Today, many people awoke to the tragic news that director Tony Scott had died. A true icon of Hollywood, the tributes poured in from around the world from both fans and some of the most respected film makers in the business. It is a very sad day for film and although the exact details behind his death are unconfirmed we should instead be celebrating his body of work. There have been so many tributes already, but I feel as such an important film maker he deserves all the appraisals he is getting so will give my two cents as a fan of his films.
Scott was a true auteur and his influence upon the action film was unprecedented. Throughout his distinctive career he directed and produced some of the best action films to grace the screen and judging from the countless tributes on social networking sites from his fellow directors he clearly inspired many more.
His most famous film, Top Gun was so iconic it has been permanently embedded into the cinematic canon forever. The simple story of a group of advanced fighter pilots has cemented its place within Hollywood history. If you were to ask anybody for a Tom Cruise film it’s most likely they would say Top Gun. Such an important film of the 1980s, the amount of memorable scenes and images stay with the viewer for a lifetime. It was an amazing achievement from Scott and even if this was the only film a director was remembered for it would have been considered a triumph of a career.
However, Scott continued to make some of the most memorable and important action films of the 1990’s including another collaboration with Tom Cruise on Days of Thunder before teaming up with writer Shane Black on The Last Boy Scout, and arguably his greatest True Romance where the collaboration between Scott and Tarantino on scriptwriting duties created one of the sharpest, violent and most entertaining films of the decade.
This was followed up with the Nuclear Sub thriller Crimson Tide which would start a successful period of collaboration between Scott and Denzel Washington that created some of the most intense thrillers that continued into the noughties, with the stand out Man On Fire providing one of the most energetic and fierce films I’ve ever seen. The whole cast spearheaded by Washington, including an incredible performance from a very young Dakota Fanning are truly special with the film encapsulating the zenith of the artistic auteurship of Scott. Through Man on Fire it shows he was never afraid to take risks as a film maker and went all out to make the best movie for the audience possible. His fast cuts, intensity and violence provide some of the most exciting thrillers and with Enemy of the State and the underrated remake of The Taking of Pelham 123 providing templates of how to make an action thriller. He has consistently produced these great, fast paced, intensive films more recently with Déjà Vu and Unstoppable.
Tony Scott’s influence as both a director and producer will echo throughout the action thrillers of years to come. Film makers already try to capture his kinetic energy within their action scenes and his body of work will encourage the action film makers of the future, even if they don’t even realise it. He is a massive influence in the genre and film making in general and has left a legacy that will stay with us for years to come.
RIP Tony Scott.