The sad news has broken (and been solidly confirmed) that director Tony Scott has taken his own life by leaping from the Vincent Thomas Bridge near Long Beach, California. You can find more information concerning the circumstances of his death at the link or any traditional news outlet. Here, we simply have a toast to raise to a pioneer of the hyperactive, the glossy, the ass-kicking, and the plain goddamn entertaining…
The Hunger, Top Gun, Beverly Hills Cop II, Revenge, Days of Thunder, The Last Boy Scout, True Romance, Crimson Tide, The Fan, Enemy of the State, Spy Game, Man on Fire, Domino, Déjà Vu, The Taking of Pelham 123, Unstoppable…
That’s not a directorial career to scoff at. It’s one full of commercial mega hits, transgressive blockbusters, trend-setting action flicks, and a very definitive vision of commercial filmmaking that inspired more than one sea change in the way action was shot and cut. Let’s be real: Tony Scott was not always making work on a level that was coherent or smartly constructed, but it was almost always pure, and more often than not the work was cutting-edge entertainment with balls, and even when it crossed the line into indulgence, it did so in a way that could not be ignored.
Add to all of that a penchant for choosing super sharp scripts on which to unleash his frenetic vision, as well as a long history of demonstrating impeccable taste, having produced some truly top shelf projects — recent works like The Grey and The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford immediately come to mind. Even the small, quirky stuff could find a friend in Scott, as the Duplass Brothers discovered with Cyrus.
Top Gun will lead the major headlines, but I assume it will be True Romance and The Last Boyscout that top the lists of people who actually know Scott’s name off the top of their heads as they hear the news. For me, it’s Enemy of the State that comes to mind along with those classics- even 15 years ago our surveillance state was already taking shape, but who could guess Scott’s hyper-paranoid vision of a shrinking world would come so violently true so soon? And to turn your huge blockbuster action flick into a spiritual sequel to The Conversation? That’s some next level shit right there.
Please, share your favorite Scott film or moment in the comments below, and let’s think fondly back on a career and a man who knew how to make action films that, even when they were thinking with balls instead of brains, had a sophisticated, confident vision holding them together. The generation of hacks and style-biters that have followed Scott and diluted action cinema into something weak and fake demonstrates just how much skill it took to tread the line between retarded and awesome. It’s a line that Scott had no problem pissing all over before hopping in a train with no brakes, flanked by F-16s and roaring racecars to blaze into the sunset.
Our thoughts are with the Scott family, and we can only hope that, despite being an evidently troubled man, Tony’s life was not without at least as much as he managed to provide for us so many times.
RIP Tony Scott: June 21st, 1944 – August 19th, 2012