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Film / The Last Boy Scout

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"This is The '90s. You don't just go around punching people. You have to say something cool first."
Joe Hallenbeck

The Last Boy Scout is a 1991 action film, directed by Tony Scott and written by Shane Black, starring Bruce Willis as Joe Hallenbeck, a private detective and former Secret Service agent, and Damon Wayans as Jimmy Dix, a retired professional football player. The two join forces to solve the murder of Jimmy'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.

Now has a character sheet in progress.

Has the examples of:

  • The Ace: Jimmy was one the top football players of his time and is known in the movie as the "million-dollar arm". This, however, makes him a prime target for the villain's scheme.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Hallenbeck distracts the man about to execute him by making him laugh at his "fat wife" jokes. Done again during the puppet scene.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The ending implies Jimmy and Joe have gone into business together. More action, punching, and wisecracks are sure to follow.
  • Anti-Hero: Joe Hallenbeck is Unscrupulous with some Nominal 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 bad guys learnt the hard way. Still, compared to the people he's fighting, he's 'The Last Boy Scout'.
  • Arc Words:
    • "Life sucks."
    • "Sky's blue, water's wet…"
    • "No heroes left."
  • Artistic License – Martial Arts: This movie was one of the first works to feature the idea that you can kill someone by smashing his nose into his brain. In real life, this is pure fantasy, as the human nose is too small and easily deformable to pierce its way to the brain, and even if it did, the latter would need much more damage to be irreversible destroyed.
  • Asshole Victim: Mike, in the beginning of the film.
  • Awesome by Analysis: How Joe figures out that his wife's cheating on him.
  • Badass Boast: "You touch me again and I'll kill ya."
  • Bedroom Adultery Scene: Hallenback 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, a corrupt football team owner who has formed The Conspiracy so he can have sports gambling legalized.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: Joe and Jimmy are unhinged jerkasses with a lot of personal issues, but they're saints compared to Shelley and Milo.
  • Blackmail Backfire: Cory discovered incriminating evidences against Marcone and tries to blackmail him in exchange for Jimmy getting his job back in the L.A. Stallions. She is shot dead by one of Marcone's hitmen.
  • Blatant Lies: When Joe demands car keys from the home owner who they just crashed another car in his pool, Joe puts a gun against Darian's head threatening to kill her. The pool owner isn't really convinced, especially when Darian calls Joe "Daddy" but relents anyway.
  • Bond One-Liner: The final scene of the movie has Hallenback and Dix discussing future use of Bond One-Liners.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Darian. However, she comes from an extremely troubled home so it's understandable (mostly), and she only behaves this way with Joe.
  • Break the Cutie: Darian is shown to be very traumatized after experiencing being kidnapped by Milo.
  • 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.
  • Car Cushion: Jimmy gets thrown off a viaduct and lands on a car.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Milo is fairly self-aware about being the villain.
    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.
  • Chekhov's Skill:
    • Jimmy's throwing arm. In the beginning of the movie, Jimmy throws a football at an uncouth player's face. He later throws the game ball at Senator Baynard, knocking him down from getting shot by Milo.
    • Jimmy mentions offhand that he's started riding horses and gotten quite good. At the film's climax, he saves the day by throwing a football on horseback.
  • Closet Shuffle: Hallenback is introduced as the cuckolded husband... and as a cop, he correctly sniffs out that the other guy is hiding in the closet and nearly shoots him.
  • Concert Climax: The climax takes place during a big American Football game (possibly the Super Bowl). A US Senator is the target; slight twist, in that he's a corrupt senator who Macrone is targeting because he asked for too much bribe money.
  • The Conspiracy: Sheldon Marcone intends to legalize sports gambling by buying votes from a Senate committee investigating gambling in sports. Senator Baynard was the chairman of the committee who holds the deciding vote. When Marcone tries to buy his vote, Baynard demanded $6 million or he will go to the police. Marcone decided that it is much cheaper to kill the Senator, and frames Joe (who previously worked for the Senator) as Baynard's killer.
