Film scores

Soundtrack review: The last boy scout (Michael Kamen – 1991)

The fact that I haven’t been able to connect with Michael Kamen’s music yet is frustrating to me, because he has scored some of my favorite and most nostalgia inducing action movies of the 80s and 90s: the “Lethal weapon” series, the “Die hard” series as well as what still is my favorite Bruce Willis movie, “The last boy scout”. I’ve seen it dozen times, I know it by heart and a lot of scenes still crack me up. LLL Records just released the definitive version of the score and I really, really want to like it… I love the movie so much and I want to have another thing to attach to this affection. So despite my doubts about Michael Kamen I am getting into this score hopeful and with an open ear. And that Bill Medley song at the end…can’t wait for that one.

My problem with Michael Kamen’s music is that it is mostly tense; it’s tense and uncomfortable to me from the first seconds. I don’t even have time to adjust my earphones before the strict, militaristic and cold music starts. There is almost no joy in the music, it’s way too serious. I know the movie. The movie is fun, fast paced and full of smart exchanges. The music doesn’t show that. The music takes the fun and joy out of the film. It’s as if you have a colorful picture and then a rain comes and washes all the color away leaving only grey and black. The music doesn’t vary and doesn’t change pace. It’s just a continuous military suspenseful cue that is way too dark for the movie.

Of course there are some subtle inflexions and inserts in the cues because we are dealing with a masterful composer. The cloudy skies are broken every now and then by a shy ray of light like “Lerve”. This shows some heart and I wish there was more music like this. I appreciate great and heavy action cues like “Cory dies / gun battle”. I like the suave rhythm of “Jimmy’s flashback / bathroom”. Slowly, as if after a grumpy very early wake up on a cold and rainy day I am starting to warm up, the score doesn’t feel as frustrating. I still can’t connect with it or find anything I would want to come back to but at least the experience is more enjoyable. I also care for the moody jazz vibes.

I guess my biggest problem is the connection to the movie. This is a much too dark and serious score for a joy like “The last boy scout”. I am sure I would have appreciated the score more had it been for a different kind of movie. I also know that this is not fair to Michael Kamen’s music and I should be able to separate it from any memories or feelings and just care about the music, except that I can’t. it’s one of my dearest flicks and I am emotionally invested. This will not be the composition which will bring me closer to Kamen. At least the end winks at me with the Irish jig on which Bruce Willis is dancing at the end of the movie, once the bad guys are gone.

Cue rating: 81 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 19 / 74

Album excellence: 25%

Highlights:

Cory Dies – Gun Battle

Jimmy’s Flashback – Bathroom

Shake Your Hand – This Ain’t No Game

Life Sucks

Joe To The Rescue – Escape – Stadium – Irish Washerwoman (Jig)

Fuck You, Sarah

(Bonus) Titles (Alternate)

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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