Top Gun, Man On Fire, True Romance and the top ten movies from director Tony Scott

I was about to call it a night and head off to bed when I checked the news one last time and learned that Tony Scott fell to his death at the age of 68.  Although I was barely awake enough to read the article, let alone write anything, I couldn’t help but take the news hard since Tony Scott was responsible for some of my favorite films and some of my earliest memories of the movies.  I was eight years old when TOP GUN came out and even though I didn’t understand everything that went on in the film, my dad loved it and by default, I loved watching it with him.  And since Tony Scott blessed us with some great films over the years, I thought it was only appropriate to wipe the sleep from my eyes and pay homage to the man by remembering some of his best films.

Denzel Washington in Unstoppable

10. UNSTOPPABLE – His last film with Denzel Washington and his last film to hit theaters (although OUT OF THE FURNACE will be released in 2013), UNSTOPPABLE was an intense film about a runaway train, tailor made to suit Tony’s style.  By this time, Denzel and Tony were a dynamic duo and their films were all but guaranteed to be well worth the price of admission.  UNSTOPPABLE was no exception and it gave the audience exactly what they wanted; stylized action with a great performance from Denzel Washington.

9. THE FAN – It seemed the excitement leading up to 1996’s THE FAN was better than the actual movie, but Wesley Snipes and Robert De Niro did extremely well as the cocky baseball superstar and the obsessed fan that torments him respectively.  The film is exciting enough to hold the audience’s attention, even if it didn’t get the critical acclaim some thought it might before it was released.

8. BEVERLY HILLS COP II – The follow up to the very popular 1984 film got away from itself at times, but it still proved to be a fun sequel.  Eddie Murphy was in the midst of perfecting the action-comedy genre and Tony Scott was lucky to catch him before he stopped being funny.  Unfortunately, the sequel couldn’t live up the original, but it showed early signs of Tony’s style and prepared him for things to come.

Days of Thunder

7. DAYS OF THUNDER – Yes, it’s really just TOP GUN in Nascar, but can you imagine how huge this film would be if it were released today?  But back in 1990, Nascar wasn’t what it is now and the film got slammed for being a retelling of TOP GUN.  But it doesn’t matter, because the film is still fun.  And yes, I owned the toy cars from the film, and yes, I still have them sitting on my book shelf.

6. ENEMY OF THE STATE – After MEN IN BLACK and before WILD WILD WEST, Will Smith did a small, underrated spy thriller called ENEMY OF THE STATE, about a normal guy  in the wrong place at the wrong time.  I always wanted them to come out and say that Gene Hackman’s character was the same as it was in THE CONVERSATION, but even though it was never said, I always believed it to be.  The film itself is a quality spy thriller, even if it feels a little dated these days.

5. CRIMSON TIDE – When it first came out, I wasn’t that big of a fan of CRIMSON TIDE, but in my defense, I was 15 years old and had yet to serve in the military or work for an incompetent boss.  Now that I’ve done both, I understand what this film is about and it means a lot more to me.  Once again, Tony’s style brings the story of opposing officers on a submarine to life in a way that only he can.  This also marks his first outing with Denzel Washington, who would later go on to star in a total of five Tony Scott directed films.

Tony Scott's Man On Fire

4. MAN ON FIRE – I’ve seen MAN ON FIRE a few times and I still have to fight from breaking down into tears when a young Dakota Fanning is kidnapped.  The brilliance of that scene sets the tone for the rest of the film and each killing carried out by Creasy (Denzel Washington, at the top of his game) is so satisfying that I want to stand up and cheer.  This might be Tony Scott’s best directing effort because he turned a standard revenge thriller into so much more.

3. SPY GAME – This is a film that I don’t find too many people to agree with me on, but I love it anyway.  It’s a nail-biting spy thriller featuring solid turns from Robert Redford and Brad Pitt.  I tend to read a lot into this film, but I love how Tony Scott told a story about spies looking out for each other and falling in love without making it hokey or unbelievable.

2. TRUE ROMANCE – If you get a hold of the commentary track that writer Quentin Tarantino did for TRUE ROMANCE, then you can hear Tarantino talk about the decisions Tony made that QT wouldn’t have.  For example, in Tarantino’s version, Clarence dies, whereas Tony lets Clarance and Alabama live happily ever after.  Tarantino points out that it works for the movie Tony made and I couldn’t agree more.  Like most people, I caught this film after Tarantino exploded on the scene with PULP FICTION, but even today, it remains one of my all time favorites.

Top Gun

1. TOP GUN – Call me a sucker if you want to, but 26 years later, I still love watching TOP GUN.  I’m not sure this is a compliment, but I find it to be one of the easiest films to watch.  I still think Maverick is cool when he sings to Charlie, I still get sad when Goose dies, I still find Kelly McGillis attractive in the film and I still get goosebumps whenever I hear Kenny Loggins’ ‘Danger Zone’ on the radio.  The film did more for Navy recruiting than any commercial could ever hope for and the fact it’s such a relevant movie today is a testament to how much fun it is.

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