Opinion: Tony Scott – A Filmmaker Who Moved With The Times
Tony Scott was one of the unsung heroes of Hollywood. As a director and producer he managed to deliver movies which where both visually stunning and engaging to the audience. As a master of the action genre, Scott’s films didn’t just wash over you – they stayed with you, serving up some of the most iconic movie images of the last thirty years.
Starting out in television, directing ads and commercials, Tony worked closely with his elder brother Ridley Scott at his commercial production company and subsequently gained a keen eye for onscreen visuals. It was only until his brother started to make a name for himself in cinema that Tony became interested in feature films. He began enthusiastically with vampire horror The Hunger (1983), which starred David Bowie, Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon. It was panned by the critics but has since gained a cult following due to its weird and wonderful onscreen visuals. It was a few years later however, that Scott’s movie career would really take off.
In 1986, Scott was chosen to direct what would become his most famous film, Top Gun, which remains an ‘80s classic and made a star out of Tom Cruise. Other highlights included Beverly Hills Cop II (1987), Days of Thunder (1990), True Romance (1993), Crimson Tide (1995), Enemy of the State (1998), and Man on Fire (2004). All of them became quintessential Tony Scott movies as cinemagoers couldn’t get enough of the high-octane, fast-paced sequences which ran throughout. Scott’s hidden talent as a filmmaker however was his ability to move with the times and its technology – whilst maintaining a high level of entertainment in the process.
Not many filmmakers can continue to stamp their mark on an ever-evolving industry such as cinema. Films like Top Gun & Beverley Hills Cop II are deemed quintessentially ‘80s, whilst True Romance – written by Quentin Tarantino – remains a considerably fresh and hip ‘90s film. Then heading into the new millennium Scott gave us the hugely enjoyable Enemy of the State with its focus on government paranoia and technology – both of which are hallmarks of most action films today.
Scott also managed to attract some of Hollywood’s biggest names to his projects as the likes of Tom Cruise, Gene Hackman, and Denzel Washington all became Scott-regulars. He also teamed up with mega-producers Don Simpson & Jerry Bruckheimer on many occasions as his Hollywood productions became bigger, louder, and faster. Not bad for someone who came from a small coal-mining town in the north-east of England, and of course for someone who remained in the constant shadow of his older, Oscar-nominated brother.
Ridley is more acknowledged throughout the industry – perhaps rightly so as some of his films remain landmarks of cinema – but Tony stuck to what he did best, inevitably taking the action film to new heights which has, and will continue to, influence a genre which is all about entertaining and enthralling audiences. Together they formed their own production company, Scott Free Productions, which produced a number of US television dramas including Numb3rs and The Good Wife, as well as its latest blockbuster film Prometheus (2012).
With a solid body of work spanning the best part of three decades, Tony Scott will be sorely missed. In the days to come there will be no doubt numerous messages and tweets from filmmakers and actors alike who share their admiration for an individual whose films will remain a part of cinema’s never-ending journey.
A hugely underrated British filmmaker who loved and made movies for what they were – pure entertainment.