed, right up to recent years, were usually action blockbusters featuring some of the biggest stars in the world including regular collaborators such as Cruise and Denzel Washington. There were and are of course numerous directors doing this but Tony’s films usually had one big difference – they were good! I’m sure we all have our favourites from his filmography, such is the success and popularity of his movies, but here are my picks:

5. The Last Boy Scout (1991)

I've always felt that this was something of an underrated actioner. It brought in a fairly decent return at the box office I believe, but it wasn’t exactly hyped like most big-name action films were in the day. Indeed, the first I heard of it was when it became my dad’s latest addition to his VHS collection! It stars Bruce Willis as a disgraced ex-Secret Service agent now working as private investigator and Damon Wyans as a former US 'football' star, both of whom unwittingly wind up working together and involved in a sports gambling conspiracy. Like many such films, and many of Scott’s films in fact, the story isn’t complicated and none of the actors will be winning any Oscars, but it’s got a decent script full of witty one-liners and is directed really stylishly. Damon Wyans' fashion sense may have dated somewhat but it's a tremendously entertaining film which remains one of Scott's most rewatchable efforts.

4. Top Gun (1986)

Near enough everyone in the world must’ve seen this film by now which, as well as being an enormous success at the time of its release and launching several careers in the process, has also gone on to be regarded as one of the finest films of the 80’s and one of the best action films of all-time – quite an impressive achievement considering that neither Scott nor Cruise were particularly well known at the time. There’s also a lot of other notable talent involved and the film made the Navy/Air Force look spectacularly cool, but it really is a testament to Scott’s directorial talents, as well as Cruise’s charisma of course, that despite featuring little in the way of story, Top Gun remains one of the most iconic and solidly entertaining two hours on either star’s CV.

3. Man on Fire (2004)

Tony returned to Denzel for his leading man for the second time here but the character he was to portray would be some way from the submarine commander of Crimson Tide. This time he's John Creasy, a despondent former CIA operative who's offered a job as a bodyguard while visiting a friend in Mexico. At first he keeps his distance from the young girl he's been hired to protect (played by the scarily good Dakota Fanning) but they soon form a friendship - right up until she gets kidnapped which sees Creasy transform into the angry fellow of the title! As you might therefore expect, it’s a film split fairly evenly into two distinct halves. The first shows the softening of Creasy as his faith in humanity is gradually restored whilst the second is a violent revenge rampage! Both feature some superb scenes and acting and are shot using a pretty distinctive fast-paced, multiple-angled style, which divided some fans but I thought it was great. One of the best revenge films? It'd certainly be up there...

2. Crimson Tide (1995)

There's not too many submarine films around but the ones that do exist are mostly outstanding in my experience. Tony Scott's effort takes places against the backdrop of a unstable post-Soviet Russia in which some pesky rogue generals have taken control of a Russian nuclear installation amongst other things. The US respond by sending their own nuclear sub, the Alabama, to the region to keep their eye on the situation which seems to be worsening when the Alabama's communication system is damaged, preventing them from being able to confirm apparent orders to launch a nuclear strike. This results in its Captain, played by Gene Hackman, coming to blows with his new XO, played by Denzel over how to proceed. It wasn't an especially popular film with the US Navy but I think they're the only ones who didn't like it! Career-best performances from Washington and Hackman combined with masterful suspense from the superb director equals a truly superb film. Still arguably my favourite military-based thriller.

1. True Romance (1993)

I'm not sure how but I'd barely heard of this film the first time I saw it. I'm not sure I can even remember how I chanced upon it, I think someone at work must've lent it to me, but one thing I do know is how I felt after I'd seen it - holy crap, what a film! Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette have probably never been as hot as they are here but the entire cast Scott assembled is quite amazing - Dennis Hopper, Val Kilmer, Gary Oldman, Brad Pitt, Christopher Walken, Michael Rapaport... the list goes on. On top of that, he was blessed with one of the best scripts Tarantino has produced, full of the snappy, quotable dialogue that shot him to fame, and the result was one of my most memorable 'movie surprises' ever! It's one long (well, two hour) roller-coaster ride of violence as well as unexpected humour, and is still in my opion one of the finest crime capers of all-time.

Tony Scott: 21 June 1944 - 19 August 2012...


  1. Have you seen the Will Smith film Enemy of the State? I reckon that's a very underrated Tony Scott film and one of my personal favourites that I love to watch.

  2. Yep, I've got it on DVD, it's a great film :) That was the problem with compiling this list - it wasn't just exaggerated sentiment because he died - Tony Scott really has made loads of great films! :)