My only real connection to this series is when I rented Lethal Weapon 3 for a birthday sleep over in middle school. I remembered the duo of Danny Glover and Mel Gibson being much funnier and cooler than what was in this first film.
Glover and Gibson seem to look the same age in this film but it’s suggested Gibson is a young reckless suicidal wildcard on the force. He lost his wife and he’s been a wreck ever since. I really feel like most of the movie is pretty forgettable. However the climax of this film is not one I will soon forget.
The film comes to its climax at the end of the movie when everyone follows the main villain to Glover’s home. He’s going to kill his whole family and Gibson and Glover were the first on the scene. And what’s that? They stop him immediately!! Good job! But then Gibson decides he needs to fight the villain in a bare knuckle fight to….um, what? While they fight the rest of the police force are standing around watching. Even if this guy beats Gibson he’s still going to jail. WHY ARE WE WATCHING THESE PEOPLE FIGHT??? What’s at risk?
I’m already confusing this movie with 48 Hours in my head so I don’t think it was a favorite.
I wanted to see two bad-ass buddy cops take down bad guys while making charming quips here and there. We watched Lethal Weapon and instead I saw a psychopath be a bad cop and a girl almost get raped.
Mel Gibson is a problem. I grew up loving him; even though he tended to be in movies too adult for me he always seemed so charming, nice, and oh so cute. I inherited my love for Mel Gibson from my mom and then cemented it myself when he played the father of my own love, Heath Ledger, in The Patriot. He wasn’t the young heartthrob in that movie, but he played the I-Just-Want-What’s-Best-For-You Dad to one, which was close enough. When I got a little older I was finally able to watch Braveheart. When I saw that I felt like I truly “got” what everyone loved about him. The performance . . . the ass . . . everything was just so great. Things started to crack a little about a year after The Patriot came out and I read that Heath Ledger had been so excited to work with Mel Gibson and then had been so disappointed by actually working with him. After reading that, I figured maybe Gibson wasn’t exactly as I had imagined – at the very least he sounded like such an intense actor to work with that he often was just mean. But I mean, that happens, right? Actors are intense, we don’t all personally know actors, etc. Then the recordings of his drunken, hateful rants came out in 2010 and I felt duped. It seemed to prove that he wasn’t an intense actor at all, just an enraged, racist, sexist, mean asshole.
So now when I watch a movie like Lethal Weapon where Mel Gibson plays Martin Riggs, a completely unhinged wildcard cop needing a stable partner, it’s hard to feel impressed by much of Gibson’s acting. His rage is quivering and unfiltered and supported by his mediocre performance whenever he’s not a psychopath. And he’s supposed to be a cop? It was so stressful watching someone who is clearly supposed to be a good guy act like a bad guy. The best part about him was his dog that I think was only in one scene. The only time I felt an emotion for him other than disgust was when we wept over his inability to kill himself after crying over his dead wife. Extremely sad, but inevitably a completely unearned emotion.
Then we have Danny Glover as Roger Murtaugh. Murtaugh is a good, level-headed cop with a good track record. He’s a perfect dad. He’s a perfect husband. He has a cute cat named BURBANK. He’s good looking, charming, and nice – for real. So of course he’s going to get paired up with Riggs and Riggs is going to fuck everything up. I was constantly waiting for Murtaugh’s perfect family to be in danger until it finally happened. His teenager daughter, Rianne, is kidnapped and the note left behind for Murtaugh says “Your daughter looks pretty naked,” with an unseen-by-us Polaroid. This was a minor detail in a major plot point but it completely distracted me. What was in that picture? Just a naked Rianne, which would be horrible enough? Or was she being raped, which is more in-line with the viciousness of the bad guys Riggs and Murtaugh are dealing with? I stressed out over that for probably a solid 5 minutes that I should have been watching the movie. Part of me was scared for the Rianne character and part of me was scared for what I may yet see. The next time we see Rianne, she’s being held by her captives but is fully-clothed. She really doesn’t look like she’s in bad shape at all. So I thought, despite that Polaroid, it’s not going to get any worse. Then Riggs and Murtaugh later break in to where Rianne is being held. When they find her, she’s in silk underwear and is a little bruised up. After beating Murtaugh, one of the bad guys remarks how attractive Rianne is as her hands are bound above her head. He either flicks one of her camisole straps down her shoulder OR my mind was racing so much with anxiety that I imagined it. I truly don’t know. That’s essentially as bad as it got – we never saw Rianne get assaulted or raped. But the prospect of it was right there – this teenage girl getting kidnapped and then raped in front of her bound father was so fucking stressful for me I literally couldn’t pay attention to other parts of the movie. When it didn’t happen, it was a relief. But I felt tricked – Lethal Weapon couldn’t make a tense, suspenseful movie without threatening to rape a kid?
I haven’t even touched on the weirdest and worst part. Gary Busey is in this, too, presumably before he was a walking joke. He’s a henchman named Joshua who, because he’s so crazy and unstoppable, eventually becomes the main bad guy. Toward the end of the movie Riggs and Murtaugh have chased him to Murtaugh’s house for a final showdown. What you think will happen is that one of them will kill Joshua right away, fight and then kill Joshua, or fight and then arrest Joshua. What instead happens is Murtaugh “lets” Riggs “have him.” Riggs and Joshua start fighting in the rain and as more and more cops show up, Murtaugh keeps them away from the fight, telling them that he (Murtaugh) will somehow “take the blame” for whatever is happening and is about to happen. Apparently this message gets through to every cop there, including those in a helicopter, because they all stand around patiently and wait for the fight to end. What the fuck? Why would we want to see Riggs and Murtaugh act like the bad guys they’ve been fighting for hours instead of like the good cops we’ve been convinced that they are? What is Murtaugh even offering to take the blame for? And why the fuck are there so many Lethal Weapon sequels starring Danny Glover and Mel Gibson if Murtaugh did take blame for whatever happened?