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Tony Scott: A Gifted Director’s Most Thrilling Movie Moments

Tony Scott directed 16 films, including the Tom Cruise hits Top Gun and Days of Thunder, but he got little of the critical acclaim showered on Hollywood contemporaries such as Martin Scorsese, Clint Eastwood, and Steven Spielberg. Accolade-wise, he even was overshadowed by his older brother Ridley, whose trio of Academy Award nominations in the best director category amounted to three more than Tony ever got.

But Scott, who died yesterday at age 68 in an apparent suicide in Los Angeles, had stellar success in the purest, most primal sense of what the cinematic medium is all about: He knew how to entertain audiences. Scott’s forte was filling box-office blockbusters with high-octane thrills. An adrenaline junkie who loved fast cars, motorcycles, and rock-climbing, he tried to put the same sort of rush into his movies. As a director, Scott was short on Strasbergian emotional subtlety, instead coaching stars such as Cruise, Eddie Murphy, and Denzel Washington to give energetic, muscular performances. But he had such a knack for exploiting high-tech gadgetry that the jet fighters and runaway trains in his movies sometimes stole the scenes from his high-priced casts. Here are five of the most explosive scenes from his best films, the ones that kept moviegoers on the edges of their seats.