21. House of Gucci (2021)
A true crime film following social riser Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga) marrying into the Gucci family and aiming to take control of the fashion brand by any means necessary with her husband Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver) in place of more established family members.
House of Gucci appropriately doesn’t lack in style, but the look of the film and killer chemistry between Gaga and Driver can’t save this story from getting away from the filmmakers.
Individual scenes work and you’ll be shocked to find out just how much of this actually happened, but this is a laboured and disjointed affair, and a supercut of Jared Leto’s appalling performance is surely destined to run at bad movie nights in perpetuity.
20. Legend (1985)
Young hero Jack (Tom Cruise) and Princess Lili (Mia Sara) fight to stop the Lord of Darkness (Tim Curry) from exterminating the last of the unicorns, their magic preventing the world from plunging into an ever-lasting night.
Scott’s first attempt at a fantasy film is a bit tonally wonky and the storytelling feels disjointed and episodic compared to modern takes on similar material, but it’s not a complete slog. In fact it’s got a few big factors going for it, not least the impressive prosthetic makeup and production design throughout, and a ludicrously entertaining turn from Tim Curry as the Lord of Darkness.
It would take Tom Cruise a few more films for his star to truly shine, but he plays it impressively straight against all the trope-laden fairy tale shenanigans.
19. Black Rain (1989)
Dirty cop Nick Conklin (Michael Douglas) and his partner Charlie Vincent (Andy Garcia) escort Yakuza mobster Sato (Yūsaku Matsuda) back to Japan to face justice, but soon get drawn into an active police investigation into organised crime.
By the amount of time he spends on it, Michael Douglas clearly thought he looked pretty cool on a motorbike. Any excuse to have a lot of smoke and high-contrast lighting on screen and Scott will take it, and Black Rain has a doozy of a scene in that regard: a shootout in a smelting plant. The rest is a pretty standard tale of dirty cops, extradition of witnesses and East-meets-West xenophobia in Osaka (at least it’s not Tokyo for a change).
There are a couple of good performances (Ken Takakura as Matsumoto steals the show from Douglas quite comfortably) and lashings of style, but not an original idea is in evidence in the entirety of the film’s runtime.
18. G.I. Jane (1997)
In a stunt designed to both boost a senator’s campaign for gender equality in the armed forces and allow her ammunition to cut some backroom deals, Lieutenant Jordan O’Neil (Demi Moore) begins the brutal training programme for Navy special forces alongside her male counterparts.
A bit of 1990s jingoism aside, the message of GI Jane is pretty admirable, and it’s a polished and engaging movie with the committed (whatever the Razzies said) performances from Demi Moore and Viggo Mortensen proving a bonus.
This could hardly be any more ’90s, the incessant music blaring out and plenty of insensitive one-liners that just wouldn’t fly today. This is easily the most Tony Scott-like Ridley Scott movie on the list, especially in the final act where brutal training scenarios suddenly turn into real combat, playing like a gender equality-minded take on Top Gun.
17. Prometheus (2012)
A research expedition to a distant world that may have been the cradle of humanity, led by Dr Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace), soon leads to the crew of the Prometheus fighting for survival against a terrifying new threat.
It took Ridley Scott over 30 years to return to the sci-fi-horror franchise he created, which had long since lost its taut simplicity through inferior sequelisation. So what did he decide to do? Go back to before Alien and explain away the origins of the Xenomorph.
Prometheus has an intriguing setup and stunning visuals, and it gave Michael Fassbender one of his defining roles as the android David. But Alien fans will feel short-changed at the lack of aliens, while more general audiences might be put off by obtuse storytelling and too many horror characters making all the stupid decisions horror characters always make.
Recommended for you: Designing Nightmares – H.R. Giger and ‘Alien’
16. 1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992)
In the name of the Spanish crown, explorer Christopher Columbus (Gerard Depardieau) embarks on a journey across seemingly endless ocean in search of a new path to China, discovering a New World in the process.
Probably Ridley Scott’s least-seen historical epic today has almost boundless ambition and scale but somewhat laboured storytelling and a fundamentally flawed portrayal of Columbus as a wide-eyed dreamer who tried to befriend the New World natives.
It takes over an hour of screen time for the Santa Maria to reach the New World, but it still looks very handsome, the performances are good and you’ll be have to be particularly stubborn not to be enveloped and entertained by this patchily retold slice of Renaissance history once it gets going.