The pure fun of Tony Scott's films

01:16, Aug 22 2012

Tony Scott will be missed. His films were fun, slick and often preposterous romps. You always knew you would be able to get through a huge tub of popcorn and a coke during a Tony Scott movie. They were unpretentious, beautifully shot and just plain fun.

I occasionally review films for The Press newspaper in Christchurch and for the past few years have been the Tony Scott guy. It has been my honour to review the last couple of Scott movies - Unstoppable and The Taking of Pelham 123. I hope I did them justice. In all honesty, they were not great films, but they were entertaining.

I described Unstoppable as "basic, fun stuff that hits its fairly modest target with brio and stylish panache".

If you're not a fan of fast food, you will not get this metaphor, but Tony Scott films are a bit like a Big Mac -  reliable, guilty pleasures that are well made and really hit the spot sometimes.

The words slick and fun come to mind when I think of his films. You knew you were in the hands of someone who knew what he was doing. An oddly rare experience at the cinema.

I have fond memories of going to see Deja Vu at the cinema with my friend, John. It was a blast. Preposterous, action-packed and uncomplicated.

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Deja Vu, Enemy of the State, Spy Game and Top Gun were entertaining, thrilling and gorgeous looking. Isn't that what a trip to the movies should be all about?

But one of his films is a standout classic.

This one:

It's True Romance.

In 1993, True Romance was a hot property. It was based on the first script by Quentin Tarantino - who had exploded on to the scene a year before with his debut, Reservoir Dogs, but had not yet cemented his reputation and won Cannes with Pulp Fiction, and it featured every star who was considered hip in 1993. You had Brad Pitt, Christopher Walken, Gary Oldman, Dennis Hopper, Val Kilmer along with the two leads, Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette.

It has a lot going for it. A great Hans Zimmer score that pays homage to Terence Malick's Badlands, a snappy script, Walken in fine form as the bad guy, cool cameos from Oldman as a wigger and Pitt as a stoner, Kilmer as a barely glimpsed Elvis, an awesome Mexican showdown at the end and a fake film-within-a-film called Coming Home in a Body Bag.

But under all this hip bombast is a romantic little heart. This is a Tony Scott film where a fragile soul beats under the glossy shell.

Check out this scene:

Beneath the smoke and the neon and the music video stylings lies the earnest, dreamy sincerity of a lonely geek who has finally found someone to share his passions.

It's shocking to think there won't be any more Tony Scott films. It was easy to take his popcorn movies for granted.

To quote Joni Mitchell, "you don't know what you've got till it's gone.''

Picture of Tony Scott: Getty Images

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