Gary Collinson selects his Five Essential Films of Tony Scott…
British director Tony Scott’s introduction to the world of film came at 16 when he starred as the lead in Boy and Bicycle (1965), the debut short from older brother Ridley. Tony soon found that his true calling lay behind the camera and, after joining his brother’s advertising agency Ridley Scott Associates, the younger Scott soon forged a successful career directing commercials. By the early 80s Hollywood was calling and Scott soon made the transition to features, gaining a reputation as one of the hottest action directors of the last quarter-century.
With his latest film Unstoppable set for release in November and Scott Free Productions’ The A-Team arriving this summer [trailer here], we present our Five Essential Films of Tony Scott…
5. The Last Boy Scout (1991)
An underrated action-comedy that sees Bruce Willis as a former Secret Service agent turned private eye, who teams up with a retired football player (Damon Wayans) to solve the murder of his girlfriend (a young Halle Berry). Given Scott’s reputation and the combination of headliner Willis, producer Joel Silver (who was rumoured to have clashed with the director and was heavily critical of the film) and screenwriter Shane Black (in a then-record $1.75m deal), The Last Boy Scout should have been a blockbuster smash. Instead it opened to mixed reviews and performed modestly at the box office.
4. Man on Fire (2004)
Teaming with Denzel Washington for the second time, Scott's Man on Fire received mixed reviews from critics but fared better with the movie-going public. Based on English author A. J. Quinnell's 1980 novel (which had earlier reached the screen in 1987 with Scott Glenn in the lead role), Denzel stars as burnt-out former CIA operative John Creasy. Hired by a Mexican businessman to protect his young daughter (Dakota Fanning), the shit hits the fan when kidnappers snatch the girl and demand a ransom. Cue plenty of gunplay and walking away from explosions as Denzel sets out to eliminate those responsible for the crime.
3. Top Gun (1986)
After debut feature The Hunger (1983) was poorly received by critics it would be three years before Scott returned to the big screen with homoerotic 80s action classic Top Gun. Hired by the legendary producing team of Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer (in the first of six collaborations), the director helped refine the high-octane formula that came to be synonymous with the hit-making duo and firmly established his credentials as a force in the genre. With over $350m at the global box-office, Top Gun also made a star out of its lead Tom Cruise and increased US Navy pilot applications by 500%. That's a lot of volleyball fans.
2. Crimson Tide (1995)
Scott's fourth Simpson/Bruckheimer production marks a change pace from earlier action-packed efforts to focus on character - in particular, the conflict between a nuclear submarine captain (Gene Hackman) and second in command (Denzel, in the first of five collaborations between the actor and director) during a period of Russian instability. Featuring uncredited writing from Quentin Tarantino and a Grammy Award-winning Hans Zimmer score, Crimson Tide proved popular with audiences and critics alike and grossed in excess of $150m worldwide. Unlike Top Gun, the film was unable to secure the assistance of the US Navy who objected to the theme of mutiny.
1. True Romance (1993)
In the early 90s Tony Scott was introduced to up-and-coming filmmaker and long-time fan Quentin Tarantino, who provided the director with samples of his work. Scott quickly optioned True Romance (Tarantino declined an offer for Reservoir Dogs) and assembled a talented ensemble including Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Christopher Walken, Gary Oldman, Dennis Hopper and Brad Pitt to bring the crime caper to the screen. Made on a fraction of his usual budget, the resulting film established Scott as a serious director and went on to achieve cult status, while the funds raised from the screenplay set Tarantino on his way to financing his 1992 debut.
The Hunger (1983)
Beverly Hills Cop II (1987)
Enemy of the State (1998)
Spy Game (2001)
Déjà vu (2006)
Five Essential Films of Ridley Scott
Agree? Disagree? We'd love to hear your comments on the list...