Today, many woke up to the shocking and saddening news that director Tony Scott is dead after an jumping off a San Pedro bridge in what is being reported as an apparent suicide. Tony (brother of Prometheus director, Ridley Scott), leaves behind an indelible mark in filmmaking. Tony worked with some of the biggest names in Hollywood, Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Bruce Willis and Denzel Washington who starred in five of Tony Scott’s 16 feature films. Tony and his brother Ridley set up a production company called Scott Free Productions in 1995 which helped create such televisions shows as Numb3rs, The Good Wife and the new series, Coma about to premiere on A&E this September.
Killer Reviews takes a look back at the career of Tony Scott and ranks his filmography with an appreciation and a heavy heart.
Starring Kevin Costner, Anthony Quinn and Madeline Stowe, Revenge told the story of a career Navy man who takes a vacation and falls for a Mexican businessman’s wife only to realize the powerful and vindictive nature of her husband. The film was met without much critical or audience appreciation and grossed only $15 million at the box office (ranking 78th in 1990’s releases). The film had style and shows the quality of Scott’s work. If Revenge is the worst film on your resume, you are doing very well.
The Fan (1996)
Robert DeNiro played an obsessed baseball fan who first befriends then terrorizes a baseball star played by Wesley Snipes. DeNiro is usually dead on when playing crazy (see The Untouchables, Cape Fear), but the script for The Fan couldn’t live up to the star power in the cast.
Beverley Hills Cop II (1987)
Scott took over the directing duties to continue the story of Detroit cop Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) who again finds himself in Beverley Hills trying to solve a crime. The story was so over the top 80’s that it was hard to swallow – especially after the raw realism of the original. Still, the movie was a huge box office hit and spawned a soundtrack that went gold.
Promoted as ‘based on a true story’, Dominio told the story of actor Laurence Harvey’s daughter who went from runway model to bounty hunter. The film was rife with style, but low on entertainment value. Keira Knightley and Mickey Rourke do their best, but the film is too low on substance.
Déjà vu (2006)
One of the five films Tony directed starring Denzel Washington, Déjà vu starred the Oscar winner as an ATF agent who is able to travel back in time to save a woman from being murdered. The plot gets complicated as the clock ticks down to the woman’s fate and as our hero beings to fall in love with the woman he is trying to protect. The film was an interesting mix of action and science fiction but only grossed $60 million domestically. Fortunately, as is the case with most of Tony Scott’s films, the movie did exceptional worldwide adding another $118 million to its bankroll making Déjà vu a money maker for the studio.
Spy Game (2001)
It should have been a match made in Hollywood Heaven. The old guard passing the torch to the new. But the drama/thriller/action film starring Robert Redford and Brad Pitt just wasn’t deep enough to exploit the best actors from their respective generations. Spy Game was also the first film where Tony Scott began experimenting with a style that he would use countless times over the next 11 years with out of focus, tilted camera shots and lots of zoom in and outs in an almost manic succession.
Days of Thunder (1990)
Scott worked with Tom Cruise for a second time on this film about a young hotshot race driver that looks to make a name for himself on the Nascar circuit. The film grossed $82 million domestically which must have been considered a disappointment considering that Scott and Cruise worked together on the hugely successful Top Gun a few years earlier. Still, through all the cheese that was so prominent in movies of its era, Days of Thunder still holds up as an entertaining piece of fluff.
The Last Boy Scout (1991)
Bruce Willis starred in this action film as a private investigator who uncovers murder and corruption in the world of college football. Full of quick smart-ass jokes (the script was penned by Shane Black) and plenty of gunfire, The Last Boy Scout remains a film that many of us consider a ‘guilty pleasure’.
The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (2009)
Denzel Washington teamed up with Tony for a fourth time on The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3. This remake of a Walter Matthau/Robert Shaw film of 1974 co-stared John Travolta who plays the villain who hijacks a subway train in modern day New York City. Washington and Travolta give it their all in a serviceable action film.
Man on Fire (2004)
Tony and Denzel teamed up again for a film about a former assassin (Washington) that plans his vengeance on those responsible for a violent act against the family he was assigned to protect. Good action and a real great performance by Denzel made Man of Fire one of their better collaborations.
The Hunger (1983)
Long before Hollywood vampires sparkled, Tony Scott directed this stylish and sensual film about an Egyptian lady vampire who takes the blood of her lovers leaving the victims with the curse of never aging. Susan Sarandon and David Bowie co-starred in this weird but essential vampire classic.
Another Scott/Washington collaboration and another film which was based on a actual events. Unstoppable starring Washington and Chris Pine as two train conductors who are called upon to help stop another runaway train that threatens many small towns and cities in its path. The film was full of edge of your seat moments and grossed a respectable $80 million at the domestic box office. Sadly, this would mark the last time Tony Scott would be behind a camera.
Enemy of the State (1998)
Still a budding star, Will Smith starred with Gene Hackman in this highly enjoyable thriller that was secretly considered a sequel of sorts to Hackman’s The Conversation (1974). The film was a highly satisfying thriller that maintains its early momentum.
Crimson Tide (1995)
The first collaboration between Scott and Washington, Crimson Tide takes place on a US nuclear missile submarine where a first office (Washington) stages a mutiny against his was hunger captain (Hackman) from launching nuclear missiles before the orders are confirmed. With script touch ups by Quentin Tarantino, the movie is taut with tension and delivers the best performances in any of Tony’s efforts.
Top Gun (1986)
Quite possibly the most popular movie of the 1980’s. Top Gun starred young Tom Cruise as a hotshot student of a US flying school for fighter pilots who battles both his inner demons and his love for one of his instructors. The movie was the top grossing film of 1986 raking in $380 million and solidified Tom Cruise’s mark as a bonafide action star.
True Romance (1993)
Although Tarantino has tried to distance himself from this star studded film, True Romance is Tony Scott’s best work. With a cast that included Christopher Walken, Brad Pitt, Christian Slater and Dennis Hopper, the film was a smart action packed thriller that holds up wonderfully almost 20 years later. The exchange between Walken’s character and the interrogated Hopper character is one of the best scenes of two veteran actors working with superior dialogue ever. True Romance is not only Scott’s best, but it is also a Hollywood classic.