The Alpha and the Omega of Cop Buddy Action Films!
At the time of this writing we've recently past the twenty year anniversary of this kick ass action flick's release. Mullets be damned, Gibson's Rep, tarnished though it may be... Predator 2 or no Predator 2, Lethal Weapon is still a lethal fucking weapon worth its weight in Phalanges to Posterior contact. It's unquestionably a 1980's action movie with all the peaks and valleys thereof, but I'll be dipped in whip and whipped by dips if that isn't part of its charm and class... yeah, baby, it's right up there with Die Hard.
The time of Lethal Weapon's release may have been over twenty years ago, but I submit to you that it's still not "too old for this shit!"
It's an eventful December for the now fifty, but still in shape LAPD Detective Sergeant Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover). It's his birthday, he's just got a call from an old Vietnam War buddy and he's been grudgingly granted a new partner in the form of Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson).
None of these things really count as good news for ol' Rog. But the day gets worse when he's assigned to investigate the homicide of Amanda Hunsacker. While audiences might be more interested in the fact that she's played by Jackie Swanson ("Kelly Gaines" from Cheers) and that she's briefly, but beautifully topless (while alive), Roger is more interested in the fact that she shares the same last name with the aforementioned Vietnam buddy Michael Hunsaker (Tom Atkins). Hunsaker's demand is that Roger find out who contributed to this horror and kill them all.
Meanwhile, still tortured from the recent death of his wife, fellow (though younger) Vietnam Vet Riggs is busy trying to find out who he is and kill himself... and he damn near succeeds. Needless to say, the team up of an unstable and suicidal maniac cop ("I'm fucked and nobody wants to work with me!", he says.) and a loyal if troubled family man, contemplating retirement mixes almost as well as Chili Con Carne and Peanut Butter (I've tried it and... no.).
Viva La Difference, though, kiddos, because... damn, this is entertaining, and funny. Whether it's saving a potential suicide jumper from the top of a building or gunning down a psycho drug lord (who is really just a small player in a bigger scheme), these dudes are like oil and vinegar... and not in the Olive Garden sense. But it works. Very well.
And it works even better when Murtaugh and Riggs find themselves smack dab in the middle of the Hunsacker case, which has just gotten a lot bigger. Turns out that pulling the strings of the Heroin Trade in not just Los Angeles but practically the whole nasty country is a whole shadow conspiracy led by Mitch Ryan's General Peter McAllister (that's right, the Dad on Dharma & Greg) and his enforcer, the menacing Mr. Joshua (played with Ironic Sanity by Gary Busey), who might have a connection with Riggs in a previous life.
What follows are chases, explosions, torture scenes, martial arts battles, machine gun fights, glimpses of soft core porn, clouds of Chinese Rock and almost enough blood to fill up an Italian Horror Flick. And that, true believers, is a hell of a lot.
The truth is that this film is incredible, still to this day. This is a true case of "They don't make 'em like they used to!" Does it hold up against the best of the best? Absolutely. Is it the smartest movies ever made? Hell no. Though directed by Richard Donner (long live the man), this is a film that is intelligent enough to keep the educated amongst us from feeling like morons when the credits roll, but action packed enough to make hair grow in odd places.
The whole bang-bang shebang adds up to an incredibly satisfying ending that takes police paperwork and wipes its ass with it and gives us all kinds of rock and roll action and fun. What else would you expect from producers Richard Donner, Jennie Lew Tugend and Joel Silver (not to mention action veteran writer Shane Black). All that and a score by (and I'm not joking) Eric Clapton and Michael Kamen.
Bad cop, Bad cop... Great movie. This is where the action is. This is the official Cop Buddy Movie that exceeded all those that came before and taught all those that came after. To Lethal Weapon I proudly grant Four and One Half Stars out of Five. But then... I did just drink a whole bottle of Two Buck Chuck. So much for me. Any way you slice it, when it comes to Action and Adventure there are only two words that you need to know... Lethal... Weapon! Well, okay, Four Words... Die Hard has to be thrown in there too. Amigos Y Amigas, this is it. Enjoy and thrill to the ride. So until the ass kickin' bosses give us one last flick in the form of Lethal Weapon 5 (if Donner's not available, give the chair to James Ricardo)... I'll see your foot-printed ass in the next reel.
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