Movie of the Day – Lethal Weapon

In the season of giving, one must give thanks to the movies from the past that influence our cinema today.  On this day, we reflect on the buddy cop genre of films with the movie that pretty much made the genre a main staple and often overused device for movies.  Lethal Weapon is pretty much the be all, end all of the buddy cop genre.  There couldn’t have been a more odd ball pairing of two differing personalities in one movie that had all the 80s flair for violence and action rolled into one.  Gibson, Glover, and director Richard Donner have given the movie going public a gift that we will come to cherish (the Lethal Weapon series) and loathe (Cop Out and to a lesser extent, Rush Hour).

L.A. cop Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson), whose wife has recently died, is a loose cannon with a seeming death wish. This makes him indispensable in collaring dangerous criminals, but a liability to any potential partners. Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover), a conservative family man who wants to stay alive for his upcoming 50th birthday, is partnered with Riggs. As Riggs gets to know Murtaugh and his family, he begins to mellow, though his insistence on using guerilla tactics to catch criminals is still (put mildly) above and beyond the call of duty. The main villain is The General (Mitchell Ryan), a drug dealer responsible for the death of the daughter of one of Murtaugh’s oldest friends. The General is also in charge of a deadly, militia-like gang of smugglers. Adding fuel to the fire is The General’s chief henchman, played with all stops out by Gary Busey. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

You might be asking yourself, “is this a Christmas movie?”  Yes it is my fellow movie lovers.  Writer Shane Black has a habit of writing a lot of movie that take place during the holidays.  I guess it is the notion that nothing bad ever happens during the Christmas holiday that makes all the violence and craziness seem amplified.  All the action in the movie takes place over the holidays with the final confrontation happening on Christmas Eve, which is about a dick move as it can get.

The films strength lies with the actors and since this is a buddy cop movie, you have to have to some dynamic characters melding with one another.  I enjoyed the fact that movie went with the kind of the straight laced cop who has weathered years on the force and the young, suicidal cop that is just off the handles both mentally and law abiding.  When you think of the buddy cop genre, you think Riggs and Murtaugh.  They are the odd couple pairing that drives the character development with the crazy and tempered moods that each have.  You think that the dynamic might not work, especially considering the past roles that Gibson and Glover have done, but there is this natural chemistry that develops between the two of them and this is what makes the movie work.

While I want to focus solely on the chemistry between the manic Riggs and “too old for this shit” Murtaugh, the action in the movie is top notch.  It’s a like a perfect maelstrom of acting, action, and directing that propels the movie.  I also like to think that the movie came out just at the right time during the days of the glorified violence of the 1980s.  When movies like Rambo, Die Hard and any number of Arnold films were coming out of the wood work, seeing a movie that incorporated the aesthetic of violence and place the dynamic of the character development with two diverging personalities was refreshing.

Alright so enough with the review talk and lets get down to the brass tacks.  Riggs is crazy, Murtaugh is an old badass, Busey is just Busey but sane for some reason and the movie is kick ass.  It is the epitome of the buddy action films and the bible in which all those other buddy cop films strive to be.  Sure they ended up beating a dead horse when they went back to the well for numbers 3 and 4, but since the formula stayed the same I can’t really complain.  Also to tie this all together back to this being a Christmas movie, when the final scene of the movie is Riggs giving Murtaugh a hollow-point bullet as a gift, well that is the gift that keeps on giving.

About Nick
I am just another blogger putting his thoughts into a website. My love is movies so most of my musings will be movie related. I work as an online marketer for an advertising company and when I am not earning a paycheck, I moonlight as a vigilante film blogger.

2 Responses to Movie of the Day – Lethal Weapon

  1. Frank Bishop says:

    It is the mullet, so wavy and feathered and extremely deadly.

    • Nick says:

      I wish Swayze and Gibson could have starred in a movie called “Business in the Front, Deadly in the back”. The amount of mullet goodness would have collapsed the universe. Also Billy Ray Cyrus could have provided some soundtrack help.

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