Film review: Last Boy Scout, The

Published: Saturday, Dec. 21 1991 12:00 a.m. MST

Bruce Willis has said in recent interviews he doesn't want to do a third "Die Hard" movie because he doesn't want to repeat himself. So along comes "The Last Boy Scout," which isn't so much "Die Hard 3" as it is "Lethal Weapon 3." And lest you think the filmmakers don't notice the resemblance, a scene from the first "Lethal Weapon" is shown on a TV screen about halfway through this movie.

"The Last Boy Scout" casts Willis as a disgraced former Secret Service agent who is now a seedy private eye in Los Angeles. His wife is having an affair with his best friend, his foul-mouthed daughter hates him and he's taken to sleeping it off in his car.

He also hasn't had a client in ages, so when he's offered a bodyguard assignment by a stripper (Halle Berry), Willis takes it, which leads to a run-in with her boyfriend, Damon Wayans. Wayans is a former football star, and when his girl is murdered, Willis reluctantly teams up with him to find the killers.

This leads them to various levels of intrigue, including political corruption, professional sports corruption and illegal drugs, amid lots of comic banter between Willis and Wayans.

"The Last Boy Scout" is at its best during that banter, with both stars getting off some very funny riffs. And, as written by Shane Black, who also scripted (surprise, surprise) "Lethal Weapon," and directed by stylist Tony Scott ("Days of Thunder," "Beverly Hills Cop II," "Top Gun"), there are plenty of stunts, car chases and explosions.

But some aspects of the film are a bit too mean-spirited for my taste and the constant profanity and vulgar one-liners became a bit wearing after a time. Is it really necessary for Willis' daughter to be quite so crude and obnoxious? And the old child-in-peril motif, with Willis' daughter being thrown around and threatened with guns, drags on way too long.

In fact, there seems to be a message at the end of the picture that one way to bring together a dysfunctional family is by killing people with automatic weapons.

Willis, looking sleepy, with a Don Johnson three-day beard, is in peak form here, delivering sassy one-liners - some of them unexpectedly hilarious. And stand-up comic Wayans, best known as the co-star of TV's "In Living Color," here sporting an earring and the number "13" shaved on the back of his bald head, proves he has genuine star power. (He even gets to deliver a truncated version of his Prince imitation.)

Also good are veterans Noble Willingham, Taylor Negron and Badja Djola as various bad guys. And though Chelsea Field, as Willis' wife, and Halle Berry are appealing, they have little to do.

On the whole, "The Last Boy Scout" (rated R for the expected abundance of violence, profanity and vulgarity, along with drug abuse and some nudity) delivers the goods for action fans and has some very funny moments - but there's the nagging sense that it could have been better.

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