The Last Boy Scout

*Originally written in 2003

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One of the last great action movies, before the days of massive CG explosions and battles kicked in, The Last Boy Scout signalled the end of an era- No-one wanted to see the ‘one man taking on an army’ kind of film anymore, though cleverly this film subverts that genre with its sharp script.

Halle Berry stars as a dancer, her character is not the sharpest, she falls for a simple trick and is killed. The men who treat women badly in the film are shown to be scumbags, and each of these men gets what they deserve. In the case of Joe’s wife, she is strong, but side-lined for most of the film (she was screwing her husband’s partner), but his daughter, played by the magnificent Danielle Harris, is witty, intelligent and strong, and saves the day on a couple of occasions. Yes it is a macho film, but it is aware of that fact, and that within this genre such a fact can be subverted. Admittedly this has been done much better in other films, but The Last Boy Scout still tries to be ‘one for the men’ mainly.

Joe, a washed up ex-bodyguard, played by Bruce Willis, is hired to protect a washed up ex-NFL star’s dancer girlfriend. Wayans – The NFL star doesn’t like it, believing he can do the job himself. When she is killed, the two form an unlikely partnership and investigate her death. They uncover a plot which involves senators, and coaches, and they race to save the life of the scumbag Senator Willis once worked for. Joe’s daughter is kidnapped, and he comes to remember that family is the most important thing he has, and he will not let anything harm that. After many explosive fights, the 3 square up against the bad guys in a final encounter.

The stunts are worthy of mentioning in the same breath as those of Die Hard, but as they are not confined spatially, they have less of an impact. However, the script is far superior than most action movies, and it probably ranks in my top 10 most quotable movies. It seems that every line of dialogue is repeatable. Wayans is excellent, almost equalling Eddie Murphy’s Beverly Hills Cop performance, Willis is perfect as Joe, Harris proves she is easily one of the best actresses around, but for some reason she never gets the big parts, and the rest of the cast is strong. There are countless funny moments, the action is adrenaline charged, and the direction is fast and controlled by Tony Scott. This was widely overlooked for a variety of reasons, but all self-respecting action fans should definitely get this on DVD as you won’t be disappointed.

Let us know in the comments what you think of The Last Boy Scout!

TTT – Ridley and Tony Scott

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Greetings, Glancers! On today’s Top Ten Tuesdays List I change things a little by taking two of Cinema’s finest British exports – the Scott brothers. Both brothers achieved incredible commercial success and more often than not plenty of critical and fan acclaim. I’ve split the list so I get five films by each brother, mainly because I was struggling to select 10 films by both Ridley and Tony that I truly loved. That means of course that some great films are missing, but I still feel the 10 films below are worthy of every film fan’s time, some iconic, some timeless, others pure entertainment. I will say there are a few films I have not yet seen, namely The Martian and Exodus by Ridley and Unstoppable by Tony. But alack and alas and alarum, lets proceed with the things! Exeunt!

10: Black Rain

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A film which I almost never see on any Top List of Ridley Scott movies, this is drenched with 80s cool through and through and features decapitation – that’s two big thumbs up from the outset! I’ve always loved the look and feel and atmosphere of the movie, what starts off as a buddy cop movie soon takes a darker turn as Michael Douglas and Andy Garcia get sucked into Japan’s lethal underbelly. This one has slipped off the radar of most people who enjoy 80s (particularly action) movies, but it is worth another look thanks to the cast, the action, the sound, and the cool.

9: The Fan

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Unfairly savaged by critics and quite a commercial bomb upon release, The Fan may not be as good as the earlier (unrelated) film of the same same which starred Lauren Bacall and Micahel Biehn, but this is still a thriller which deserves better than what it got. Robert De Niro is great as the titular fan, taking his stalking to crazier levels than in The King Of Comedy and Wesley Snipes also does a good job in a rare straight role. Through in a superb supporting cast including Ellen Barken, John Leguizamo, and Benicio Del Toro and you have everything you need for a rip-roaring tale of paranoia and celeb hunting.

8: Top Gun

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As much as I watched Top Gun in my youth, I was never as huge a fan as most people. It’s difficult to dismiss it though as it is both a highly watchable piece of entertainment which will suck in modern viewers as much as those who were around first time, even if all the young, bronzed bodies and cliches are hilarious. Still, it features some of the best aerial action scenes ever captured, a number of stars on the rise gives excellent performances, and it has a number of iconic moments, memorable pumping soundtrack, and an encyclopedia of quotable dialogue.

