Tuesday, August 21, 2012
The Good, The Bland, and The Ugly: Tony Scott
Posted by Courtney Small
The premise of this is simple: if someone, who knows little about the director/actor/etc. in question, asked you to select one film for each of the following three categories below what films would they be?:
1) The Good – A film they should seek out right away
2) The Bland – Not among the best, but still a film they should see.
3) The Ugly – If pressed for time, this is the one film that they should skip in order to squeeze in more hours for the top works.
Keeping this in mind, my three would be as follows:
The Good – I was rather saddened to hear of Tony Scott’s passing on the weekend. While I was never a diehard fan of Scott’s films, I did consider him to be one of the modern auteurs in cinema. Regardless of whether you enjoyed his films or not, there was no denying that Scott had a unique style that many tried to duplicate. While it would be easy for me to select films like Top Gun, Beverly Hills Cop II, Crimson Tide, or even The Hunger in this spot, I am going with True Romance. True Romance was the first Scott film where I was more aware of who was behind the camera than the stars in front of it. The pairing of Tony Scott’s visual style and Quentin Tarantino’s script was a match made in heaven. Scott took a film involving a couple (Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette) on the run with stolen drug money and turned it into a high energy crime romance. Sure there have been numerous films that have tackled the lovers on the run topic before, but few provide violent but giddy fun like True Romance.
The Bland – This was a difficult decision because there were five films I kept going back and forth on. However, at the end of the day, Enemy of the State was the film that fit this category perfectly. Enemy of the State feels like the forgotten step-child when people talk about the works of both Tony Scott and Will Smith. Released in 1998, Enemy of the State is a spy thriller that serves as a cautionary tale of the evils of “Big Brother”. Smith stars as Robert Dean, a man whose life is turned upside down when he comes into possession of a disc that links the National Security Agency to the death of a Congressman. As the NSA tries desperately to get a hold of the disk, they systematically ruin Dean’s image, drain his bank accounts and frame him for various murders. Sure the film has several flaws, but I still find it entertaining.
The Ugly – During the period just after Spy Games, and before The Taking of Pelham 123, Scott released Man on Fire, Domino, and Déjà Vu all hit theatres with various levels of success. I could probably make a case for all three being in this spot. However, Déjà Vu just edges out Domino as the film I would recommend to skip if pressed for time. Of the five Tony Scott / Denzel Washington collaborations, Déjà Vu is the most forgettable. What makes this film so disappointing is that the premise was actually quite interesting. An ATF agent (Denzel Washington) travels back in time to prevent a domestic terrorist attack from occurring. A similar premise worked extremely well in last year’s Source Code. Despite the intriguing premise, the clunky plot and Scott’s over-barring stylistic choices are what hindered Déjà Vu.
What films would you select for each category? Let us know in the comments section.