THE LAST BOYSCOUT
How could it fail? They got the director of the hit TOP GUN, the mega-in-the-moment screenwriter Shane Black, and superstar Bruce Willis to all come together to star in an R-RATED cynical take on the
Hollywood action film! Did you see DIE HARD? People LOVED the shit out of that stuff.
It’s a shame THE LAST BOYSCOUT is a depressing mess.
The story is simple: Bruce Willis is a down and out private detective who is hired to protect a woman, fails to do so, and then finds himself caught up with a disgraced football player Damon Wayans in a head scratching plot to…Legalize gambling? There’s an evil southern millionaire in there somewhere. Hm. Well, I thought it was simple, but it really seems needlessly convoluted and thematically unconnected. Okay. We don’t come here for the complex emotional story. We just come here for the visceral excitement. We get some of that right?
The character of Bruce Willis should be likeable in a sleaze ball sort of way, but he just comes off like a bullying prick. Damon Wayans can be a charming guy, but the little he’s given to do here (versus a
LOT of useless back-story that involve dead girlfriend, a dead wife/child AND a drug addition!) adds up to nothing of value. The two leads aren’t helped by the fact that their chemistry is never allowed to rise above a low simmer. I’ve never read the original draft of the script, but I’d be highly surprised if Black meant things to play out at such a charisma free level. I lay the blame at the feet of Director Tony Scott. His stylistic tricks here are all on auto-pilot. For a director that prides himself on visual invention, this film is a slow paced chore to get through. He bathes the film in ever present smoke, the sun is setting/rising in a purgatorial loop and the (very few) action scenes translate to “SHOOT IT IN SLOW MOTION!” For a renowned action director Scott has little to no interest in geography or choreography. His action scenes are quickly cut messes of guns going off, people being brutally blown away, and a few lame one liners. For a film that advertises itself as a comedy, it’s painfully unfunny, with every one liner falling to the floor like lead weights – the opposite of the man that gave us the fun LETHAL WEAPON and KISS KISS BANG BANG.
If anything, THE LAST BOYSCOUT is a testament of its time. If you can distill the worst of eighties action film in the (highly enjoyable) Stallone vehicle COBRA then you can summarize the nineties cynical gloom shrouded post-modern action films with the grueling THE LAST BOYSCOUT.