- Composed by Michael Kamen
- La-La Land Records / 2015 / 78m
1991’s The Last Boy Scout was off the Joel Silver action movie conveyer belt, directed by Tony Scott from Shane Black’s screenplay, with Bruce Willis playing a washed-up PI and Damon Wayans an American footballer, with the two stumbling upon and then investigating corruption within the sport. The production was reportedly not a happy one, with Scott and Silver hating each other and Willis and Wayans doing the same. Michael Kamen was very much Silver’s go-to composer at the time with the pair’s collaborations including the Die Hard and Lethal Weapon movies and the composer’s score for this one features elements in common with both of those series’ music (he reportedly didn’t like the movie either but did it because of his friendships with Silver and Willis). They are (a lot) more subtle but the way Kamen writes a pair of themes and plays them off between the two leads is not dissimilar to what he did in Lethal Weapon, and the orchestral suspense and action material is very much in the Die Hard ilk. What this score has that’s a little different is a noirish element – screenwriter Black apparently thought the movie was like a modern Raymond Chandler piece – listen to the sultry sound of “Meeting Joe the Dick” or the unused end titles. The very occasional lighter moments are appealing, in particular “Jimmy and Joe in Garage” where the bass (associated with Wayans’s character) really gets a chance to shine.
I mentioned the suspense and action music and there’s certainly more of the former than the latter, but there are some great action cues sprinkled through the album. Early on, “Death on the Gridiron” is explosive; a little later, there’s some wonderful writing in “Cory Dies / Gun Battle” – I just love the rumbling piano. “Darian to the Rescue / Car Chase” is another belter later on, with a modern touch joining the orchestra. “BMW Chase” is probably the best of all, with its brass hits and string runs, vintage Kamen action even if the Irish jig which briefly appears (and is then used for the film’s finale) seems somewhat incongruous out of the context of the movie. The suspense material is all very effective – so effective, some of it isn’t really much fun to listen to. Indeed, it’s a bleak score – the film attempts at times to be funny but Kamen doesn’t ever follow suit, keeping this very serious almost all the time. As is often the case with such scores, it would probably suit a shorter album than this (which runs a shade under 70 minutes before a song and some bonus tracks) and, while I prefer his more expansive scores particularly later in his career, this sort of movie and score was bread and butter for Kamen for so long. It’s never been released at all before this 2015 La-La Land edition which will be very gratefully received by all Kamen fans, myself included.
Rating: *** 1/2