Careful: I'm not making an endorsement here. But I would like to say that Tony Scott is one of the most interesting filmmakers in Hollywood today, precisely because he so baldly extracts essences to be found in contemporary commercial cinema.
This means to a large extent I'm talking about capitalism, I'm talking about the market, I'm talking about the production of the new (through destruction). Family? Plenty of family-less characters in his work (and plenty of surrogate families brought up in response). Where are the great heterosexual unions ("romances") in his films? They seem to be presented as ghosts, enigmas, lost chances at best. Everything is about an image, an ideal ("top gun," communism, boy scouts?, civil liberties, television celebrity, and in his newest, Deja Vu, it's about rescue-before-terror, or turning back the clock, or time travel, i.e., it's about the act of imagining a pre-disaster world, pre-9/11, pre-Katrina, etc.).
His most liberal film may be Enemy of the State, which is not subversive, not leftist; but is very Clintonian. It has as its assorted "good guys" black people, working class people, anti-war activists, and ex-government rogues. (This is clearly its most progressive element.) The villains? Rich white men exerting great surveillance and military power to achieve what they want and cover themselves in the process. This is the face of the First World, a mirror of reality (Marxism) presented openly but with the funhouse twists of the market ideologies and illusions (accountable government, bedrock rights, and that great one, revenge).
[Notes for dabblers in esoterica: Gene Hackman's character, a retread of Harry from The Conversation, is the rogue who revolted from the NSA and works against it now; he's called "Brill" (librill, liberal?). Also, the villain (Jon Voight's) birthday is listed as 9/11/40. Whoa! Freaky, maaaaan.]
Deja Vu is kind of a ridiculous film that I saw after reading limited recommendations by a few intelligent cinephiles (such as Michael Sicinski, as well as Christoph Huber & Mark Peranson). I don't think it's very good, or very smart, but it is certainly intriguing. A man (Denzel Washington) has to try to stop a crime that has already happened, by way of (ludicrous: everyone admits as much) time travel mechanisms and some weird physics/phenomenology. Everything is focused on the emotional resonance and resolution, however; on the possibility (very faintly suggested, never asserted or delineated) of the spiritual over the merely physical (i.e., logical, rational). When disaster comes knocking, we look for reason away from rationality--the film shows (and is complicit in) an allegory for the post-disaster push we Americans ourselves have taken to, lemming-like, in the last several years.
More and more often I notice that new commercial films use incredibly stylized lighting & color ... not just for something like a flashback or a virtuosic scene, either but throughout the whole thing. Tony Scott is a poster child for this development. It would be profitable for us to begin reading the current Hollywood crops in comparison to the technicolor spectacles of classical Hollywood, an earlier kind of ruthlessly efficient system, in whose artifices of space/color/time/philosophy we can accept so much ("we" as cinephiles, historians), but whereas now we may be inclined to snort derisively at the so-called "MTV-style" of quick editing and bold colors, when it's clearly another self-conscious movement into pure fantasy and spectacle (vernacular sense) and artifice rather than an ineptitude, a slippage from the naturalist templates (color palette, acting style, narrative progression) most often in display from the late 1960s through the 1990s.
Domino may be the guy's best film, there's a chance I'll return to it here in the future, but I'm in no rush ...