  • Continuity Nod: When Joe and Jimmy go to Joe's place to rest for the evening, Darian is watching Lethal Weapon (the infamous torture scene), a movie also written by Shane Black.
  • 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.
    • And :
      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.
    • And :
      Pimp-looking motherfucker with a hat: Oh you're real cool for a guy about to take a bullet.
      Joe Hallenbeck: After fucking your wife, I'll take two.
  • Corrupt Politician: Senator Baynard ruined Joe's life
  • Crapsack World: Taken almost to parodic heights.
  • Darker and Edgier: Shane Black's original script, by all accounts, is less humorous, more personal, and even more violent and cynical than the final film.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Hallenbeck always win the snarking contest against other characters.
    • 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.
    • Even Darian is capable of snarking at people.
    Darian: The hell's that number on the back of your head? Is that like a license plate in case someone tries to steal it?
  • Disposable Woman: Cory is cut down by machine-gun fire in the first third of the film. While Jimmy teams up with Joe to solve her murder, he never seems all that broken up about her death and the snarky, bantering tone of the rest of the film seems incongruous at best in that light.
  • The Dragon: Milo is Marcone's right-hand man, and handles a lot of the heavy lifting for him.
  • 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.
  • Dysfunctional Family: Oh, where to begin, Joe is a misogynistic cynic, Sarah cheats on Joe with his best friend Mike Matthews, and Darian is a dirty-mouthed brat of a daughter.
  • 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."
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: A car falls upside down in a pool before exploding. Milo survives.
  • Film Noir: Downplayed a bit, but the tropes are there—especially with Joe Hallenbeck as a Hardboiled Detective.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Joe and Jimmy started out rather ruff but they quickly becomes friends as the movie goes.
  • Frameup: Joe is set up as the likely suspect for Baynard's murder because he previously worked as one of the Senator's Secret Service detail and attacked him for torturing a woman.
  • Fresh Clue: This is how Joe Hallenbeck figures out that his wife is cheating on him:
    "Oh, that's right. Sometimes you forget I'm a detective. See, there's all this steam in the shower like somebody was just in there. Only your hair's dry. So it must be somebody else we're talkin' about. A male somebody, because the toilet seat's up. Since he's not under the bed I figure you must have stuck him in the closet when you heard my key hit the lock a day early. So... who's the guy in the closet?"
  • 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.
  • From the Mouths of Babes: Darian to Marcone:
    "Eat shit, you fucking redneck!"
  • Gag Penis: Jimmy makes a joke about his dick to troll Joe.
    Joe: Where are you goin'?
    Jimmy: To the bathroom, okay. You wanna come? The doc said I shouldn't lift anything heavy.
    Joe: No, I'll pass.
  • Good is Not Nice: Joe and, to a lesser extent, Jimmy. They're firmly heroic, but that does not mean that they're nice people.
  • Gorn: Brutal moments punctuated by humor. There is a scene where Joe 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. Amazingly, the original screenplay by Shane Black is even bloodier, with Milo murdering women in snuff films that he directs on the side.
  • Happy Dance: Joe tells Jimmy that if he survives their adventure, "I'm gonna dance a jig." After he defeats Milo, that's exactly what he does.
  • He's Got A Gun!: Said by one of the kids, during the introduction of Joe, when he pulls out his gun as they try to steal his watch.
  • Helicopter Blender: How Milo dies after being shot several times by the police and falls into the blades of a circling helicopter.
  • 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.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Marcone stole the wrong suitcase containing the bribe money, and instead got the suitcase bomb that was meant for the Senator.
  • 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.
    • At the end, Joe chides his daughter for swearing...after spending a whole movie swearing like a sailor.
  • 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.
  • Improvised Weapon: While Joe's held at gunpoint in an alley, he makes jokes about a hitman's wife until he's laughing, allowing Joe to give him an Impromptu Tracheotomy.
