The Last Boy Scout

(director: Tony Scott; screenwriters: story by Shane Black/ & Greg Hicks; cinematographer: Ward Russell; editors: Mark Goldblatt/Mark Helfrich; music: Michael Kamen; cast: Bruce Willis (Joe Hallenbeck), Damon Wayans (Jimmy Dix), Chelsea Field (Sarah Hallenbeck), Noble Willingham (Sheldon Marcone), Taylor Negron (Milo), Halie Berry (Cory), Danielle Harris (Darian Hallenbeck), Bruce McGill (Mike Matthews), Chelcie Ross (Senator Baynard), Joe Santos (Lt. Bessalo); Runtime: 105; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Joel Silver/Michael Levy; Warner Home Video; 1991)

“Everything seems mechanical, forced and contrived.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Tony Scott (“Man on Fire”/”Domino”/”Crimson Tide”)directs this revolting formulaic Bruce Willis interracial-buddy action comedy, where everything seems mechanical, forced and contrived. It’s based on a story by Shane Black & Greg Hicks, and is written by Shane Black. Every character is one-dimensional and a stereotype, the revolting story doesn’t even have a heart beat, the good-guy odd couple buddy partnership seems artificial, the dialogue is idiotic, the action scenes are phony and allow for unintentional laughter, the acting is bad and the direction is violently bad. This is one lousy film.

The disheveled and unhinged Joe Hallenbeck (Bruce Willis) was bounced as a Secret Service agent, despite once being honored for saving the President’s life, by California’s crooked Senator Baynard (Chelcie Ross). Joe’s now a washed-up alcoholic LA private eye, whose disrespectful foul-mouth talking 13-year-old daughter Darian (Danielle Harris) calls him a loser and his estranged wife Sarah (Chelsea Field) is having an affair with his sleazy partner Mike Matthews (Bruce McGill) because he’s never around. After Mike hands over to Joe a dangerous case, the scheming double-crosser Mike is killed in a car bomb. Joe nevertheless pursues the job of guarding stripper Cory (Halie Berry), who despite his protection is gunned down in the streetin a contract hit. To get the baddies Joe teams up with Cory’s boyfriend, the wise-cracking former pro quarterbackJimmy Dix (Damon Wayans), who fell apart when his wife died in a traffic accident a few years ago and has found solace in Cory. Jimmy was banned from playing in the NFL because of gambling and a drug addiction to Demerol.

We learn Cory was killed because she tried to get her Jimmy reinstated to the NFL and had a tape recording of the ruthless porcine Los Angeles Stallions football owner Sheldon Marcone (Noble Willingham) bribing the smarmy Senator Baynard to push for legislation to make gambling on football games legal and is using this tape to bribe Sheldon. On the tape the powerful senator rejects the billionaire’s offer, as he asks for a bigger bribe. When the odd-couple investigate Cory’s murder they meet with violence from Sheldon’s goons, as there’s more murders and a climax that was so chaotic and absurd that it could have only been saved if one thought they were watching a Marx Brothers flick.

The film is supposedly a homage to Raymond Chandler, that fictional tough-guy detective created by Dashiell Hammet. The big problem is that Hammet was good at cranking out pulp novels and Shane Black (wrote Lethal Weapon) is not. It also doesn’t help that the mediocre director is clueless on how to execute an old-fashioned thriller.