Great Scott: Tony’s Top Ten Tribute

Today’s sad news of the death of legendary director Tony Scott has come as a shock for most of us. Though overshadowed by his older brother Ridley’s groundbreaking work, such as ALIEN and BLADE RUNNER, Tony was always the more consistent director, and one with a stunning visual style all of his own. His paced edits and zooms have been copied by many a filmmaker, but never surpassed. He began his Hollywood career with brooding vampire thriller THE HUNGER, and was also famous for his commercials and television hits, as well as forming production company Scott Free with his sibling.

Coming from the same small North East of England town both Tony and Ridley were born, our area has always been extremely proud of what the brothers have achieved during their respective careers. I think it’s only fitting to look back at Tony Scott’s terrific output. He worked with many of the same actors time and again, with the likes of Denzel Washington, Gene Hackman, Christopher Walken, Val Kilmer and Mickey Rourke cropping up numerous times in his work, each of whom obviously trusted his judgement and enjoying collaborating.

10. REVENGE (1990)

Kevin Costner headlines as recently released Naval officer who wonders how to fill his free time. His decision to visit and stay with an old, powerful pal turns out to be a fatal mistake, as he falls for the friend’s stunning and much younger wife Miryea (Madeline Stowe). The great Anthony Quinn plays Costner’s ruthless chum, who is not prepared to tolerate such a betrayal of his trust. REVENGE is a nail-biting thriller, with a brutal portrayal from Quinn, who makes certain Costner and Stowe pay for their actions.

9. THE FAN (1996)

Mauled on its initital release, baseball psychodrama THE FAN sees Robert De Niro gain an unhealthy obsession with Wesley Snipes’ superstar slugger, who struggles to adapt to his new team. The film is a thrilling watch, with De Niro on unnerving and unhinged duties. After the likes of CAPE FEAR and TAXI DRIVER, perhaps many had seen enough of De Niro in basket-case mode, but it’s the scenes of him as a devoted father to his young son that hit home. He puts compassion into the flawed (and frightening) figure, prepared to cross any line to ensure his star player gets to the top of his game.

8. UNSTOPPABLE (2010)

Scott’s final film was an enjoyable true-life tale, following engineers Denzel Washington and Chris Pine’s attempt to stop a runaway train carrying toxic chemicals from crashing into their beloved town. The banter between the duo is what gives the film its heart, while the chaos in the control room amps up the tension. The nail-biting finish is what cinema was made for, and with a fine crowd cheering finale that makes us put our faith back in humanity.

7. DEJA VU (2006)

Scott gave his familiar action style a significant science-fiction overhaul as he re-teamed with Washington. Here he plays ATF agent Doug Carlin, who attempts to put together the pieces of a puzzle to track down terrorist Jim Caviezel. He soon becomes suspicious that the supporting team monitoring events, headed by Val Kilmer, are hiding secrets of the sophisticated hardware at their disposal. Just how are they able to see into the past? Washington discovers time-travel is possible and turns back the clock to stop a bomb before it kills thousands.

 

6. CRIMSON TIDE (1995)

Washington and Scott’s first collaboration was this claustrophobic submarine-set thriller, with Gene Hackman and Denzel clashing over protocol after losing contact with their superiors. Tensions rise, chests puff, and mutiny is forced by both sides as trigger happy Hackman wants to attack the Russians, while Washington wants to wait before starting World War III. It’s terrific to see each of them try to gain support from their fellow crew members, which includes James Galdolfini, Viggo Mortensen, George Dzundza and Matt Craven.

5. TOP GUN (1986)

The film that set Scott on the his way in cementing his own unique style and made Tom Cruise the superstar he now is. TOP GUN was a teenage action fan’s wet dream, featuring Cruise as up-and-coming fighter pilot Maverick, seen as an outcast amongst the big boys. The fist-pumping soundtrack, ground-breaking photography and the lovely Kelly McGillis all come together to make the film the homoerotic classic it’s now known as. Scott was developing the sequel with Cruise set to return before today’s sad announcement.

4. ENEMY OF THE STATE (1998)

Jon Voight’s corrupt politician targets Will Smith’s rising lawyer Robert Dean, when he unknowingly receives evidence of a major political crime. Gene Hackman is awesome (reminiscent of his classic role in Francis Ford Coppola’s THE CONVERSATION) as the experienced surveillance expert helping Smith bring down the bad guys . There is also an ace supporting cast, featuring Stuart Wilson, Jack Black, Tom Sizemore and THN fave Barry Pepper, each doing their part in keeping the chase as thrilling as possible.

3. THE LAST BOY SCOUT (1991)

Bruce Willis as cynical detective Joe Hallenback and (the usually annoying) Damon Wayans plays over-the-hill footballer Jimmy Dix, forming an unlikely friendship when investigating the murder of a pro football team. The quotable movie (from a Shane Black script) is a classic 90s cop-thriller that never lets up on the action. There are plenty stand out set pieces with some stunning shoot-outs, and the rain-drenched finale is unforgettable. But it’s Willis and Wayan’s wisecracking that makes THE LAST BOY SCOUT so memorable.

2. MAN ON FIRE (2004)

Christopher Walken’s character Rayburn perhaps says it best with the line – ‘Creasey’s art is death. He’s about to paint his masterpiece.’ Denzel is once again in the lead, and this is easily the best of the duo’s five collaborations. He plays former operative Creasey, who goes on a one-man rampage when young Dakota Fanning is kidnapped by Mexican mercenaries. There are so many stand-out scenes, and Washington’s warpath leaves nobody unpunished. Brian Helgeland’s script is brutal and unforgiving, especially once Creasey’s mission gets under way and has him doing what he does best!

1. TRUE ROMANCE (1993)

A modern oft-quoted classic from a script by a young fellow you just may have heard of, Quentin Tarantino. Scott’s TRUE ROMANCE sees Christian Slater’s Clarence fall for Patricia Arquette’s hooker Alabama, only to have his heartfelt plea to pimp Drexyl (Gary Oldman) set in motion a bloodbath involving the mob, the FBI and everyone in-between. There are so many iconic scenes in TRUE ROMANCE it’s difficult to mention them all. However, who can forget Christopher Walken’s chilling ‘eggplant’ exchange with Dennis Hopper or that slow-mo shoot out in the breathless, bloody finale.

Rest in peace Tony, you’ll be sadly missed by all of us here at The Hollywood News.

 

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Craig is leading the charge as our north east correspondent, proving that it’s so ‘grim up north’ that losing yourself in a world of film is a foregone prerequisite. He has been studying the best (and often worst) of both classic and modern cinema at the University of Life for as long as he can remember. Craig’s favorite films include THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, JFK, GOODFELLAS, SCARFACE, and most of John Carpenter’s early work, particularly THE THING and HALLOWEEN.

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