Tony Scott's Vehicular Cinema
He was a master at telling stories using modes of transportation.
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1. Tony Scott's Vehicular Cinema
Throughout his career, Tony Scott displayed a mastery of vehicular storytelling that is unmatched in Hollywood history.
His films are filled with trains, cars, planes, & helicopters. The vehicles are fundamental parts of the storytelling, and integral to his characters' lives.
George Miller's use of post-apocalyptic motorcars and big-rigs in the Mad Max films definitely puts him in the Greatest-Director-Of-Vehicles conversation.
But the variety of vehicles that Scott worked with, and their significance in his career, puts him over the top in my book.
📦 Back of the box: Nearly all of Scott's movies feature large-scale vehicles of some sort, usually trains. And even his films that aren't vehicle-focused have vehicles in pivotal plot moments, or as atmospheric short-hand.
Jason Lee's attempted escape on a bicycle through traffic from government agents pursuing him by helicopter in Enemy of the State comes to mind — or Dennis Hopper’s railyard trailer in True Romance.
🥊 The reality: It's the heavy-hitters in his vehicle filmography that really showcase Scott's massive skills working with various modes of transportation.
Top Gun laid the groundwork. He saw up-close what it takes to include high-impact vehicles in a film: contacts, oversight, filming technique, money.
It also showed the payoffs: production value, big moments, high stakes, & action that fills the screen.
Days of Thunder was his attempt to tell a story with stock cars, and maybe it's debatable how successful he was, but it delivers where it counts: the car-racing.
The NASCAR scenes are exciting, expertly shot & edited, and help to propel the story forward.
The underwater action of Crimson Tide is intensified by the drama sealed within the USS Alabama.
Conflict between enemy submarines can be a tricky thing to pull off, but Scott makes it tight, fast, and intense.
The Taking of Pelham 123 features plenty of motorcycle & car chases, as well as a helicopter — in addition to the subway train-focused plotline.
All of which might not be enough to overcome an historically off-putting performance by John Travolta.
🥔 Smash cut: As great as all of those are, when it comes to Tony Scott's work with vehicles, Unstoppable is his pièce de résistance.
The runaway train gives, without a doubt, one of the most compelling vehicle performances of all time.
It also features more helicopter work than probably any movie ever made, multiple sequences of pickup trucks running down moving trains, and a sea of emergency vehicles.
📚 If you're interested: As legend goes, Tony Scott got the job directing Top Gun based largely on his commercial for Swedish aerospace/part-time automobile company Saab.
It's pretty great, and easy to see why he got the gig for the Tom Cruise classic.
His early deftness with jet-work is also on full display. Check it out:
2. The 'Tube:
Over on our YouTube channel, we wonder how more people weren't seriously injured during the making of Robert Rodriguez's Desperado.
📚 IYI: Not everybody loved Desperado as much as we did upon its release in 1995.
Roger Ebert was among those unimpressed, though at least he pointed out that it's "a lot better-looking than Mortal Kombat, a movie that looks like it was skimping on electricity."
Read his full 2⭐ review HERE.
3. Podcast episodes:
The first year of the Rewind Video Podcast is finishing on a strong note. We’ve got some real hot topics in the works, including our newest episode, in which we celebrate Spooky Season by inviting the Dark Lord into our lives and yours!