Tuesday, 11 March 2008
The Last Boy Scout
THE LAST BOY SCOUT (1991)
Directed by: Tony Scott
Story by: Greg Hicks & Shane Black
Screenplay: Shane Black
Starring: Bruce Willis & Damon Wayans
Serving up an intense slice of action soaked, foul mouthed noir, The Last Boy Scout is an underrated gem and one of Bruce Willis’ best. Scripted by Lethal Weapon man Shane Black, LBS snaps, crackles and pops with witty dialogue, violent kills and garish LA attitude. Released in between Die Hards and the first real gritty film from Tony Scott, LBS is worth rediscovering as it is the perfect fusion of razor sharp put downs and slo-mo action.
Bruce Willis is shabby; down on his luck (does he play any other kind?) Private Eye, Joe Hallenbeck. Nursing the hangover from hell, he’s asked by his P.I. buddy to look into the case of a stripper who has been receiving unwanted attention from the owner of fictional American Football team, the LA Stallions. No sooner does he take the case, the stripper (a pre fame, Halle Berry) ends up dead, his P.I. buddy (who is getting on with Hallenbeck’s wife) also turns up dead, and an odd mixture of goons, hitmen and pro footballers come gunning for him. Using his dry wit and former Secret Service skills to keep himself alive; Hallenbeck reluctantly teams up with the equally wisecracking pro-footballer and ex-boyfriend of the dead stripper (Damon Wayans) to track down the killer.
Bruce Willis delivers one of his best post Die Hard performances, remaining characteristically grubby and unrelentingly funny. He spits out Hallenbeck’s dialogue with hard boiled aplomb, obviously relishing the chance to fire out Shane Black’s razor sharp words. The chemistry he shares with Damon Wayans is pitch perfect, their relationship being the core of the film, and the two deftly switch from comedy to drama with ease. While the film is very funny, it must be noted the comedy is of the black variety, often as mean spirited as it is funny. Grown up, adult humour rather than knockabout comedy synonymous with more family friendly action comedies.
The film has a dark tone to it, Scott filming the seedier side of LA and its billion dollar sports world. The action is heavy and violent, showcasing scenes of loud gunfire, car chases and one of the best escapes from a car blowing up. The grittier, occasionally seedier, tone makes LBS an edgier ride than many of Willis’ other action films. There is a slight mysoginistic tone and even Hallenbeck’s kid (Danielle Harris) is a foul mouthed brat. However, the hard boiled flavour is the tastiest ingredient and along with plenty of slam bang action, makes LBS a modern gem.