This week I won’t be expressing my views on a certain mode or style of film. Instead I shall pay my respects to the recently departed Tony Scott.
For those of you who may not know, Tony Scott was a
British born film-maker and co-founder of the production company ‘Scott Free’. He had a very distinct style which was similar to Michael Bay’s action films, however with more grit and panache. The majority of Tony’s film were placed into the action genre, directing films such as ‘Top Gun’, ‘Deja-Vu’, ‘Domino’, ‘Spy Game’, ‘The Taking of Pelham 123′ and ‘Unstoppable’. However, he did spill over into the thriller realm with ‘Enemy Of The State’ and ‘The Fan’. The films which truly stood out for me from Tony’s catalogue of film was ‘True Romance’ and ‘Man On Fire’.
Both of these films reflect completely different style, the later showing his grittier, more visual edits; playing with white and colour balance, distorting shots and audio, as well as quick paced editing and heavy grading. Both of these two films stand out above the rest mainly due to their character development. Tony didn’t write either films, however he did direct them (obviously) and a well written script can come out absolutely shit because of the directing and style placed over it. Thankfully Tony never suffered this dilemma. He was able to direct the large ensemble cast of ‘True Romance’ to perfection, creating a film about two lovers trying to make a life for themselves whilst being chased by drug dealers and the FBI. Even though Clarence is quite a selfish character and Alabama is very gullible you can’t help but like them through Tony’s direction.
‘Man On Fire’ offers more depth, and to me is quintessential Tony Scott. The film follows Creasy (Denzel Washington), an ex-CIA agent who has given up on life. Scott’s use of editing and grading intensified the lifestyle which Creasy had become accustomed to; one lived by the bottle and contemplation of suicide. The distorted visuals and audio and play on colour balance enhanced Washington’s already solid performance. The film builds on the relationship between the protector (Creasy) and the victim (Pita, the girl Creasy is assigned to protect) and the subsequent struggles Creasy faces trying to save her once she is kidnapped. The story is a classic narrative; a deep, closed shelled character is opened by a young innocent character, to which a close relationship develops. However with Scott’s action style with all guns blazing, the search for young Pita is enhanced; Scott follows a no-mercy form of revenge, specifically showing that this character will stop at nothing.
Scott had the chance of working with many great acting names, and it seemed was able to push their performances more. The likes of Denzel Washington (who he collaborated with on numerous films), Will Smith (whose performance in ‘Enemy Of The State’ showed he could be an action figure which didn’t have to be quirky), Dakota Fanning, Christian Slater, Christopher Walken, Dennis Hopper, Gary Oldman, Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, John Travolta and Robert Redford.
He was never as critically successful as his older brother Ridley Scott. Now I wanted to avoid Ridley simply because this blog is dedicated to Tony, but I felt I had to mention this. Rildey’s films certainly do carry a style to them and have more meaningful and thought provoking narratives. However you can spot a Tony Scott film a mile off simply from the style and direction. This is sometimes a bad thing, but in this instance it’s not. It’s like comparing being able to spot a Kevin Smith or Quentin Tarantino film a mile off because of the content, the same can be said about Tony Scott.
I have always respected Tony Scott as a film-maker and will continue to in his death. RIP Tony Scott.