  • Karmic Death: Marcone grabs what he thinks is the briefcase full of money out of the backseat of the car. But instead it contains the bomb that he meant to kill Sen. Baynard, and Marcone is blown up when he opens it.
  • Little Miss Badass: Darian rescues her dad by pretending to be a lost little girl and approaching a gang of cutthroat corporate mercenaries and hands her father a .357 hidden in her hand puppet.
  • Little Miss Snarker: Darian, being a teenage girl and a snarky brat.
  • Love Hurts: He still loves his wife even after all the fighting and cheating. He also has a negative view of love itself, comparing it to cancer at one point.
    Joe: "I wish the sky wasn't blue. I wish that water wasn't wet. And I wish I didn't still love my wife."
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Jimmy's "million-dollar arm" can apparently throw a football just as well minutes after being shot right through the palm of his hand. (Jimmy does grab his hand painfully after making the throw, but still...)
  • "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.
  • Misplaced-Names Poster: That's not Damon Wayans!
  • Miss Swears-a-Lot: Darian Hallenbeck. Of course, the protagonists and many others do, too, but hers is the most... atypical.
  • Ms Fan Service: 25 year old Halle Berry as a sexy cowgirl stripper along with lots of other hot ladies at the strip club, team after party and cheerleading.
  • 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.
  • Non-Indicative Title: There are no actual boy scouts in this film, let alone the last one.
  • Nice Guy: Contrasting the Jerkasses around him, McCaskey is always respectful and polite, and even admits to Joe that he deeply respects him.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The opening/closing theme, "Friday Night's a Great Night for Football", is a thinly-veiled parody of the theme to Monday Night Football, and Bill Medley's appearance here is supposed to be a thinly-veiled parody of its singer.
  • Nothing Personal:
    • The Jamaican hitman who leads Joe Hallenbeck into a dark alley to finish him off.
      Hitman: Wrong place, wrong time. Nothing personal.
      Joe: That's what you think. Last night I fucked your wife.
    • Joe has this attitude about his best friend setting him up to be killed.
  • Not in the Face!:
    • Whenever someone does something that irritates Hallenback:
      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.
    "Told ya."
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Joe says to Jimmy, "What are you, a fag?"
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner:
    • Quote on top of the page.
    • "Touch me again and I'll kill you."
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner:
    Milo: (when a cop approaches the car asks if there's a problem) Yes, officer - there seem to be too many bullets in this gun. Spoilered as it ties in to Steel Eardrums below.
  • Private Detective: Joe Hallenbeck.
  • Punctuated Pounding
    "I told ya [BIFF!] if you touch me again [BAM!] I'll KILL YA! [POW!]"
  • Ripped from the Phone Book: Jimmy uses a pay phone (in a police station no less) to get an address so he can track down where Joe is. He rips the page from the phone book as Joe's daughter looks on. She then traces the information he wrote down, and rips that page out of the phone book and follows him, leaving the phone book back at the police station with two missing pages!
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: What got Joe kicked out of the Secret Service: He was standing guard outside senator Baynard's hotel room listening to a woman's screams as the senator was beating her up until he finally went inside and punched the senator's teeth in.
  • Self-Plagiarism: Shane Black drew from his own material:
    • The conversation between Joe and Jimmy about the $650 pants was taken from a deleted scene in Lethal Weapon (1987). Murtaugh's daughter is wearing an expensive dress for a New Year's Eve party and he asks, "It doesn't have a little TV in it?" She says, "no" and Murtaugh mutters, "I am very old." The line "There are no more heroes in the world" appears in both movies. Confusingly enough, Jimmy watches the film on television.
    • The line, "Your show, ace", appeared in The Monster Squad.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: As the two heroes are getting pummeled by an unusually verbose Mook's large companion, Jimmy exclaims, "Shit, we're being beat up by the inventor of Scrabble!"
