Tragic news appeared today that director Tony Scott has died at the age of 68 from an apparent suicide. He had directed mostly studio action movies to little critical success, but scored some bit hits along the way. His prolific output varied in quality quite a bit, but he made one truly great film and plenty of decent ones. I decided in the wake of the news to run down my favourite films of his. I haven’t quite seen all of them, (‘Revenge’ and ‘The Taking of Pelham 123’ remake have eluded me) but will do my best. Unfortunately ‘Top Gun’ still remains his most popular and well-known film, I’ve never cared for it in the slightest and it will not feature here. He was also involved in producing a number of excellent films, ‘The Assassination of Jesse James’ and ‘The Grey’ to name a couple.
05 ‘The Last Boy Scout’
It’s been years since I’ve seen this, and really can’t write much without re-watching it, but I recall enjoying it in my teens as a fun action movie of the 80s/early 90s variety with Bruce Willis at his wisecracking best.
In what proved to be his final film as a director, he took a potentially ludicrous and simplistic but actually fact based story, and crafted an incredibly exciting chase film about a train that can’t stop. No, honestly, it’s great.
03 ‘Crimson Tide’
This mid-90s war movie takes place almost entirely on a submarine, and manages to tackle relevant political and military issues while still being a thrilling action-packed blockbuster laced with comedic pop-culture referencing dialogue (courtesy of script doctor Quentin Tarantino) and boasting a wonderfully bombastic Hans Zimmer score.
02 ‘Enemy of the State’
An expertly directed spy film, starring Will Smith at the height of his late 90s fame, and an excellent example of that decades fascination with government conspiracies, plus Gene Hackman unofficially reprising his role from ‘The Conversation’. Thrilling stuff.
01 ‘True Romance’
Of course it had to be this at the top spot. One of Quentin Tarantino’s first scripts is the story many a lonely film geek wished they could write if they had the talent. For my money it’s still the best thing he’s written, and something I feel he could only have done prior to achieving the success he now has. Scott brings it to life wonderfully, making it perhaps more conventional than Tarantino would, he still gets so much into it. There are a vast number of supporting roles, many played by very famous actors, and all completely unique and memorable. I mean really, Gary Oldman as a pimp who thinks he’s black, Brad Pitt as a layabout stoner, Christopher Walken as a mobster, Val Kilmer as Elvis (!) and many more. Not only that though, at its centre, a couple who Scott makes us really root for and care about. Plus, some awesome action sequences (of course), and moments thrilling, funny, and tear-jerking. Most people select ‘The Sicilian Scene’ as the standout but there are so many to choose from. Also another fantastic, but completely different, Hans Zimmer soundtrack, which at Scott’s request intentionally resembles Carl Orff’s music used in ‘Badlands’. When I first watched this as a teenager it was honestly as if someone had made a movie just for me, it was everything I’d wanted from a film.