Remembering Tony Scott - Part II

Remembering Tony Scott - Part II

MovieBob continues his look back at the films of acclaimed director Tony Scott.

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I'm definitely in the second camp for Domino. As for the rest of them? I really need to see them.

I had thought Man On Fire was also a remake of the 1987 Scott Glenn action movie.

whatever else be said about it, spy game was awesome.

Also didn't know he did deja vu. Looking over the movies listed this guy did alot of movies i really like. still need to see domino and man of fire though.

He was a good journey man director. Man of Fire made me a little dizzy. Loved his last flick. The guy will be missed.

Talk about reading too much into the Man on Fire "subtext."

But yeah, Deja vu is great

alistairenix:
I had thought Man On Fire was also a remake of the 1987 Scott Glenn action movie.

It is. Interestingly, Scott was going to direct the original, but backed out for some reason.

Your descriptions of Man on Fire ("SUPER-SAIYANS less Aryan-looking than Dakota Fanning") and Domino ("punk-rock fever dream")!

I love every Tony Scott film I have seen, especially Max Payne 3 Man on Fire and Déjà Vu. I do think you're looking into Man on Fire a bit much though, I don't think its portrayal of Mexicans is as bad as you said. Great film though :D

Pelham is terrible, my view may be colored by the fact that I saw the vastly superior original first. Unstoppable was Ok but it seemed like genteel version of Runaway Train and suffered from the comparison.

Big fan of a lot of his films, particularly enjoyed Spy Game, and still love Man on Fire to this day. Sad to see his passing, he will be missed.

It's pretty clear Bob's international knowledge is shoddy, as the true state of Mexico much more closely resembles "Man on Fire" today that at the time it was made, making Tony Scott a prophet as well as a pretty fine moviemaker.

Suggestion: Maybe Tony Scott committed suicide because of the knee-jerk tendency for every respectable critic in Hollywood to automatically go I'M UNCOMFORTABLE WITH THE IMPLICATIONS HERE whenever a slice of civilization confronting reality comes on screen. Who wants to live in a world of liars?

Good synopsis of his work, but really you need to stop the racial insanity. When you get on movies like "Man On Fire" for demonizing Mexicans, and making white people out to be angelic, or whatever else, it just sounds absolutly insane, especially when the movie has a black hero who you dismiss as basically being a minion of the whites so it doesn't count.

I really, really, get tired of so called "white guilt", though I can understand hy some people have it, and honestly I think you in paticular are taking it a wee bit too far, as I've said before. If you keep looking for a boogie man everywhere, your going to find him.

THAT said, I'd also point out that while guilt can be counterproductive to the things it's supposed to stand for. Is the largely white western world perfect? By no means, but like it or not we define the high end of civilization, and morality, which is why we are ultimatly the ones doing all of this soul searching about this kind of issue. Like it or not a lot of places in the world are absolute disasters, and the cultures are complete messes, the media by showing these things the way they are, brings attention to them so they can be addressed. Like it or not stereotypes exist because they are true, forming the basis of things like sociology. In general a stereotype doesn't tend to act as an actual cookie cutter, but a pattern of behavior which people will generally tend to follow, something you can check off features on, on a list, and while you might not nail every one on an individual, chances are everyone will fit the majority of "checks" in at least one stereotype, especially those who intentionally try and deny stereotypes or not comform with them, which creates it's own stereotype. This is successfully exploited for things like marketing and advertising, and other things whether or not people hate it, it happens to be the way things are. Even if you read into some kind of message about what Mexico and Mexicans are like in given areas, is that a bad thing? If anything it basically shows the people themselves in a mirror and realization of that truth is one of the first steps towards the people changing. It's much like a liberal holding up a mirror to try and show bigots themselves and make a point, just repurposed in a differant direction.

Now granted, I don't think any of that applies to this movie, but with all the garbage going on in Mexico, and the hellish, ongoing wars around the border especially (which is largely between Mexican gangs and crime syndicates), is it so bad if it did? If it shames the people involved, that's actually a GOOD thing as it might encourage them to change, much like any other group. I mean sure, being an ultra-left winger your more in approval of movies like "Machete" with an Anti-US/Pro-Minority/Pro-immigrant message, but understand there is more going on with Mexico than border disputes. All the reasons that caused concerns over the modern "Call Of Juarez" game when people though it was going to be a crime simulator very much apply. Seriously, take a look at the amount of fatalities and the violence down there, and understand that ultimatly influances things like the immigrants as well. Working towards solving those problems ALSO helps deal with the immigration situation both in making it so people won't want to leave as readily, and also making them more welcome as they carry less baggage with them. A negative portryal in the media is one of the things that can be done to influance this.

