Submarine movies are not easy to film -- these are cramped spaces with necessarily bad lighting and an excruciating lack of compelling mis en scene (which is why so much of The Hunt For Red October takes place outside). Here, despite these handicaps, Scott gives us one of the finest moments in both Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington's careers.
Quentin Tarantino's dialogue is still never subtle, but back in his unproven days, it was downright grating. It'd be very easy for this scene -- in which Dennis Hopper uses anecdotal racism to goad Christopher Walken into murdering him -- to feel forced, or crass, or stupid, but in the hands of Scott, the whole thing is just sublime.
When you watch it, you'll be uncomfortable, but in the best way possible.
It's not often you see such a well balanced clash of masculinity. There's a whole lot of man happening in this scene -- the hypermasculine NSA agents with something to prove, the (in this film) normally calm Will Smith on the verge of snapping, and the crotchety, old Gene Hackman angry at all these kids on his lawn. It also gave us one of the most memorable lines from a Scott film:
"You've ruined my whole life!"
"Your life? What life? You live in a f--king jar!"
If you haven't seen this movie, it is 100% guaranteed that you will not see where this is going.
Fair warning: This is a torture scene, but it's probably the only torture scene on film where you manage to fully support the hero all the way through. The directing is perfect: nothing about this seems real, it's raw, chaotic, voyeuristic insanity. You don't feel an ounce of the victim's pain, only Denzel Washington's grim vindication as he does whatever he needs to get the little girl back.
Yeah, it's cliches, and yeah it's base archetypes, but that was Scott's field. It doesn't matter that the path he walked was well trodden because he walked it better than anyone had before.
No one in Hollywood communicates integrity like Robert Redford, and here in this scene you can see his natural talents used to the utmost. After an entire film of apparently doing nothing, Redford drives off into the sunset moments before everyone realizes exactly what he's done: he's saved the day.
And Scott makes sure we feel it, but not in the sappy way, in the hell yeah we've come to expect.
Due to some lawyers with too much time on their hand, none of the good scenes from Top Gun is not available on Youtube -- but anyone who's ever noted the homosexual tension between action movie stars owes a little something to the Infamous Volleyball Scene.
So I guess you'll just have to go rent that movie.
Rest well, Tony. Thanks for everything.