When Tony Scott passed away last week at the age of 68, I realized that we didn’t just lose a terrific director. In the late 90′s, Scott put on a new hat; he became a prolific producer of films and TV. Some were solo projects, but most were with his brother Ridley under their banner, Scott Free Productions. Tony was a late bloomer in Hollywood; he worked with Ridley in the advertising business before jumping into film. He directed a handful of short films and commercials in the 60′s and 70′s. It didn’t take too long before he found his calling.
The Hunger (1983)… Director
Scott’s debut motion picture was not critically adored, but it caught the eye of some influential producers (more specifically, Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer). It’s one of the two Scott-directed films I did not see, and honestly, I’m not jumping at the chance to do so.
Top Gun (1986)… Director
A smash hit right out of the park. An enormously successful film for everyone involved, including Tom Cruise, Simpson/Bruckheimer, and Scott himself. For all of them, it was the beginning of a beautiful relationship with lady Hollywood. B
Beverly Hills Cop 2 (1987)… Director
In a world of lame, money-grubbing sequels, this one was surprisingly not bad. It doesn’t match the fire of the original, but Scott infused this one with energy and humor. And at the time, there was no one bigger than Eddie Murphy. B-
Revenge (1990)… Director
I can honestly say I do not remember much of this film and I don’t think I’m alone in this one. I remember the cast, I remember some of the sex scenes, the gratuitous violence, the stylish filmmaking, but it all feels like a fuzzy dream. C
Days of Thunder (1990)… Director
Back to Top Gun territory with his old friends Cruise, Simpson and Bruckheimer and the result is slick, fun and yet completely unmemorable. It’s well-cut and Scott has made a name for himself with his jittery, kinetic style. And for me, Robert Duvall always adds class to any project. B-
The Last Boy Scout (1991)… Director
The first great feature from Scott, a blistering thriller with an edge and doses of unexpected humor (courtesy of maverick screenwriter, Shane Black). Bruce Willis was at the peak of his action career. This was so much fun. A-
True Romance (1993)… Director
The peak of Tony Scott’s directing career. His best film, hands down. He combined everything that was great about his previous work and made a masterpiece of stylish extravagance, guided by a perfect script from Quentin Tarantino. In the 10 years since his debut motion picture, Tony Scott became a pro. A+
Crimson Tide (1995)… Director
His first of many collaborations with Denzel Washington. Washington squares off with Gene Hackman and these two blistering heavyweights generated so much fire and tension in Crimson Tide that you forget you’re watching a sub-par military thriller. Seriously, I remember nothing about Crimson Tide except for their awesome, bombastic shouting matches. B
The Fan (1996)… Director
His first real misfire and it’s a shame because The Fan has a great idea for a film — a die-hard baseball fan (Robert DeNiro) takes it a little too personally when a player (Wesley Snipes) has his worst season yet. Unfortunately, it’s so numbingly average. Not even DeNiro could muster up something fresh here. C-
The Hunger (TV series) (1997-1999)… Executive Producer
Scott’s first stint as a producer, and it’s a TV spinoff of his first film. It ran for two seasons, starring David Bowie and Terrence Stamp. I think it has a bit of a cult following, but I’m unfamiliar with The Hunger, in either medium.
Clay Pigeons (1998)… Executive Producer
I remember seeking this out on a rainy day during my stint in college and feeling slightly cold by it. Vince Vaughn was up and coming as an actor and he showed some grit and restraint in this intriguing crime/comedy/thriller. Joaquin Phoenix and Janeane Garofalo also starred in David Dobkin’s middling debut. C+
RKO 281 (1999)…Executive Producer
Where the Money Is (2000)… Executive Producer
The Last Debate (2000)… Executive Producer
The Big Time (2001)… Executive Producer
AFP: American Fighter Pilot (2002)… Executive Producer
The Gathering Storm (2002)… Executive Producer
During this period, Scott produced a wide swath of TV films and pilots, most to middling acclaim and all unseen by me.
Spy Game (2001)… Director
This one left me cold, despite the pedigree involved. It’s a jittery, deeply convoluted action thriller involving government politics and espionage. Love the River Runs Through It reunion of Pitt and Redford, but Spy Game did very little to race my pulse. I have heard, however, that repeat viewings are essential. C
Ticker (2002)… Executive Producer
Beat the Devil (2002)… Executive Producer/Director
Hostage (2002)… Executive Producer
Agent Orange (2004)… Director
It looks like Scott revisited his roots and produced/directed a few short films. Not sure where to access these but have heard that Beat the Devil is certainly worth a look if you’re a Scott fan.
Man on Fire (2004)… Producer/Director
The last Tony Scott movie I have watched and it was viewed posthumously just last week. Looking at his work chronologically, it’s clearly a return to form, his best work since the mid 90′s. It felt fresh and urgent, and Scott was in complete control of his story, the tone and his characters. A terrific, pulpy thriller. B+
In Her Shoes (2005)… Executive Producer
One of the best films of 2005, Curtis Hanson directed this beautiful story about two sisters whose passive-aggressive relationship begins to take its toll. Cameron Diaz and Toni Collette have really never been better. It’s surprising that Scott had any involvement in this, as it’s unlike anything he had ever done. A must-see, especially if you have a sibling. A
Numbers (TV Show) (2005-2009)… Executive Producer
Scott’s first real television success, this mystery has a cult following and has produced pretty decent ratings for CBS. Five seasons ain’t a run to be ashamed about.
