FROM THE VAULT: The Last Boy Scout
British filmmaker Tony Scott died on 19th August, and Major Spoilers sat down to watch one of his more over-looked action movies…
This movie starts with a bright and loud music number about the joys of Friday Night Football, and then it dives in to a soggy and dark football game, with one of the most memorable touchdowns in film history. This is an action movie set against the backdrop of American Football and gambling. An action movie directed by Tony Scott, written by Shane Black, and starring Bruce Willis. An action movie so over flowing with excess that it almost collapses in on itself.
THE SUM OF ITS PARTS
It’s 1991. Bruce Willis was the world’s biggest action star, hot off Die Hard 2, but more recently he had bombed with Hudson Hawk and was in need of a hit. Tony Scott had brought us Top Gun and Beverly Hills Cop 2, but had just misstepped quite badly with Days Of Thunder, which was essentially a remake of Top Gun only with cars. Shane Black was the highest paid writer in history for this script, having written the hugely popular first two Lethal Weapon movies. Damon Wayans was a comic star on the rise. All these ingredients were thrown in together, and the resulting movie was less than the sum of its parts, and it’s not really anybody’s fault.
Willis is charming, gruff, dirty and hard smoking PI hired to protect a young Halle Berry. Wayans is his funny failed footballer side-kick. Together they have really good chemistry, and really carry the whole movie. Their chemistry is also aided by Black’s script. While the story is a little too straightforward, his dialogue is great. There are great one-liners every few minutes, and he creates charming and engaging banter between his characters. Unfortunately these characters, like the story, are a bit too straightforward. They are likeable enough, and you do want them to succeed, but they’re just not terribly original.
SCOTT’S UNIQUE VISION
It’s all held together by Tony Scott’s unique vision. He was a pioneer of the MTv style of film making, with kinetic camerawork and fast edits, and it inspired the Michael Bay’s of the world. Just about every Scott movie has the same visual traits. Smoke filled scenes, with a blue tint. Amber skies, filmed during magic hour. And explosions. Lots of explosions. Oh, and blood. Copious amounts of blood. Add all that to the cast and script, and you’ve got a pretty good movie. The main problem is that it feels like it’s trying to duplicate the Lethal Weapon formula, and unfortunately it falls rather short.
So…this is an excessively excessive movie, and that’s the problem. It’s not as good as I remembered. While it is funny, and the action is well done, with a very high body count, the story and characters are too simple. The movie is good, but it is hollow, and there lies the problem.