    The envelope, very smart. See, Jake, here's a man who knows when a situation is untenable.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Steel Eardrums: All over the place. One very obvious is when Milo shoots a cop twice from within his car, right in front of a mook's ear. The mook doesn't seem to care.
  • Take Me Out at the Ball Game: The main plot culminates with our heroes trying to stop a corrupt senator from getting assassinated at a football game. In addition, the movie starts with a player Billy Cole, high on PCP, bringing a gun onto the field and shooting the opposing defense's players on the way to the end-zone, shortly before killing himself.
  • This Is Reality: A snark version.
    Hallenbeck: This ain't no game, flash. Real guns, real bullets. It's dangerous.
  • Title Drop: When Jimmy writes his autograph to Darian.
    "To the daughter of the last Boy Scout."
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: McCaskey is the sole Nice Guy in a world full of assholes. He winds up being offhandedly murdered by Milo so he can frame Joe for it.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Darian has a dirty mouth, not only that, she even hid in Jimmy's car, even bringing Joe's .357 behind her hand puppet.
  • Tuckerization: In the opening football scene, the names on two of the football players' jerseys are "Josephson" and "Coates." Barry Josephson produced the movie and Kim Coates plays "Chet" in the movie.
  • Two-Timing with the Bestie: Joe's Establishing Character Moment comes when he discovers his wife Sarah is cheating on him with his best friend Mike, and promptly threatens them at gunpoint. Mike is killed shortly after when he's blown up by a car bomb, but the affair comes back to bite Joe when the police figure it out and suspect Joe killed him.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: After Hallenbeck saved him, Baynard angrily demands to have him arrested. Hallenbeck replies by punching him in the face and gut.
  • Unnecessary Roughness: There's probably 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. It should, nevertheless, draw a flag.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Joe and Jimmy.
  • Wham Line: McCaskey walks up to the car where Milo and his mook have Hallenbeck knocked out in the back seat. He asks the driver if there is anything wrong. Very politely, Milo says, "Yes, officer, there is a problem. Apparently there are too many bullets in this gun." After lightening its load, Milo puts Hallenbeck's fingerprints on the gun, then carefully tosses it on top of the dead detective, and drives off, saying to (the still unconscious) Hallenbeck, "Naughty, naughty, Joseph, you just killed a policeman."
  • What Would X Do?:
    Jimmy: What would Joe do...(Beat) He'd kill everyone, and then smoke some cigarettes.
  • Will Not Tell a Lie: Joe, for the most part. He is far from perfect, but Joe rarely says a deliberate falsehood no matter the stress (he does most notably when he threatens to kill Darian, his daughter, when he needs a car). And he keeps his (snarky) promises. After all he is The Last Boy Scout.
  • World of Jerkass: With the exception of McCaskey, the whole film is filled with unpleasant people:
    • Joe is an unhinged, misogynistic, cynical, foul-mouthed drunk.
    • Joe's wife, Sarah, cheats on him with Mike Matthews and says that "she was lonely" as an excuse for her cheating.
    • Mike, Joe's "best friend", considering he slept with his wife, Sarah and probably set Joe up to get killed, he does die in a car explosion when he was about to leave.
    • Darian, Joe's daughter is a callous, unpleasant teenage brat who has a filthy mouth and is ungrateful and rude to her father.
    • Milo is a slimy, sociopathic hired killer with zero scruples who frequently and smugly mocks whatever poor bastard he has in his sights the second he gets the opportunity while putting on a smarmy and obviously fake "nice guy" act.
    • Downplayed with Jimmy. He cheats on his girlfriend and is a strung-out, drug-addicted mess, but he tries to do the right thing most of the time and is a Friend to All Children.
  • World of Snark: The WHOLE movie is flooding with this.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Milo kidnaps Darian and it's implied that he would have harmed her if Joe didn't back off.
    Milo: You back off Joseph or I'm gonna show your daughter what a hot date I am!
  • Wunza Plot: He's a former Secret Service agent! He's a former pro-football player! They Fight Crime!