The world of cinema lost one of it’s own with the death of British filmmaker Tony Scott (brother of filmmaker Ridley Scott). The circumstances of Tony Scott’s death has now been confirmed and could be found and read easily on most on-line news site.
This post is not to focus on Tony Scott’s death but on the life he lived and how his contribution to the art of filmmaking. Tony Scott has been a major influenc on me and those who grew up during the 80′s and 90′s. His films were huge commercial successes but also unique in that he tried to advance the genre of action filmmaking beyond the bullet point steps on how to make them that other filmmakers could never get beyond.
Tony Scott experimented and innovated with the action genre these last ten or so years to mixed results, but no one could ever say that his visual style was ever boring. Just like his brother Ridley, Tony Scott was a visual director first and foremost, but he also had a way in getting the most out of the cast he was given. It didn’t matter whether they were award-winning veterans like Denzel Washington or up-and-coming stars like Keira Knightley and Chris Pine. His action films weren’t just all about the visual and auditory overload his contemporaries only focused on. Tony Scott used his actors and got from them good to great performances which raised what would’ve been your typical action film to something more.
One of my favorite scenes Tony Scott ever did was also from one of his films I consider one of his best. It’s the last main sequence for his 2001 spy thriller, Spy Game, which starred Robert Redford and Brad Pitt. It was a film that was the passing of the torch from one blue-eyed star of Hollywood’s yesteryear to the current blue-eyed star. This film could’ve been all about action and explosions and techno-spy babble, but it instead became a great exercise in how to create an action-thriller that allowed for dialogue to become the engine that moved the action.
This scene is a favorite because it was the culmination of the machinations and secret plannings of Redford’s aging spymaster, Nathan Muir, to try and save his wayward protege in Brad Pitt’s Tom Bishop. While it would be best for people to watch this scene having watched the rest of the film beforehand, even just watching Redford take control of the room is a clue to how well Tony Scott allowed his actors to work the scene instead of forcing them to do it his way. It’s no wonder that Denzel Washington, considered to be the best actor of his generation, kept working with Tony over and over for the past decade.