Today: April 23, 2024

Last Boy Scout, The

Shane Black’s dialogue and Bruce Willis’ delivery are a match made in gung-ho heaven in Tony Scott’s action comedy.

Shane Black’s dialogue and Bruce Willis’ delivery are a match made in gung-ho heaven in Tony Scott’s action comedy.

There was a time, in the 1990s, when action heroes came with a sly grin and a catchphrase.
These days they come with short-term memory loss and bad dreams about
their wives. Sure, now they’re deeper, rife with a Freudian playground
of issues and altogether more serious, but those action heroes of
yester-year are slowly creeping back into contention. Take a look at
films like The A-Team and Sherlock Holmes and you see the delights that come from witty banter between buddies. With
this in mind The Last Boy Scout’s arrival on Blu-Ray is a hugely
welcome reminder of how much fun a film can be when it forgoes the moody
and finds the funny.

Joe Hallenbeck (Willis) is a down on his luck, sleeping in the
gutter Private Detective. A celebrated former bodyguard of the
President he has fallen very far from grace. His wife cheats on him, his
daughter hates him and he openly admits finding it hard living with
himself. Thankfully for Joe he finds himself embroiled in a case that
sees stripper Cory (Berry) shot and her former super-star football playing boyfriend Jimmy Dix (Wayans)
helping him crack the case of gamble corruption in the sport. What
ensues is a break-neck ride of insults and action that leads them right
to the highest echelons of power.

Not surprisingly for a Tony Scott film The Last Boy Scout is every
bit macho men competing in pissing contests as you could possibly
The difference between this and much of his other films,
like Top Gun, is that Boy Scout makes not pretentions of hiding it.
Instead it wears it with pride slap bang on its sleeve spitting its way
to an 18 certificate. Remarkably for a Tony Scott film he refrains
from much of his flair and over editing of his more recent films like
Domino (2005) and Man On Fire (2004).
He still however excels at the
action, keeping it fluid and fun throughout, making it gleefully
violent. Witness as one would be assassin meets bullets, then falls a
huge height into the oncoming blades of a helicopter to blood spraying
delight. However, what Scott does so brilliantly is allow the script to
become the main focus of the film.

Shane Black, off the back of the first two instalments of the
Lethal Weapon franchise (1987 and 1989), was considered something of a
white hot Hollywood property when he wrote The Last Boy Scout and the
results speak for themselves. Like his most recent outing Kiss Kiss Bang
Bang (2005), Black appears to be channelling the modern day soul of
Raymond Chandler, the pulp novelist famed for his nourish private
investigator Philip Marlowe.
Everything in his scripts are not so much hard boiled but char grilled and roasted in the insult oven for good measure. Every line of dialogue sizzles and zings its way off the screen to endlessly quotable effect.

Hallenbeck is every bit as Phillip Marlowe as Chandler could hope
for, a chain-smoking alcoholic who has a wise crack for every situation
and rarely breaks a nervous sweat, even when the odds are heavily
stacked against him. While much of this is in the writing he is brought
to life by an on form Bruce Willis. Although very much in the Die
Hard John McClane mould Willis is able to find new levels of
delightfully sarcastic grumpiness, at one moment spitting insults at
others casually dispensing words of wisdom as he executes bad guys, by
putting their nose through their brain, as you do.
Opposite him
Damon Wayans does not have the screen presence required to balance
Willis out but he does enough to act as a fun support for Hallenbeck to
riff with. Special mention should also go to Danielle Harris,
currently etching out a career in the horror genre, as Hallenbeck’s
daughter who comes close to out foul-mouthing Bruce Willis to evil child

The Last Boy Scout is an often forgotten piece of 90s action fair but
it contains all the key nostalgic notes to make it sit easily along
side the likes of the Die Hards and Lethal Weapons of the time. As
tough talking macho men make a come back this proves that Shane Black
will always be the king of snappy hard-boiled dialogue and it’s going to
be tricky to find an actor to ever better Bruce’s sneering ways. Be
prepared for the delights that The Last Boy Scout has in store.

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email:

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