Pop Rocks: A Tony Scott Retrospective

Great Scott? Eh, he was pretty good.
Great Scott? Eh, he was pretty good.

As you've no doubt heard at some point in the last 36 hours, film director Tony Scott apparently committed suicide Sunday night by jumping off the Vincent Thomas Bridge in San Pedro, CA.

I was never what you'd call a huge fan of the man's movies, but I can't deny they provided a near-constant backdrop to my formative years and beyond. Never as critically acclaimed as big brother Ridley and often criticized for his frenetic directorial style, Scott nonetheless was one of the most successful directors of the 80s and 90s. Whether or not he had inoperable brain cancer (a report that appears to have been shot down), I hate hearing that someone has taken their own life, especially when they're leaving behind young children.

Anyway, I was looking at Scott's filmography and realize I had pretty vivid memories of a lot of his work, which is convenient considering it's getting late and I have to get this written down.

The Hunger (1983) The first Tony Scott movie I ever saw was the first one he ever directed. 1983 was the year my family got Home Box Office, which never failed to provide an insomniac teenager with some entertainment options. I was both freaked out by the vampires and...intrigued by the seduction of Susan Sarandon by Catherine Deneuve (is there a human being alive Catherine Deneuve couldn't seduce?).

The Bauhaus intro is also pretty cool. And this clip is decidedly NSFW.

Top Gun (1986) Saw this on a date with my girlfriend and...fell asleep. I want to blame extenuating circumstances - I think I'd worked outdoors that afternoon - or maybe it was just my brain's way of shutting down when confronted by a half dozen guys in such ridiculously better shape than I was. Pretty sure my girlfriend didn't mind.

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Beverly Hills Cop II (1987) Decidedly inferior to the original, but still entertaining. And Billy going all Rambo was pretty funny.

The Last Boy Scout (1991) I was indifferent to this when it came out, but time and quitting smoking have brought me to appreciate it more. It's certainly Shane Black's nastiest screenplay, and what's that? Halle Berry as a strip club waitress?

Besides, smoking in movies really isn't that cool anymore. For some reason.

 

True Romance (1993) Still my favorite movie of Scott's. You've got a still relevant Christian Slater, a pre-felony Tom Sizemore, a post-Perfect Strangers Bronson Pinchot, Christopher Walken when he was still menacing, James Gandolfini before he was Tony Soprano, and Brad Pitt before he was half of "Brangelina."

And to anyone who still thinks Gary Oldman isn't one of the greatest actors of his generation, I give you Drexl Spivey.

Crimson Tide (1995) This was the first in Scott's five-movie collaboration with Denzel Washington. I remember it more for the argument the movie prompted between me and my then-fiancee about who was in the right. I sided with Captain Ramsey, and still do.

Enemy of the State (1998) Gene Hackman again? This movie was patently ridiculous, and it's when - to me - Scott's "distinctive visual style" started to become a problem.

Spy Game (2001) Kudos to Scott for coaxing Redford out for a rare performance. This is probably the last Tony Scott movie I can recommend without serious reservations.

 

Man On Fire (2004) And it was called yellow. While not the biggest fan of the film itself, I admired Creasy's judicious application of torture to obtain information. I'm told it's not always reliable, but it always seems to work in the movies.

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (2009) I avoided checking this out for two years because of my deep and abiding love for the Joseph Sargent original. Hey, remember when people were talking about Denzel Washington as the greatest actor of his generation?

Unstoppable (2010) Scott's last movie reigned in some of the stylistic tricks that had become legitimate viewing distractions (Domino and Man on Fire practically gave me seizures), but was a lot less exciting than people wanted to give it credit for. Mostly because it turns out all they had to do in order to stop the train was have somebody drive a truck up to the engine cab and hop on board.



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