12/08/2010 07:06 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Annals of the Overrated: Tony Scott and Unstoppable

For a variety of reasons, most of them having to do with scheduling, I never got to a press screening of Tony Scott's Unstoppable" when it opened last month. And so I didn't review it.

But, given the reviews it did received (91 percent fresh among Top Critics on Rotten Tomatoes), I felt compelled to buy a ticket and see it after it opened. And, as I suspected, the film - like most of Tony Scott's movies - was nowhere near as impressive as the reviews would have you believe.

Normally, I'd chalk it up to the fact that, at a time when no one seems to know how to make an action movie that doesn't rely on automatic weapons to create tension, suspense and excitement, Scott had made a film that achieved a modicum of thrills and energy without anyone firing a gun.

But on second thought, I decided that much of the acclaim had to do with the fact that, for some reason, Tony Scott's overstylized mannerisms have seduced critics into believing that he's actually a good filmmaker.

Allow me to demur and add him to the list of the overrated that I'm slowly accumulating. (Others on my Overrated list, so far: Tim Burton, John Hughes.)

It's not just Unstoppable, perhaps the most overpraised film of the year since Carlos. I'd go so far as to say that, with a couple of exceptions, going all the way back to The Hunger and the ridiculously iconic Top Gun, Tony Scott has never made a movie that wasn't overamped with flashy editing, visual frissons and other trademarks that have nothing to do with storytelling and everything to do with creating a sensation.

Scott's favorite signature move of late is the flashing-light/lightning-strike style of scene transition. Rather than simply fade out and fade in, or jump-cut, he calls attention to his move from scene to scene with the insertion of a visual effect whose closest equivalent is that moment in so many Looney Tunes cartoons when a character is momentarily electrocuted - and they suddenly turn into a black-and-white x-ray of a skeleton.