tek's rating:

The Last Boy Scout (R)
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Caution: potential spoilers.

This came out in 1991, but I didn't see it until 2019. It's an action/comedy movie, and damn, is it heavy on both. But ultimately, I decided to list my review under "badass." I need to mention that the film has numerous "Holy shit!" and "Oh my God!" moments. The violence can be graphic and deeply disturbing. And the whole thing is desperately bleak, even when it's being funny. You know, often when I'm watching something, part of my mind tends to wander to predictions of how I'll end up rating it, and that can change throughout a film (or show, or whatever). With this one, I started out thinking I probably wouldn't rate it higher than two smileys, but later my estimate went up to three, and ultimately landed at four. (There were moments I thought it was conceivable I might even give it one heart, but... I just couldn't.)

It stars Bruce Willis as a private eye (and major badass) named Joe Hallenbeck. (By the end of the movie, I found myself thinking of the role as peak Willis. I also found myself thinking his character reminded me of Nick Sax from Happy!, and wondered if that character was in any way inspired by Hallenbeck. Or by Bruce Willis in general.) Joe used to be in the Secret Service, and once saved the life of President Carter. However, he was later fired when he punched a senator he was supposed to be protecting, named Calvin Baynard, when he discovered Baynard torturing a woman in his hotel room. (We learn all this through occasional flashbacks.) In the present, Joe's whole life seems to be falling apart. His job as a P.I. doesn't seem to be going too well, and his wife, Sarah (Chelsea Field), is cheating on him, and his 13-year-old daughter, Darian (Danielle Harris), hates him. So, he spends a lot of time drinking and smoking. A friend of his refers a client to him, to act as a bodyguard for an exotic dancer named Cory (Halle Berry). Cory is the girlfriend of a former football star named Jimmy Dix (Damon Wayans), who has been banned from the league because of his gambling and drug use, I guess. (We eventually learn his own tragic backstory that led to his downfall.) He's upset when he finds out Cory has hired Joe, without bothering to tell him she was in any kind of trouble, because he feels he should be able to protect her, himself.

Unfortunately, it turns out neither of them is able to protect her. She had lied about the seriousness of the trouble she was in, and is soon killed by a group of professional hitmen. After that, Joe and and Jimmy team up to figure out who wanted her dead, and why. That whole thing gets rather complicated, and I don't want to even try to explain it in any detail. But it involves the owner of a football team named Sheldon Marcone (Noble Willingham). He has various goons working for him, the leader of whom is a guy named Milo (Taylor Negron), who seemed to me like a pretty good villain. You know, Milo is like the perfect mix of creepy and calm and self-assured and intimidating. Anyway, Joe and Jimmy get into more and more dangerous situations throughout their investigation. Meanwhile, the police are investigating Joe, whom they don't trust, which is convenient for the bad guys, who plan on framing Joe for some of their own crimes. At one point, Joe is captured by the bad guys, and Jimmy tries to find and rescue him. But Darian ends up following him and getting into danger, herself. (The kid is pretty foul-mouthed and disrespectful toward her father the first time we meet her, but later in the movie it becomes clear that she and Joe really do love each other. And I found her rather funny and likable, in much the same way I liked Sara from Adventures in Babysitting. Oh, and I should also mention that the movie's title comes from something Jimmy wrote to Darian on a trading card.)

And... I don't know what else to say about the plot, except that the good guys win in the end. And Joe reconciles with his wife, in a way that I found oddly touching and sweet. (Seriously, there aren't many stories that could pull off the nature of their reconciliation.) Anyway... it's just an incredibly dark and violent movie, but also funny, and it has some genuine personal drama that I felt raised it above its darkness. (I mean, that drama is largely what made the film so dark... but that can be a good thing, as far as storytelling goes.)

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