7: Gladiator

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Ridley Scott’s 1990s movies were, by and large, forgettable flops. Indeed, by the turn of the century it seemed that he had lost his way and was out of favour with regards to the viewing public. Enter Gladiator. This film shot Scott back into the pantheon of great directors, introduced the world to Russell Crowe, and portrayed the first truly breathtaking view of Ancient Rome. It is hardly a film without flaws, but again the violence and action, the score, visuals, gripping performances, rousing speeches, and of course the engaging story all pulled together to create a massive hit and a film which is still enjoyable sixteen years later. Yikes, sixteen years. I saw this upon release as part of school trip. I studied Latin in school, and upon the advice of a fellow pupil who had already seen it several times, we were able to convince the teacher to take the class on this valuable trip. Memories.

6. The Hunger

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Tony Scott is often remembered more for his flair than his storytelling. Visual flair is of course a way of telling stories and with The Hunger the visuals and the atmosphere they create are often what are solely remembered. David Bowie and Catherine Deneuve (what a pairing) are the eternal couple of vampires who engage in a love triangle with Susan Sarandon – a Doctor who studies the correlation between sleep and aging. It’s a highly stylized, highly sensual, and quite violent vampire movie, arguably the first of the modern era to truly show these creatures as overtly sexual and able to exist in the 20th Century.

5. Blade Runner

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Speaking of visuals, it would be hard to argue against Blade Runner being one of the most visually influential movies of all time. Rain-drenched futuristic cities, trash-ridden and neon-laden and populated with hunched shouldered denizens who weave in and out of crowds, between starbound vehicles and Asian marketplaces, surrounded by towering monuments to commercialism, power, money, and soullessness. Luckily there is an enigmatic story too, one with rambling philosophy and existential crisis, and at the heart, if there is a heart, a number of fine performances from Harrison Ford, Darryl Hannah and Rutger Hauer.

4. Thelma And Louise

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Any of the top five movies could be number 1 for me, but it’s these top four which have had the longest lasting impact. Thelma And Louise is a flawless tale and sadly a film the likes of which we have seen all too rarely. I love its blend (and twists) on the road movie, camaraderie, action, comedy, and its performances. It’s rare to have a cast this good all being this strong together and for the film to churn out memorable moments and dialogue throughout.

3. True Romance

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I often wonder what this would have been if it had been directed by Tarantino himself, but I don’t think it could have been bettered. Tarantino’s dialogue is of course one reason to recommend the movie, and when coupled with Scott’s stylish direction we have a pseudo road movie which is one of the finest ensemble pieces of the decade. It’s difficult to think of any movie with a more impressive cast – Joining Slater and Arquette as leads we have the likes of Brad Pitt, Gary Oldman, Christopher Walken, Samuel L Jackson, Dennis Hopper, Val Kilmer, Saul Rubinek, James Gandolfini, Chris Penn, Michael Rappaport etc etc. There are so many great scenes in this movie, from the Sicillian speech to the final shootout, and the pacing is breathless and energetic without being frantic (I’m looking at you, Domino). And at the core it’s all about love.

2. The Last Boyscout

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I’ve of course spoken about my love for this film elsewhere on the site, but it’s one big macho, quotable sensation which never fails to have me laughing my nuts off. Highly recommended, but I also appreciate that many will simply find it too dumb or too offensive to enjoy.

  1. Alien

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My number one (as I’ve said) could have been any of the previous few films, but I feel that Alien remains the best out of any of the films which the brothers have made. Of course it’s a personal favourite – how could it not be? A nightmarish vision of the future, an all too realistic approach to science fiction, and the first film of the modern era to make people genuinely believe that somewhere up there, there could be a creature lurking around with acid for blood and a tongue like a piston, ready to snap us in half. It plays sublimely on main of our fears – the unknown, the dark, being helpless, claustrophobia, sex, disease, even technology, and the cold and detached atmosphere broken sporadically by howling sound or shocking bouts of horror and violence create a spectacular sense of tension and unease. The creature itself is glorious, the effects hold up today, and the cast is wonderful.

What are your favourite movies by Tony and Ridley Scott? Obviously there are quite a few big films I haven’t listed, so feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!