Lethal Weapon

Review No. 485

NOTE: This review regards the director’s cut. Per the usual, I haven’t seen the original, but I’m curious as to whether the scenes that messed up the pacing were the ones that made it to the initial edit.

At times here, the humor can be a “Lethal Weapon” to your lungs.

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B-MINUS

DIRECTED BY RICHARD DONNER. PRODUCED BY DONNER AND JOEL SILVER.  WRITTEN BY SHANE BLACK. STARRING MEL GIBSON (DETECTIVE SGT. MARTIN RIGGS) AND DANNY GLOVER (DETECTIVE SGT. ROGER MURTAUGH). ALSO STARRING GARY BUSEY, MITCHELL RYAN, TOM ATKINS, DARLENE LOVE, JACKIE SWANSON, TRACI WOLFE, DAMON HINES, EBONIE SMITH, STEVE KAHAN, MARY ELLEN TRAINOR, ED O’ROSS, BLACKIE DAMMETT, AND AL LEONG. DISTRIBUTED BY WARNER BROS. ON MARCH 6, 1987. PRODUCED IN ENGLISH BY THE UNITED STATES. DIRECTOR’S CUT RUNS 1 HOUR, 56 MINUTES; THEATRICAL CUT RUNS 1 HOUR, 50 MINUTES.  NOT FOR CHILDREN, DUE TO NUDITY AND INTENSE VIOLENCE.

LETHAL WEAPON WAS WATCHED ON MAY 21, 2013.

“I don’t make things difficult. That’s the way they get, all by themselves.” –Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson)

Lethal Weapon feels like something of an anachronistic movie. It’s from one of cinema’s Golden Ages (at least to the heart of this critic), yet it’s basically anything people go to the movies for today: a simple plot, lots of comedy, tons of action, and an overall good time. Once the movie proves it isn’t absolutely abysmal, you just have to let loose with it and enjoy it all. Who cares if clichés are flying left and right? Shane Black (the more recent Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Iron Man 3) wrote this screenplay, so you know before pressing “play” that he’s not exactly embracing the stereotypes of a cop flick.

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The kids are afraid of him.

Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) is a depressed Detective Sergeant for the LAPD. He misses his deceased wife so much that he hires a prostitute to come to his house just so he has company as he watches The Three Stooges. He encounters a suicidal man and “warns” him that if he jumps, he’ll be jumping with a (highly suicidal) cop. And on top of all that, he’s been paired with an upright, stern, married cop, Detective Sgt. Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover). Their case centers on a mysterious sniper who unloaded on several elementary school students in broad daylight. But they have another case between them that is just as big: like everyone else, Murtaugh thinks Riggs is psychopathic. His biggest fear is that his partner will put a bullet or ten through his brain.

The chemistry between Gibson and Glover is outstanding. Their banter is very fun to watch, and although we all know the formula of a buddy comedy very well, it’s almost surprising that they learn to respect each other in the end. Oh and there’s some one-sided banter, too: Glover’s “I’m too old for this s__t!” one-liner warrants a laugh every time it’s delivered. Perhaps that line is the single most memorable ingredient in this movie. It begins as pure entertainment. ’80s cheese, dark humor, and supporting characters who are either sardonic or stupid. Though by an hour through, the movie begins to drag. The jokes begin to lose your attention, and at one point or another, it’s become nothing but a mess of hyperkinetic gun violence. Lethal Weapon is a good movie. Knowing these are the only Gibson-Glover collaborations, I do plan on continuing through the sequels. All I can hope is that the sequels are more sensible in their pacing.

STAY TUNED FOR MY “TO THE WONDER” REVIEW @ 4:30

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