But again, as I've said before, I don't think that had anything to do with "Man On Fire". At the worst you can say the setting was used because it was one of the parts of the world where the events nessicary for the story were remotely plausible. The set up used wouldn't have worked in the US, or at least not exactly as it did in that story. In the US for example, corrupt law enforcement has to do a bit better of a job of hiding, and the overtness of a lot of it which lead into the violence, would have made a federal response by the FBI or whatever likely. It would have kind of hurt the whole "the only way he can deal with this, is to become a Man On Fire' set up. Other stereotypes could have been used in the US to do the whole "vigilante tough guy, saving the family" thing but in doing so it would have altered the entire movie which became what it was in part because of the change of locale.

I for one am completely with Bob with Man on Fire. And not now that I read it, it bothered me the first time I saw it. Yes, it is true that there are bad things happening in Mexico. Yes, it is true that most of those things are being done by Mexicans. But they are also done mostly to Mexicans. And this is were I find the movie goes ugly. I think the movie shows exactly one Mexican character, a female reporter, who gets more than 3 lines and isn't in on the corruption. And here main job is to explain to the American how all the other Mexicans are in on the corruption. The girl has two parents, a mexican father and a caucasian mother. And, spoiler warning, the father is in on the whole kidnapping, advised by the only villanous white character in the movie, who is a lawyer. So out one stereotype, into the next.

With such a pervasiveness of corrupt Mexican who'd literally sell their own children for profit, it becomes extremely jarring when both the mother who is of course completely devoted to her daughter, and the innocent daughter in question, be whiter than a caucasian who's lived in Mexico for years should probably be. That is the main problem I have with this movie. It points at the news to justify making the Mexicans criminals, then throws them out of the window to make their victims be WASPs.

Had the mother and daughter been played by Mexican actresses, the movie would have acknowledged immediately that there are in fact Mexicans who are innocent victims. As it is, the movie gets a xenophobic streak by making Mexicans look like a race of degenerates who pray on any American foolish enough to trust them. That was simply a horrible casting decision, probably rooted in the equally problematic assumption that US audiences wouldn't care (as much) about a kidnap victim with different skin color.

And if they'd gone the extra mile and casted a non-American lead in place of Denzel, they'd have avoided the idea that only an American would care enough and be heroic enough to help. It's not like the US is such a great help in ending the current crime wave/war, seeing how they're the destination for most of the drugs these cartels smuggle, and the main source of their weapons. So portraying an American action hero being the only one who's willing to help the victims is at least a bit hypocritical. But this is a secondary problem of the movie IMHO.

As far as I'm concerned, Tony Scott was one of the best action directors of the last thirty years. Man On Fire seems almost prophetic in the way that the jerky hyper-kinetic camera style has now become de rigour among action films. The genius of Scott was that he still managed to exercise a sense of stylish restraint, so that the camera work never devolved into a hyperactive mess. Something very few other action directors managed to accomplish (even the later Bourne films suffer from this).

Also, Max Payne 3 totally ripped off everything about that film. Neo noir my arse, it's a blatant copy of MoF, from the slummy settings to the missing girl storyline, to the way they interspersed the cutscenes with those hazy hyper-flashes.

Lastly, I don't mean to sound flippant, but I don't think it's exactly fair to try and say there's unpleasant racial undertones to a film when a) the main hero is black, and b) Mexico really, really is quite fucked up atm. Just read up on some of the stuff that the cartels have been pulling. We're talking mass lynchings, conflict on an urban warfare scale, and even kidnapping hostages and making them fight each other to the death. It's not a nice place right now, and I don't think its wrong for film-makers to try and convey some of that on film.

Jeffers, to give a TL:DR summary of my previous post: Making a movie about Mexicans doing fucked up shit to innocent Mexicans is fine. Making a movie about Mexicans doing fucked up shit to innocent Americans, and leaving out the catagory of innocent Mexicans pretty much entirely, less so.

 

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