"This is the '90s. You don't just go around punching people. You have to say something cool first."The Last Boy Scout
— Joe Hallenbeck
is a 1991 action film starring Bruce Willis
as a former Secret Service agent, now working as a private detective, and Damon Wayans as a retired professional football player. The two join forces to solve the murder of Wayans' character’s girlfriend (played by the then-obscure Halle Berry
). The entire film consists of often violent action scenes and an endless parade of one-liners.
Has the examples of:
- Actually Pretty Funny: Hallenbeck distracts the man about to execute him by making him laugh at his "fat wife" jokes.
- And done again during the puppet scene.
- Anti-Hero: Joe Hallenbeck is a type III with some Type V moments. Aside from being a self loathing, pessimistic, chain smoking, borderline misogynistic bastard ("...and then some."), he also gives a sinister death threat to two of the badguys. He doesn't lie, something the badguys learnt the hard way. Still, compared to the people he's fighting, he's 'The Last Boy Scout'
- Asshole Victim: Mike, in the beginning of the film.
- Bad Ass Boast: "You touch me again and I'll kill ya."
- Bedroom Adultery Scene: Bruce Willis' character is introduced as the cuckolded husband in this scene... and as a cop, he correctly sniffs out that the other guy is hiding in the closet and nearly shoots him.
- Big Bad: Sheldon Marcone.
- Bond One-Liner - The final scene of the movie has the Damon Wayans and Bruce Willis discussing future use of Bond One-Liners.
- Bratty Teenage Daughter: Darian.
- Bribe Backfire: Subverted: The Senator rejects the villain's offer of a bribe and threatens to go to the police... because the bribe isn't large enough. The villain ends up deciding it'd just be cheaper to kill him.
- Card-Carrying Villain: Milo
Joe: You're the bad guy.
Milo: I am the bad guy.
- Chekhov's Gun: The duo comes across a box of shotgun shells. Later, Jimmy uses one to help Joe, Darian and himself escape Marcone.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: Part of the Deadpan Snarker one-liners.
Milo: Just once, I would like to hear you scream in pain.
Joe Hallenbeck: Play some rap music.
Cory: Go stick your head in that speaker, you'll be screaming "Play the funky music, white boy".
Joe Hallenbeck: The screaming part, I believe.
Joe Hallenbeck: After fucking your wife, I'll take two.
- Corrupt Politician: Senator Baynard.
- Crapsack World: Taken almost to parodic heights.
- "Nobody likes you. Everybody hates you. You're gonna lose."
- Deadpan Snarker:
- Hallenbeck always win the snarking contest against other characters. See below.
- Jimmy's no slouch himself, and as this is a World of Snark everyone else gets off a few zingers as well, but Hallenback's the unquestioned master of the snark.
- The Dragon: Milo.
- Drugs Are Bad: Manages to do this in a reasonably subtle way, contrasting Joe's zero tolerance with justifying Jimmy's addiction through his tragic backstory.
Jimmy: I use that shit to get by.
Hallenbeck: I don't use it. I get by.
- Embarrassing Middle Name: After Jimmy tells him that "Danger is his middle name", Joe tells in turn that his middlename is Cornelius.
Hallenbeck: You tell anybody, I'll kill you.
- Establishing Character Moment: Hallenbeck comes home after a very hard day...then looks at the just-used bedroom toilet with the seat up and immediately surmises his wife's been cheating on him. Then after accusing her of cheating, he aims his gun at the closet, counts to 3, and gets his wife to confess to cheating with his friend Mike Matthews (who was, naturally, in the closet). The sequence displays both his brilliant deductive reasoning and his unhinged mind.
- Eureka Moment: Overlaps with Oh, Crap with Joe, as Jimmy hints that the supposed key he tossed into Marcone's fireplace is "the kind that Shred."
- Faux Affably Evil: Marcone and Milo. Both lose their niceness VERY quickly.
- Fire-Forged Friends: Joe and Jimmy started out rather ruff but they quickly becomes friends as the movie goes.
- Friend to All Children: Despite his drug problems and short temper, Jimmy is remarkably good with kids, if Darian is any indication because they quickly bond with each other after a little friction.
- Freudian Excuse: A lot of Jimmy's issues can be traced to the fact that his pregnant wife was hit and killed by a drunk driver, killing both her and the baby, while Jimmy was away playing one of his best games.
