Monday, March 12, 2018
A month at the movies #12: Man On Fire
We lost Tony Scott a few years ago now and that loss is really starting to bite now, because while watching Man On Fire for the 12th time recently, it became obvious there is nobody else like him left in the modern film industry.
Man On Fire has a totally generic story of revenge, but is a fucking bazooka of a film. A lot of this is, admittedly, due to Denzel Washington once again giving Scott one of his electrifying performances, but it's also largely due to Scott's omnipresent approach to film-making and his willingness to throw in any cinematic trick he can think of to jazz up the story, and give this hoary cliche of a plot a new kick.
This overdose of pure, undiluted style is a signature of Scott's films, it was there in The Hunger, and it was there is every other film he made over the next 30 years. Even when it got overwhelming - and it could, with things like Domino almost choking on a desperate hunt for intensity - it was never, ever boring.
And for somebody who could get so experimental with his movies, he was unashamedly making mass-market entertainment, designed for the absolutely widest audience possible. He shoved a spike into the zeitgeist with Top Gun and was always taking on projects that were made for everybody, not just film-literate snobs or stoned teenagers with short attention spans.
But this is where his loss is really felt, because there isn't any other young filmmakers coming through who have the same drives that Tony Scott had. There are plenty of directors trying to be Scorsese or Coppola or Fincher, and literally dozens trying to be Spielberg. There are several directors who are following big brother Ridley's examples, and there are even some mad souls trying to be the next DePalma (a lesson in futility, because there is only one DePalma).
But there is nobody like Tony Scott anymore. He never really got the respect that his brother had, but he was a unique director, who can never be replaced.