Sunday, 27 July 2014

Lethal Weapon (1987)

Does Lethal Weapon NEED any introduction? I really don't think so. THE buddy cop movie by which all others ended up being measured, this was the film to put Danny Glover and Mel Gibson together with highly entertaining, and explosive, results.

I'll briefly surmise the plot. Mel plays Martin Riggs, a suicidal cop who lives for his job. Danny Glover is Roger Murtaugh, a 50-year-old cop who just wants to keep doing his job well while avoiding any of the downsides of the job, like bullet wounds or premature death. The two men are partnered up together, and it's not long until the case that they're working on places both of them in great danger.

With solid direction from Richard Donner, despite a flurried final fight sequence, and a cracking script from Shane Black, Lethal Weapon is everything that you should love about '80s action movies. All of the cliches are in place, although they weren't necessarily cliches when the movie was released, and every element is added to the movie without any hint of shame. The saxophone popping up all over the soundtrack, the troubled hero, the moment at which it all becomes personal, the mad villainous henchman played by Gary Busey. Admittedly, that last part isn't a cliche. It's just a masterstroke.

After attaining iconic status with his leading role in the Mad Max movies, Gibson finds himself in the enviable position of being able to have fun with another character quickly embraced by, and absorbed into, the pop culture of the time. Glover is in the same position, thankfully, as both men have their fair share of great moments. Lethal Weapon benefits from a central pairing so perfect that one man cannot shine without the other. But it's not JUST all about the men, oh no. It may seem that way, yet Traci Wolfe and Darlene Love also get to make a great impression as, respectively, Mrs Trish Murtaugh and daughter Rianne. Mary Ellen Trainor also pops up as a psychologist, a character she would reprise in the sequels, and she'd even gain an actual name in the third movie. Tom Atkins appears briefly, lending some Atkins greatness to the proceedings, Mitch Ryan is a bad man, and Busey is the REAL, and more entertaining, bad man. Well, he's the one who thinks himself capable of facing off against Gibson's character, which makes him highly dangerous.

Full of great moments, that are deservedly remembered with fondness, and great characters, Lethal Weapon endures, despite the fluffiness of Gibson's oh-so-eighties hair and the potential to teeter into all-out ridiculousness, because of the chemistry between everyone onscreen, be it Riggs and Murtaugh, the goodies and the baddies, or even the warmth between Murtaugh and his loving family. A classic of the genre.



  1. Much like "Die Hard" created a sub-genre of the action movie, so did LETHAL WEAPON. It may not have created The Buddy Cop Movie as I believe "Freebie & The Bean" starring James Caan and Alan Arkin did that. But LETHAL WEAPON set the template for every Buddy Cop movie that came after it.

    1. Ooooh, not seen Freebie & The Bean yet. Must get to that. I did recall that Running Scared (with Gregory Hines and Billy Crystal) came out the year before Lethal Weapon, and I assumed that there had been some other movies before that to either use the template, or at least come close. Cheers.