Domino (2005)… Producer/Director
After The Hunger, Domino is the other Scott-directed film I have yet to see. It was critically savaged, a box office bomb and the buzz is unsurprisingly mute. My distaste for Keira Knightly drives me even further from this one.
Deja Vu (2006)… Director
A low-key thriller (for Scott, anyway) about a cop (Washington again) who travels back in time to prevent a murder. I’m a sucker for time travel flicks, so I rated this one a bit higher than I should have. Still, a fun ride, despite being nothing new. B
Orpheus (2006)… Executive Producer
Tristan & Isolde (2007)… Executive Producer
Law Dogs (2007)… Executive Producer
The Company (2007)… Executive Producer
The Andromeda Strain (2008)… Executive Producer
More work behind the scenes of indies, pilots and TV movies that I haven’t seen. Nothing seems to jump out.
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)… Executive Producer
This commanding feature film debut from Andrew Dominik has striking visuals, languid pacing, and a sterling cast in top form. I don’t think it warranted the excessive run-time, but there’s a lot to like about this one. B
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (2009)… Producer/Director
A fun thriller that builds up its tension very nicely. Washington, Gandolfini, and Guzman are old pros here. Travolta is a weak link (his bad guy shtick is stale), but Scott has crafted a very solid rainy day rental. B
The Good Wife (TV Show) (2009-)… Executive Producer
Another hit for CBS, though this one has a much higher profile than Numbers. I was one of many who had no idea Scott was a producer of this show. I don’t watch it, but I know some folks who say that it’s quite entertaining. Like In Her Shoes, this seems like an unlikely project for Scott to be involved with.
Tell Tale (2009)… Producer
Into the Storm (2009)… Executive Producer
Cracks (2009)… Executive Producer
Nomads (2010)… Executive Producer
Yet another round of producing gigs for small indies and made for TV films. I’ve only heard of one — Into the Storm – which was a successful HBO docudrama in the vein of his previous HBO efforts (RKO 281 and The Gathering Storm).
Welcome to the Rileys (2010)… Executive Producer
A quiet little film that I actually enjoyed renting one day last year. James Gandolfini and Melissa Leo are a married couple mourning the loss of their only child. Kristen Stewart comes along and shakes things up. It’s a familiar, predictable tale, but the performances by everyone (including the always needlessly maligned Stewart) deliver very potent performances. The film directing debut of Ridley Scott’s son, Jake. B
Cyrus (2010)… Executive Producer
Another successful independent dramedy featuring Jonah Hill in a refreshing change-of-pace role as a needy kid who has a tough time getting along with his mother’s new boyfriend, played by the great John C. Reilly. It’s a little dark but its emotions run deep. B+
The A-Team (2010)… Producer
An incoherent mess. I wanted to like it — I love the cast, the premise, and I sometimes dig Joe Carnahan’s style — but it didn’t come together for me at all. It wasn’t even trashy fun. It was just plain trash. D
Unstoppable (2010)… Producer/Director
Scott’s final film as a director, and what a great one at that. It’s the best action film of 2010, a white knuckle thriller helmed with superb craftsmanship. It was his fifth pairing with Washington, and the two of them fit like a glove. As a film director, Tony Scott went out on top with Unstoppable. A
The Real Robin Hood (2010)… Executive Producer
Life in a Day (2011)… Executive Producer
Gettysburg (2011)… Executive Producer
Towards the end of his career, Tony Scott put together of a series of feature-length documentaries. I’m only familiar with one. Life in a Day was a gorgeous tapestry of everyday life, helmed by myriads of random people across the world armed with a camera. It was a clever time capsule documenting just that — life in a single day. Life in a Day: B+
Pillars of the Earth (TV show) (2010)… Executive Producer
Call of Duty Elite (TV show) (2011-)… Executive Producer
World Without End (TV show) (2012-)… Producer
Scott also managed to put together a few TV pilots, the last two actually being picked up to series. I’ve never heard of any of them, quite honestly. It amazes me how Scott has become so prolific at this stage in his life. He was really picking up his producing career.
The Grey (2011)… Executive Producer
I haven’t seen this one yet, but it’s in the pipeline. I’ve heard mostly positive buzz on this thriller featuring Liam Neeson as a huntsman fending off a pack of wolves. After the debacle that was The A-Team, it’s good to see Scott, Neeson and Carnahan involved in something a little more palatable.
Prometheus (2012)… Producer
His final, completed project was a bit of a mess, directed by his brother Ridley. It didn’t quite work as either a monster movie or a parable on human existence, but I commend the effort of trying to do a mash-up of both. Worth a look for Noomi Rapace’s blistering performance as a woman Ellen Ripley would be proud of. C+
Tony Scott had a lot of projects in various stages of production when he passed away. Some of his producing projects have been completed (mostly TV movies, like Coma, which airs this month). It was rumored that he was talking with Tom Cruise about ideas for Top Gun 2. Sadly, that reunion just wasn’t meant to be.