Occupation: Director, producer
Born: June 21st, 1944
Nationality: British (UK)
Works: Top Gun, Crimson Tide, The Last Boy Scout, True Romance, Enemy of the State, Spy Game, Man on Fire, Deja Vu, The Taking of Pelham 123, Unstoppable
Since stepping out of his brother Ridley’s shadow with the revered neo-noir True Romance in 1993, Tony Scott has proven himself an influential yet polarising auteur filmmaker. With his style a prime example for many of a director’s vision distracting from the original story, others view his style as a step ahead of many crime/action film directors.
His style involves a mixture of several extreme editing and camera techniques. Considered a defining director in the modern Hollywood style of filmmaking, he continually creates the perfect tone when tackling the explicit subjects he regularly approaches. In the 2004 revenge flick Man on Fire, detailing the story of a girl kidnapped by a dangerous Mexican gang, Scott focuses on the emotional impact of this situation, rather than the action film elements of the narrative. The visuals in Man on Fire, and many other films in Scott’s filmography, reflect both the intensity of the situation and the damaged mindset of the lead character. In Man on Fire, Denzel Washington’s character Creasy is a former alcoholic and gun for hire. Frequent slow- motion shots of a bullet casing hitting Creasy’s hand and narrowly missing the slow reaction of his fingers, illustrates a shockingly distant yet slowly recovering mindset, placing him outside the realm of normality.
Scott provides a gritty, unrefined insight into every situation. The non-linear, parallel timeline crossing actioner Deja Vu proves the effect of Scott’s ever evolving editing techniques. Cutting between Washington’s character speeding in between traffic in the past, and his communication with colleagues in the present, represents the lack of time his character has to prevent a sickening 9/11-esque terrorist attack. His stylised action is also of debate and careful consideration. The use of slo- mo and/or pulsating soundtrack illustrate the gravity of the situation. The hotel room shoot-out at the end of True Romance has been copied by many aspiring film-makers, aiming for the same effect Scott achieved. The chilling shots of white feathers and bullet ridden cops and drug dealers flying through the air created a violent shootout handled with an artistic vision not seen before in action cinema at its height. The low lighting and shaky cam style of representing a realistic situation has also influenced many film-makers, eagerly using their influences to create an emotional connection. Daniel Espinosa, director of the recent Denzel Washington action film Safe House, used Scott’s grainy, unrefined visual effects in the film to illustrate Ryan Reynolds’ character’s emotional torment when brought into a world of espionage and brutal murder in the heart of a rundown South Africa.
Trademarks: Red baseball cap, Kinetic visual flourishes, recurring cast members, camera pans
Scott & Denzel Washington.
Washington has collaborated with Scott in many films including Man on Fire, Deja Vu, Crimson Tide, The Taking of Pelham 123 and Unstoppable. His dramatic range and charisma may elevate the quality of several of their collaborations, but its Scott’s style that illustrates the true emotional torment of many of Washington’s intriguing characters. Both him and Ridley Scott regularly collaborate with A-list actors, creating many electrifying and alluring performances out of their appealing casts. The 1986 cult classic Top Gun for example, despite today being considered a plethora of homosexual undertones (mostly due to the laughable shirtless beach volleyball scene), Tom Cruise’s rebellious jet pilot Maverick is still idolised as a cheesy yet determined pop culture icon; forever riding the ‘highway to the danger zone’. Despite his recent films, such as The Taking of Pelham 123, Domino and Unstoppable, being little more than technical experiments with a threadbare narrative, Scott can definitely call his schizophrenic technical style his own.
Despite his notorious cinematography and editing tricks infuriating some, he is one Hollywood director still perfecting his trademarks with each film. From Top Gun to Man on Fire, the British-born filmmaker has garnered immense acclaim from guilty pleasure efforts.