I'm not sure he fits the criteria for the This Gun For Hire exactly - he was A-list all the way, could pick and choose his projects, I'm sure, and anybody worthy of an all-out parody by The Coen Brothers (which Burn After Reading clearly was), must be some class of auteur - but you got the feeling, looking at his body of work, that craft really was the thing, for him. He wanted to make kick-ass entertainment and grind that cutting edge to near invisibility. And for the most part, I think he did.
Top Five Tony Scott Movies
5) The Last Boy Scout - Shane Black worked that witty Black/White, tough-guy buddy banter in his scripts for Lethal Weapon, Long Kiss Goodnight, Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang and probably will in Iron Man 3. He could probably churn it out in his sleep (where the endless Weapon sequels were probably produced). He wrote scripts for the sensibilities of film makers like Richard Donner, Renny Harlin, John McTiernan and Walter Hill, but in Tony Scott was met more than half-way and together they turned out a highlight of both careers (as well as the peak of Bruce Willis's action-star trajectory. Die Hard is still the best, but it was a gently sloping descent into self-parody from here).
4) Domino - Ridiculous? Over the top? Juuuuust a bit, but holy hell, it's a lot of fun. The opening scene of the trailer park assault and severed limb and shit? Love it. By the end, this one's a mess (a Richard Kelly script, y'know), but it always errs in favor of entertainment value. Going for it: Mickey Rourke, Edgar Ramirez, true-ish story of Laurence Harvey's daughter - model-turned-bounty-hunter Domino Harvey - Tom Waits, Christopher Walken, Delroy Lindo and the best use of Three Dog Night's Mama Told Me (Not to Come) ever.
3) Revenge - Before Kevin Costner went supernova he had two of his best roles as the guy who comes between a powerful man and a beautiful woman. The first time he wriggled betwixt Gene Hackman and Sean Young in Roger Donaldson's fantastic No Way Out, but Revenge (adapted from Jim Harrison's book), where he uh, inserts himself into Anthony Quinn and Madeleine Stowe's marriage goes, for once, for the smaller-scale fall-out (though, it's still plenny big). Love the old Mexico setting - always a favorite for gringos in trouble movies - and it doesn't skimp on the bloody come-uppence.
It's testament to the consistent quality of his work that I had such trouble narrowing this list down to five, but these are the ones I'm most up for repeat viewings of. Just off screen - Crimson Tide, Man On Fire, Spy Game and Enemy of the State. Wanna see Scott having a blast? Check out his short film Beat the Devil - one of those high-concept BMW commercials that starred Clive Owen as The Driver. They recruited top-shelf talent film makers to make these short flicks that would feature Owen and some model of BMW, but everything else was up for grabs. Scott's was one of the best - with James Brown, and Gary Oldman's most excellent post-Drexel role.