When it comes to cheesy action movies they can best be described in three different ways: the good, the bad and the ugly. Good is self-explanatory; bad can still be good despite being bad; and ugly is spot on all on its own because it’s actually so bad that it is below bad. However, every now and then, a cheesy action movie can somehow manage to be both cheesy and excellent, surpassing even the good/bad/ugly scale.
1991’s “The Last Boy Scout” is that type of cheesy action movie.
Joe Hallenbeck (Bruce Willis) is a private investigator hired to tail star-crossed stripper Cory (Halle Berry) who is convinced a former John is trying to kill her due to her witnessing something she should not have seen. Her boyfriend, retired pro football star Jimmy Dix (Damon Wayans) is suspicious of Hallenbeck and trying to conduct his own investigation of who may be after Cory. Forced to team up upon her death, the deeper the two dig the more they uncover. Crooked professional football players and owners, gambling rings, politicians…it seems as if almost everyone they come across is corrupt and behind Cory’s murder!
“The Last Boy Scout” was written by Shane Black, writer of the action classics “Predator” and “Lethal Weapon,” and he shines just as bright here as he did with those mega-hits. Black is well-known for his humorous character dialog, no matter how serious the subject matter may be, and simple yet complicated story lines that always tend to wrap up with no unanswered questions. A feat that doesn’t happen often in movies – especially these days!
The movie is funny and action packed, with Willis and Wayans meshing very well together as the “we are opposites but really we are the same…” pair of unwilling heroes caught up in more than they ever bargained for. Dix is a washed out former quarterback, drifting through life after the loss of his career due to injuries, the loss of his wife and son due to a car accident, and now a dead stripper girlfriend on top of it all! Damon Wayans manages to keep Dix funny and sarcastic throughout the film despite how bleak his characters life seems. Hallenbeck is a washed out former presidential bodyguard who just wants to be left alone in his misery. All while he investigates losers, and puts up with a cheating wife and an ungrateful brat of a teenage daughter in the process. Willis plays Hallenbeck very similarly to his most well-known role: John McClane of the “Die Hard” series. Hallenbeck is mouthy, does what he wants, and always gets results because – even if it seems like he doesn’t care – he’s just that good.
“The Last Boy Scout” features everything you could ask for from a cheesy action movie: car chases, shootouts, fist fights, explosions, and bad guys that are so good at being bad you just can’t wait to see them get their comeuppance!
The movie is quickly approaching the ripe old age of 30 years old, yet it is not dated in the slightest. This is thanks to how well it was written by Black and directed by the late Tony Scott (brother of the more well-known Ridley Scott and director of such action hits as “Man on Fire” and “Beverly Hills Cop II”). Sure, some of the dialogue wouldn’t fly in today’s world, and some of the references to the early 90’s may not connect for a first-time viewer, but none of that affects the movie itself. You simply cannot go wrong when it comes to good action and dialogue, no matter how old your movie may be.
“The Last Boy Scout” is 105 minutes and is rated “R” for violence and strong language.