MovieBob - Intermission
Remembering Tony Scott - Part II

Bob "MovieBob" Chipman | 31 Aug 2012 16:00
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Scott responded to the criticism of his new hyper-kinetic style by doubling down on it for this one, a (very, very, very loose) biopic of Domino Harvey, the daughter of actor Lawrence Harvey who became a bounty hunter (and friend of Scott's) in Los Angeles. It's a movie some folks consider a disaster and others consider a misunderstood masterpiece. I'm more in the second camp.

It's a rough, nasty, punk rock fever dream of a movie. Kiera Knightley gamely (though not quite convincingly) swings nunchucks and dual-wields assault rifles as Domino, whose bounty hunting crew becomes the subject of a reality TV show that finds them hauling former 90210 actors along on a mission that also wraps them up into a violent robbery/conspiracy that may (or may not) be tied to a divine prophecy involving their boss' girlfriend's (Mo'Nique) infant grandson. Mo'Nique, incidentally, has a standout scene wherein she hijacks The Jerry Springer Show to lobby for the creation of new "official racial categories" for mixed-race Americans (her flow-chart includes "Chi-Negro" and "Jappanic").

Déjà Vu
For some reason, everyone overlooked this clever sci fi/action movie (Scott's only other foray into genre since The Hunger) but I thought it was pretty great. Denzel Washington is a Special Agent in New Orleans who is approached by a shadowy government outfit to help find the perpetrator of a horrific terrorist attack using an experimental new device that open "time windows" through which events of the recent past can be viewed.

It's an exceptionally cool sci fi concept, and leads to one of the more inventive chase scenes in recent memory wherein Washington's character pursues a suspect despite their being separated by days. The film was only a modest success, and was the subject of controversy when its screenwriter publically trashed the finished product and blamed Scott for being too focused on action.

The Taking Of Pelham 123
Scott's only remake reworks a 70s mini-classic about a hostage crisis on a subway. It's often been cited as a Die Hard inspiration turned into a big-time action flick that a lot of people really liked, but I was a little cold on it. It has another great star-turn from Denzel Washington and some solid action beats, but John Travolta grates as a way over the top bad guy and it's clearly trying a little too hard to fit extra set pieces into the narrative.

What has now turned out to be Scott's final film, a respectable thriller about a runaway train once again featuring Denzel Washington, and was reviewed on Escape to The Movies here.

The circumstances surrounding Tony Scott's passing may not be fully understood for some time. But he left behind an impressive legacy of work that we'll still be talking about long after all of us have gone to our own rewards. In that respect, at least, we should all be so lucky.

Bob Chipman is a film critic and independent filmmaker. If you've heard of him before, you have officially been spending way too much time on the internet.

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