Yesterday we lost one of the greats in film, undeniably one of the giants in the action film genre, director Tony Scott. The British born younger brother of director Ridley Scott, Tony Scott was 68, and jumped to his death from the Vincent Thomas Bridge in Los Angeles. A suicide note was left, and sources say that Scott had been diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer. His frenetic quick cut directing style has been credited with making the action film what it is today.
Scott broke through in 1983 with the erotic vampire flick, The Hunger, taking his cues from the literature of Anne Rice to create a new type of vampire. Rice wouldn’t make it to the screen for decades, so Scott brought her style to the screen with this. In a day when vampires are a dime a dozen, he reinvigorated the concept with the erotica that was inherent in the genre’s source material. Much of our current vamp ideas owe a debt to this film’s realization.
From there he marched forward into action and suspense films, two of which may have give Tom Cruise the push he needed to become the superstar he became – Top Gun and Days of Thunder. Scott also helmed great actioners like Crimson Tide, Enemy of the State and The Last Boy Scout, featuring heavy levels of both action and tense suspense, and proved that he could also work with Hollywood’s best, including Gene Hackman, Denzel Washington, Will Smith and Bruce Willis.
Three of my personal favorite Tony Scott films were the highly underrated Revenge, True Romance and Déjà Vu. In the first, he pulls perhaps the best performances from giants Anthony Quinn and Kevin Costner, and in the second, he creates one of Dennis Hopper’s most memorable scenes from a Quentin Tarantino script. The third of the trio, Déjà Vu, is maybe one of the best time travel thrillers ever made. Tony Scott’s direction skills made these flicks the quality films they are. In other hands, they might have failed.
Scott was also active as an executive producer in television, having an overseeing hand in series like “The Good Wife,” “The Hunger” and “Numb3rs.” At the time of his death, there were many projects in his future. It’s a shame he went out the way he did, but his legacy will live on in film. Let’s remember his work. We’ve lost one of the best.