I decided to revisit an action classic. (Edit: And again for the !01 Action Movies)
Lethal Weapon, after 25 years, is still awesome.
Directed by Richard Donner (Superman: The Movie) stars Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, and Gary Busey.
It also boasts a script penned by Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) who is returning to the director’s chair with Iron Man 3.
The film follows a suicidal cop Martin Riggs (Gibson) who has a death wish since the death of his wife Victoria.
He lives in a trailer with Sam the dog, and takes every dangerous assignment that comes along, in the hopes that it may kill him.
He is partnered up with homicide detective Roger Murtaugh (Glover) as they investigate a death of a young girl. The investigation leads them to a heroin smuggling ring run by General McAllister (Mitch Ryan) and his right hand man, Joshua (Busey) that goes all the way back to the Vietnam war.
Donner has crafted one of my favorite action films (probably somewhere in my top 20), and helmed everyone of the three sequels, which helped maintain the films’ continuity, though I will be the first to admit that the further they get into the series the more missteps there are, though I do like them all.
Gibson’s Riggs is wild-eyed, sarcastic, and violent. In the Director’s Cut of the film he takes on a sniper in a schoolyard, stepping right into the field of fire, and stands unflinching as shots are taken at him, hoping for death, and then doing his job – eliminating the threat.
Murtaugh, on the other hand, is a family man, and has just celebrated his 50th birthday. He’s unhappy to be partnered with Riggs, and is shocked to see how willing the rogue cop seems to be willing to go to die.
But, the two of them work incredibly well together, though the bodies tend to pile up around them, as they shoot and fight their way to the truth.
There are some memorable sequences in the film, the hunt through the Christmas trees when a drug deal goes bad, Riggs’ leap from a building ledge with a jumper in tow, the hostage exchange int he desert, the nightclub shoot out, and of course the final fight between Riggs and Joshua on Roger’s front lawn.
The film has a wicked soundtrack by Michael Kamen and features guitar work by Eric Clapton. And that tape cassette got warn out in my player.
A great film, it was no surprise that Warner Brothers asked for sequel after sequel, but like so many things, the original is still the best.
It also remains one of my favorite Christmas movies (and it totally is!!! It’s a movie, and takes place at Christmas, therefore… Christmas movie) alongside Die Hard (Hmmm, need to rewatch that one again soon).
Which do you prefer the Lethal Weapon series or the Die Hard collection?