Study Guide

Top Gun Director

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Tony Scott

Top Gun was directed by the late, great Brit, Mr. Tony Scott himself, who just so happens to be the brother of the equally famous director Mr. Ridley Scott, who directed Blade Runner, Gladiator, and Black Hawk Down, among others.

Like his brother Ridley, Tony Scott is best known for a slew of fast-paced, high-octane films:

  • Days of Thunder (1990)
  • The Last Boy Scout (1991)
  • Crimson Tide (1995)
  • Enemy of the State (1998)
  • Man on Fire (2004)
  • The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009)
  • Unstoppable (2010)

His impressive resume, however, Tony Scott didn't exactly come right out of the gate with big, huge action-packed films. Top Gun was really his first movie in that vein, and his third film overall. Before Top Gun, Scott directed The Hunger (1983), a dark vampire film that was panned by critics but has something of a cult following, and Loving Memory (1971), a strange film about a brother and sister who accidentally kill a cyclist but don't report the incident.

Top Gun established Scott, and established the style by which he would become known. What style is that, you might ask? It has been described, variously, as a "frenetic" camera style (the way, for example, the cameras constantly shift during the action sequences in Top Gun, from cockpit to cockpit, from cockpit to external shots, etc.) with a "commitment to extreme action…[and] stripped down dialogue" (source).

In addition to this cinematographic style, Scott's characters almost always have a dark secret or two, as he himself explained in a 2009 interview: "If you look at my body of work, there's always a dark side to my characters. They've always got a skeleton in the closet, they've always got a subtext. I like that. Whether it's Bruce Willis in Last Boy Scout or Denzel in [The Taking of Pelham 123]" (source). Maverick, of course, is no exception to this general rule. He's got a giant family skeleton hanging in his closet, a shame about his father, Duke, who supposedly disobeyed orders and disgraced his family name during Vietnam.

While still alive and active (Scott committed suicide in 2012), he was known for working with a lot of the same people, and not just his brother Ridley. He worked on five movies with Denzel Washington (Crimson Tide, Man on Fire, Déjà Vu, The Taking of Pelham 123, and Unstoppable) and at least six with producer Jerry Bruckheimer. Cruise appears in two of Scott's films (Top Gun and Days of Thunder), and numerous other actors have appeared in more than one of Scott's films.

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