Veteran buttoned-down LAPD detective Roger Murtaugh is partnered with unhinged cop Martin Riggs, who -- distraught after his wife's death -- has a death wish and takes unnecessary risks with criminals at every turn. The odd couple embark on their first homicide investigation as partners, involving a young woman known to Murtaugh with ties to a drug and prostitution ring.
Close to retirement, Detective Sergeant Roger Murtaugh is a bit disturbed to find he's breaking in a new partner. Even more so when it turns out to be fellow Detective Martin Riggs, who since the death of his wife has scant regard for life, his own or those around him.
Light on plot and character development, Lethal Weapon none the less shines bright as a beacon of how a buddy buddy action film should be done. Roughly an hour and forty five minutes of quips, action, villainy, heroics and cross generational/cultural divides. All what else is needed is a star duo with buoyant chemistry - thankfully Richard Donner's movie has it by the clip load.
Mel Gibson is Riggs, a trigger happy suspected loony on the ragged edge, wonderfully playing off of Danny Glover's (superb) "too old for this nonsense" sage old copper. Riggs is a hard dude who quickly became a cinematic hero to many, an unstoppable force with a quip on the tongue and a glint in his eye, to which Gibson is terrific and perfectly cast.
Gary Busey's "psycho's are us" henchman flits in and out the picture with gleeful nastiness and Shane Black's script crackles as the super stunt work starts to take a hold. Chief villain Mitchell Ryan as The General is almost a bystander though, and there's the odd piece of careless editing, but really Lethal Weapon has a winning formula that the box office punters promptly lapped up.
Three sequels, all of which are of differing quality, would follow it, but this is a template movie for the genre and worthy of nostalgic revisits any time of day. 8/10
One of the best action movies of all-time in my book, and right there with Die Hard, Lethal Weapon still holds up so well thanks to the chemistry between Mel Gibson and Danny Glover. Even with the over-the-top staged fight scene at the end, this is just an all around entertaining flick.
(Reason I decided to watch it again today was saw it was on A&E and rather than watch a crappy edited version, why not watch the real deal in 1080p HD?)