Wednesday, 22 August 2012


At just 68 years young, Tony Scott - the little brother of Ridley but by no means the lesser sibling - is no longer with us, leaving behind a wife, two children and a back catalogue of films that, whilst never award-winners, were none-the-less crowd-pleasers to varying degrees.

Scott's body of work, not unlike his brother's, was born out of commercials where messages/information must successfully come across in a very short space of time. He seemed to keep this ethos with him as his films were all about fast edits and quick cuts - infact some said that the same amount of information and substance that would be contained in one of his three minute commercials was to be found in his 120+ minute films. Whether you agreed with this point of view, it was one of his commercials that would change his career and for some, their cinema experience, giving them a slew of iconic imagery, cool cuts and desirable dialogue. His SAAB commercial where the car raced against a jet fighter came to the attention of two "wanna-be-famous" producers " who needed someone to helm their little film about posing in-training pilots and their fighter planes...

TOP GUN (1986)
The film that announced the arrival of Scott, put the producing duo of Simpson & Bruckheimer on the map and launched a million female (and male) pounding hearts due to Cruise and Kilmer and their beach volleyball shenanigans, would forever be a defining pillar of 80's movies. Seen by many critics as "style above substance," it none-the-less created queues that stretched around the block, queues outside the Air Force recruiting booths and queues for Aviator sunglasses.

After the success of their Top Gun, the trio of Simpson & Bruckheimer and Scott were allowed to continue the good fortune (and box office) of Eddie Murphy's wise-cracking cop Axel Foley from Beverly Hills Cop. More frenetic than it's predecessor, their sequel, continued to build on what what become their trademarks - fast action and plenty of it with camera movers to match. More set pieces, more humour and more senseless action and violence, Beverly Hills Cop II was yet another success for Scott and his mentor producers.

It had to happen at some point, and the "Top Gun with cars" idea was it - the bubble had burst with their third collaboration. The production started without a script and the "style before substance" technique was never more evident then here where critics and audiences turned their backs on it despite Cruise's raised popularity and the on-screen/off-screen romance between the two leads, Cruise and Kidman.

A personal favourite of mine, this is where a perfect combination of writer, directer and actor culminated in a truly too-cool, way-funny flick of a film! Shane Black's black comedy script matched Scott's slightly calmer camerawork approach and took full advantage of Willis' ever-strong shining star. Cracking dialogue and a bonkers story - Scott couldn't fail!

After the successful pairing of Scott with producer Joel Silver on The Last Boy Scout, he moved onto the Weinstein Brothers for his next, and arguably coolest film, not only of his career, but of all time! Quentin Tarantino's ice-cold script paired with a who's who of hip stars gave Scott the opportunity to relax even more with his crazy camerawork and let the audience watch the screen rather than hold on for dear life during it! An instant cult and destined to be quoted forever!

Returning to the fold of Simpson & Bruckheimer, Scott returned to the low-on-script, high-on-style story of two men at loggerheads (not like the strained relationship of the producers). This was also a milestone as it was the first of many pairings of Scott with Denzel Washington and, not unlike the effect to Top Gun (but not nearly as much), it saw a increase in recruits for the US Armed Forces. Scott wisely brought Tarantino in to polish up the script after the praise for the True Romance screenplay and another hit was in the bag.

Regardless of whether you liked the mans body of work, there's no denying the impressive amount of work he delivered - especially when you think of how directors now seem to take anything up to three or four years between their films hitting the silver screen. His shaky hand-held camerawork; the fast edits; the sometimes stupidity of the story - all these gained Tony Scott a fanbase and some of the ingredients mixed correctly did indeed deliver modern classics that even the harshest of critics couldn't completely shoot down.

Not a true favourite of mine, the loss of director Tony Scott is still a tragic one. Especially when you realise what his CV contained. When he did good, he did great. 

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