Cinopile: The Last Boy Scout

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The bastard child of Die Hard has matured quite nicely…

The Last Boy ScoutYeah, okay, it’s true that The Last Boy Scout is a formula job of the worst kind. From a script by the Lethal Weapon writer and produced by the man who funded everything from 48 Hours to Die Hard, it’s a bag of familiar tricks and contrived plot devices. If it’s not a scene milking that Bruce Willis’ character took a bullet for the President, it’s Damon Wayans’ football player being miserable over the murder of his girlfriend or his injury-induced drug addiction. The supporting characters are as obvious as they are shallow. And some of the one-liners are really cringe-worthy. Even the poster – Willis and Wayans looking badass while an explosion fills the background – is pretty stupid.

It’s no surprise that Bruce Willis acted like his Die Hard alter-ego. The film was produced by Joel Silver, also producer of the the Die Hard movies. Tony Scott listed it as one of his worst movie experiences, since Silver and Willis would take over, changing scenes and parts of the script. But he couldn’t withdraw without forfeiting his salary. Ironically Silver also rated it as one of his worst film-making experiences.
It’s no surprise that Bruce Willis acted like his Die Hard alter-ego. The film was produced by Joel Silver, also producer of the the Die Hard movies. Tony Scott listed it as one of his worst movie experiences, since Silver and Willis would take over, changing scenes and parts of the script. But he couldn’t withdraw without forfeiting his salary. Ironically Silver also rated it as one of his worst film-making experiences.

It should have been a sloppy mess of profanity-laden gratuitous violence and action movie cliches (and it was), yet Boy Scout has stood the test of time. The late Tony Scott knew how to pump energy into his scenes, Willis channels Die Hard’s John McClane, while Wayans is perfect for the dry jokes and sarcastic one-liners spewed back and forth. This all carries the movie, with a lot of help from over the top action and moments of cinematic gold.

The role of Hallenbeck, Willis’ character, was at a point considered for Jack Nicholson. Mel Gibson was on the list to play Dix, Wayans’ character. Halle Berry makes a brief appearance as Dix’s girlfriend and if you blink you’ll miss James Gandolfini as a hired thug.
The role of Hallenbeck, Willis’ character, was at a point considered for Jack Nicholson. Mel Gibson was on the list to play Dix, Wayans’ character. Halle Berry makes a brief appearance as Dix’s girlfriend and if you blink you’ll miss James Gandolfini as a hired thug.

Boy Scout had enough charm to keep it from being a total disaster, but why did it become more fun to watch as its aged? Probably because the world moved on to new sets of action movie rules, which allows this movie’s better parts to shine. You can forget why it was once a cookie-cutter hack job – now The Last Boy Scout is a free-wheeling catalog of what made action movies of 25 years ago so awesome. It’s dead squirrels. It’s bad guys falling into helicopters. It’s John McClane on a holiday job, saying stuff like: “Touch me again and I’ll kill you” and meaning it.

The movie’s script set a record payday $1.75 million for its author, though that was soon eclipsed by Basic Instinct’s $2 million script. It would be his last major success until Iron Man 3.
The movie’s script set a record payday $1.75 million for its author, though that was soon eclipsed by Basic Instinct’s $2 million script. It would be his last major success until Iron Man 3.

Best Scene: Bruce Willis applies his own variant to the one punch kill.

Best Quote: ” I think I fucked a squirrel to death, and don’t remember.”

 

 

Cinophile is a weekly feature showcasing films that are strange, brilliant, bizarre and explains why we love the movies.

Last Updated: March 10, 2014

James

A total movie glutton, nothing is too bad or too obscure to watch, unless it's something like The Human Centipede. If you enjoyed that, there is something wrong with you. But bless you anyway - even video nasties need love...

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