The news came yesterday that Tony Scott had taken his own life by jumping off a bridge over water in L.A. A little later it was revealed that he had been diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer.
This was clearly a huge shock for the film community stateside, and for the many who have worked with him, among them Denzel Washington, I guess, being one of the closest. As for myself I am moved to add a few unseen films to my rental list, such as The Taking of Pelham 123, which I always begrudged because it was a remake of a beloved seventies classic.
I have always considered Scott something of a journeyman filmmaker, particularly, I suppose, next to his brother, Ridley. His early films, such as The Hunger, Top Gun and Revenge, I found to be meretricious popcorn fodder, nothing more. Days of Thunder was downright awful, and Beverly Hills Cop II simply added scope and Brigitte Nielsen’s legs to the mix. But Crimson Tide and True Romance are unquestionably worth a second glance, and Enemy of the State, apart from being a well-handled thriller, had some prescient things to say about our surveillance society.
I am sure that Scott himself viewed himself as no more than an efficient teller of tales, a deliverer of well-paced, sleek looking entertainments, though Unstoppable introduced a welcome reduction in trademark gloss. He is, then, the modern equivalent of a Henry Hathaway, or a Don Siegel. Who knows? Perhaps in twenty years the French will be devoting monographs to him in Cahiers du cinéma.