Lethal Weapon is one of those holes in my movie viewing that I’m just now getting around to filling. I had seen the fourth installment way back in the late 90s when some family members rented it, but have absolutely no memory of it. To be perfectly honest, I’ve never been all that interested in watching these, but here we are. Let’s watch Mel Gibson act caa-raa-zy!
I’m not going to lie: Gibson was a real distraction for me. I do not like the guy given his more recent bad behavior, and it’s especially difficult to look past that when watching him as Martin Riggs. With lines like “I never forget an asshole,” it’s hard for me not to complete the thought with, “Well, it takes one to know one.” At least Riggs has an acceptable excuse for the suicidal and unpredictable behavior (he’s mourning his wife’s death in a traffic accident).
But putting Gibson’s real life aside, Lethal Weapon is a funny action movie. A buddy cop film is sunk if the leads have zero chemistry, but that is not the case here. Gibson and Danny Glover work so well with each other, it’s clear why this franchise has been so successful.
Still, I find it hard to really gush about this movie. It’s funny, and has great action sequences. The cast’s chemistry is excellent, and their performances great, but… Die Hard for life, man. If I’m going to pick an 80s action flick to watch again, it’s going to be that one.
This is the movie that created the buddy cop genre. The chemistry on show here between Danny Glover and Mel Gibson was like lightning in a bottle. The two just gel with each other so well, and everything else about this film takes a backseat to their interactions.
Glover plays Roger Murtaugh, an LA cop who recently passed his 50th birthday (he’s too old for this shit). When a young hooker throws herself off a building, Roger has to bring in a new partner to help crack the case. That new partner is Martin Riggs (Gibson). Riggs is a killing machine, joining several different branches of the armed forces. He is also crazy, struggling to deal with the recent death of his wife. Riggs has a death wish and takes outrageous risks that nobody would normally take, usually dragging Murtaugh along for the ride. The two start up an uneasy alliance to solve this apparent suicide, eventually uncovering a huge drug dealing operation. Can these two honest cops stop the bad guys, or will Martin’s crazy outlook on life and a shoot first, ask questions later mentality get in the way?
Right from the start of this film, it just works. I love all of the characters, especially Riggs and Murtaugh, but many of the supporting characters are a lot of fun too. The chief of police and the way he has to deal with Riggs, to the police shrink that rightly thinks Riggs is suicidal. Everything about this film fits so perfectly together. It is why the buddy cop genre has been constantly copied, but never again would it reach the heights achieved in this great action comedy.
This is the film that launched Mel Gibson in America. He has used to role of Martin Riggs to make quite a nice career for himself, and despite all of his current Jew hating problems, I will always love this movie and respect him as an actor. One of the things that sets this film apart from other action films is the comedy, and a lot of that is from Gibson. The film is definitely an action movie first, but there are plenty of laughs here too. Gibson’s charisma and his chemistry with Glover makes this film work so well. I recently did a review for Knocked Up and made mention of the fact that how Katherine Heigl is away from the camera left a bad taste in my mouth. This is definitely not the case with Gibson. I am able to overlook all of his shortcomings off screen and just enjoy the crazy Martin Riggs for all that he is.
While Gibson rightly gets a lot of credit for making this work, he is only one half of the puzzle. Danny Glover plays his part in this partnership too, he plays the stuck up family man Roger Murtaugh so well and is the perfect foil to the craziness of Martin Riggs. Glover also gets his fair share of laughs in this film too, which only increases as the series go on, but more on that next time.
There is something for everyone in this film. Lethal Weapon is the best action film series outside of Die Hard. It has action, comedy, great chemistry and a solid up and coming leading man.