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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 44.07%
Average: 3.39%
Pretty Bad: 3.39%
Total Crap: 1.69%

2 reviews, 47 user ratings

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Lethal Weapon
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by EricDSnider

"Time has not been kind to it, but it's still big, dumb fun."
4 stars

“Lethal Weapon” is a big, dumb movie whose salvation is that its main characters are likeable.

It comes to us from 1987, when some of its many, many buddy-cop-action-flick cliches may have been fresher. Look at it now and see if it doesn’t sound like a parody: Two cops (one black, one white) are partnered against their will. One goes by the book, the other is a loose cannon. They uncover that most 1980s of plots, the drug-smuggling operation, and the bad guys -- who are pure evil -- turn it into something personal. Each cop saves the other’s life at least once, and then they are best friends.

If anything like this works, it works because the audience enjoys the interaction between the characters. Hollywood has proven time and again that the right -- i.e., wrong -- pairing of actors can lead to laughs; for more recent examples, see Owen Wilson and Jackie Chan in “Shanghai Noon,” or even, in small doses, Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker in “Rush Hour.”

The hook in “Lethal Weapon” is that Mel Gibson’s character, Martin Riggs, is suicidal over the death of his wife. Not caring whether he lives or dies, he can go a lot further in negotiations with bad guys. This element is never dealt with properly in the film, but a respectable attempt is made.

Danny Glover is perfectly lovable as Riggs’ partner, Roger Murtaugh, a buttoned-down family man who is “getting too old for this,” as he constantly reminds us.

Now, as for the movie’s bigness and dumbness, they are considerable. Take the final sequence, in which Riggs opts not to simply arrest the bad guy, but engage in a fistfight with him, with dozens of cops standing around watching. Evidently, someone decided the film had not had enough hand-to-hand combat at that point, so another fight was written in. It’s a great fight, sure, but hard to take it seriously when it occurs on such a shaky foundation.

Some of the dialogue is questionable, too, as when Riggs tells Murtaugh a joke: “What did one shepherd say to the other shepherd? Let’s get the flock out of here.” A dumb joke in any context, but particularly when they are in the midst of escaping from terrorists who moments earlier were torturing both of them. No doubt a screenwriter loved that joke and wanted to get it in the movie SOMEWHERE, even if it had to be in a place where no person in real life would ever say it.

But I am being curmudgeonly. “Lethal Weapon” is big, dumb fun, and often genuinely funny and exciting. It’s no sin to enjoy it. Just don’t ever think it’s anything more than big, dumb fun.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 05/31/02 07:49:02
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Trilogy Starters: For more in the Trilogy Starters series, click here.

User Comments

7/24/10 bagwell5 Gibson has become a jerk in real life, but is great as Riggs. One of my top 20 favorites. 5 stars
3/05/10 Robert Very good and funny! The second best in the series! 5 stars
8/29/09 Jeff Wilder Classic action. Great chemistry between Gibson and Glover. 5 stars
10/02/08 Shaun Wallner One of my favorite all time films. 5 stars
7/09/08 Farnsy Pretty original at the time and this cop film kicks ass 5 stars
12/22/07 Chris One of the best cop/action movies ever, Riggs and Murtaugh duo might be best ever 5 stars
6/11/07 al smith amazing the best buddy buddy film ever 5 stars
4/30/07 Quigley Surpisingly funny cop flick with great acting from Gibson and Glover. See it for them alone 4 stars
3/06/06 Anthony Feor We have just met the funniest detectives in the world 5 stars
5/27/05 tony great movie! Action movie lovers watch out because this is the best cop movie ever 4 stars
8/30/04 Captain Obvously... That's my name. Ex-militrary turned mercanaries... WOW! 5 stars
6/08/04 PAYNE Classic 5 stars
5/14/04 Agent Sands By now it's really riddled with clichés, but it's a classic. 4 stars
12/07/03 john it's as good as it gets! great stuff 5 stars
6/22/03 cochese It's Mel gibson, whaddya want? A classic in my eyes. 5 stars
5/20/03 mr. Pink Good actioner where at least they thought a bit about character. 4 stars
3/20/03 Jack Sommersby On of the finest actioners ever made. A bravura achievement. 5 stars
1/23/03 Pinkline Jones Gibson taking money under false pretences 1 stars
9/09/02 AshFan The humor of the other three are sorely missed, but it still rocks. 4 stars
8/23/02 Danielle Ophelia I'm too old for this shit...but by hell, I love it anyway. 4 stars
7/05/02 KMG It was then that I realized MEL GIBSON IS THE HOTTEST PIECE OF ASS THERE IS! 5 stars
5/31/02 Charles Tatum A cop buddy action pic?? Who cares? 2 stars
4/03/02 Butterbean Busey during his prime. 4 stars
3/19/02 Dave MacDougall Ranks up there as one of the best in the genre!! 5 stars
12/09/01 Mr. Hat (formerly Joe Zappa) This is one of the true classic action movies. Respect it or go to Hell! 4 stars
10/19/01 Andrew Carden The Sequels Are So Much Better Then This Piece Of Boring Stuff. 2 stars
8/19/01 Babybelle The best cop movie out there......crazy Riggs melts me !!!!! 5 stars
8/09/01 E-Funk Excellent film. Great performances by all and a wonderful directing job from Donner. 5 stars
5/30/01 R.W. Welch Before sequelitis set in these were two very watchable characters. 4 stars
5/14/01 fifu a tipical action movie not as good as the 234 3 stars
4/05/01 Hawkeye Gibson's great as a burnt-out guy on the ragged edge, and his chemistry with Glover works. 5 stars
3/08/01 Sanja good, just good movie 4 stars
12/07/00 Cristopher Revilla one of the best buddy films, see it!!!!! 5 stars
11/27/00 The Evil Penguin Second best out of the Trilogy 4 stars
8/11/00 Jason Kallelis Not bad, but not quite as good as 3 or 4 4 stars
6/28/00 Bruce Behind LW2 this is the best cop thriller of all time 5 stars
2/29/00 Jedi The Best Out Of The Four 5 stars
1/25/00 Christian Henriksson Fresh as mint, hard as steel! 5 stars
7/07/99 Ben Leostein Rating: *** (out of ****) Category: "Good" 4 stars
6/15/99 Dylan Fucking brilliant action movie. pure entertainment. 5 stars
6/12/99 Biscus Does what many action buddy movies can't 5 stars
11/25/98 Mr.Pink The best of the bunch, because it has the best acting and script 4 stars
11/23/98 Lord Of The Dunce This was a GD great cop flick. Shame it started such a landslide of drivel. 5 stars
10/28/98 Silent Rob It's been done to death by now, but this was THE perfected Buddy Flick! 5 stars
10/19/98 {{{OZ}}} Whether you like or despise action movies, this is one of the best there has been. 5 stars
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  02-Feb-1987 (R)


  02-Jul-1987 (M)

Directed by
  Richard Donner

Written by
  Shane Black

  Mel Gibson
  Danny Glover
  Gary Busey
  Mitch Ryan
  Tom Atkins
  Darlene Love

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