- Gorn: Brutal moments punctuated by humor. There is a scene where Bruce Willis punches a guy's nose through his brain (said guy is a young Kim Coates in a very early example of his career as a Chronically Killed Actor). Also the infamous helicopter scene.
- Helicopter Blender
- Hidden Heart of Gold: Amidst all of Hallenbeck's vices, he does care about Jimmy and remains on the side of good throughout the movie.
- Honor Before Reason: Again with Hallenbeck, albeit an odd case. Jimmy lampshades it by pointing out that he is currently risking his life and liberty to save a man who unjustly got him fired and to avenge the death of a man who was sleeping with his wife and most likely tried to get him killed.
- Hypocrite: The exchange where Joe confronts Jimmy about his drug use. Jimmy defends himself about how it makes it easier for him to get through the day. Joe coldly replies "I don't use. I get by." Joe, we should probably note, is depicted as a borderline alcoholic.
- If We Survive This
Joe Hallenbeck: "I swear to Christ that if I survive this fucking case I'm gonna dance a jig." He does.
- Knight in Sour Armor: Joe's of the second type.
- The Last Title: The title.
- Love Hurts: "I wish the sky wasn't blue. I wish that water wasn't wet. And I wish I didn't still love my wife."
- Metaphor Is My Middle Name:
Hallenbeck: This ain't no game, flash. Real guns, real bullets. It's dangerous.
Jimmy: Danger's my middle name.
- Miss Swears-a-Lot: Darian Hallenbeck. Of course, the protagonists and many others do, too, but hers is the most... atypical.
- My Fist Forgives You: Hallenbeck finds his wife having an affair with his best friend after he pulls his gun out. Outside, he gives the friend the offer "Head or gut?", and the friend chooses gut.
- Nothing Personal: The Jamaican hitman who leads Joe Hallenbeck into a dark alley to finish him off.
Hitman: Wrong time wrong place, nothing personal.
Joe: That's what you think. Last night I fucked your wife.
- Not in the Face!:
- Whenever someone does something that irritates Bruce Willis' character:
Hallenbeck: (to the friend his wife is having an affair with) Head or gut?
Matthews: Gut. (cue the punching)
- And at the end of the movie...
Hallenbeck: (to the ingrate Senator whose life he helped save) Head or gut?
Sen. Baynard: Huh? (gets punched in the face and the gut)
- One-Hit Kill: Hallenbeck kills one of the bad guys by punching him in the nose, which can be lethal under some circumstances.
- Pre Ass Kicking One Liner:
- Quote on top of the page.
- "Touch me again and I'll kill you."
- Private Detective: Joe Hallenbeck.
- Punctuated Pounding
"I told ya [BIFF!] if you touch me again [BAM!] I'll KILL YA! [POW!]"
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness:
- As well as Scrabble Man
The envelope, very smart. See, Jake, here's a man who knows when a situation is untenable.
- Soft-Spoken Sadist: Milo.
- Stuffed In The Fridge: Cory. An especially egregious example when you consider that Joe and Jimmy spend the rest of the movie tossing out flippant one-liners.
- Take Me Out at the Ball Game
- This Is Reality: A snark version.
Hallenbeck: This ain't no game, flash. Real guns, real bullets. It's dangerous.
- Unnecessary Roughness: I'm pretty sure that there's nothing in the playbook to describe the illegal play in which you get a star football player high on PCP and have him shoot three defenders to reach the endzone and score the winning touchdown.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Joe and Jimmy.
- Wham Line: A police officer walks up to the car where a couple of mooks have Hallenbeck knocked out in the back seat. The policeman asks the driver if there is anything wrong. Very politely, he says, "Why yes, officer, there are too many bullets in this gun." After lightening its load, the mook wraps the gun around Hallenbeck's hand, then carefully tosses it on top of the dead police officer, and drives off, saying to (the still unconscious) Hallenbeck, "Naughty, naughty, Joseph, you just killed a polceman."
- What Would X Do?:
What would Joe do...(beat)
He'd kill everyone, and then smoke some cigarettes.
- World of Snark: The WHOLE movie is flooding with this.
- Your Cheating Heart: Gives us the Establishing Character Moment for Joe (the cuckoldee), Sarah (the wife), and Mike (the other guy). Joe is willing to put a bullet in his closet on the mere suspicion that Sarah is cheating...and he's right.