Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Good, The Bland, and The Ugly: Tony Scott


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.

12 comments:

  1. It's a rarity for me to have seen every movie by one director. I never thought I was a huge Tony Scott fan, but when looking at his filmography I was surprised that I had in fact seen them all. So after much thought here it is...
    The Good: Of course True Romance is great, but since you picked it I will go with my back-up, Crimson Tide. The tension in such a claustrophobic setting with the fast paced dialogue makes a great updated "Mutiny On The Bounty". I love every second.
    The Bland:The Taking Of Pelham 1 2 3: It's not a bad movie, in fact it is fun, but nothing that will be remembered for years to come.
    The Bad:The Fan. I love De Niro, but I don't know what was going on with this one. It just seems sad.

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    1. I completely agree with you on Taking of Pelham 1 2 3. It does not hit the heights of the original, which is a great film, but it was still enjoyable.

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  2. Interesting take on a 'tribute' to Tony Scott. I think for me, the Good would definitely be Spy Game. I thought Taking of Pelham 123 is rather bland. Not sure what the bad would be as I haven't seen The Fan or Domino yet. I quite enjoyed Déjà Vu though it certainly had many flaws.

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    1. Spy Game had its moments but it felt like Redford was just passing the Hollywood torch on to his successor Pitt.

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  3. Phips1:10 pm

    glad you chose True Romance. My #2 fav film....it so good and so underrated. id throw Top Gun in there too. I love that film. Might have to watch it this week to honor TS.

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    1. True Romance is a great film. I know it rubs some people the wrong way but I think it is a blast to watch.

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  4. I haven't seen all of Tony Scott's films but from what I've seen. Here's how I'll group them.

    The Good: True Romance, Top Gun, Days of Thunder, The Last Boy Scout, Crimson Tide, and Man on Fire.

    The Bland: The Hunger, Beverly Hills Cop II, Enemy of the State, and Domino.

    The Ugly: Revenge and The Fan.

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    1. I was never fond of Days of Thunder, probably because I was never that big into Nascar.

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  5. Enemy of the State, bland?! I still think it stands as a thrilling, fast-paced, intelligent movie.

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    1. Enemy of the State is enjoyable to watch but it is not that memorable. It never truly reaches the level of paranoia that it strives for.

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  6. I haven't seen all of his movie but some of them I really liked

    The good - Man on Fire
    The bland - Deja Vu
    The ugly - Domino

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    1. I know many people who think highly of Man on Fire. While I liked the look of the film, the overall story never really grabbed me.

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