Lethal Weapon remains one of the definitive buddy cop thrillers. It also helped define an aesthetic to the 1980s/90s action hero adventure genre. Written by a young Shane Black (who went onto direct IRON MAN 3 years later), the movie is a perfect example of his genius for fusing tones (the comedic and the ‘gritty’), without losing coherence. You feel a genuine sense of threat and hurt when the villains strike, but it is balanced with a pace and innovation in the dialogue beats.
This was almost a decade pre Tarantino yet exhibits the same gift for somehow reinventing tired tropes of pulp fiction via organic and real character details. Three sequels followed and the violence softened a bit, inevitably. But the magic was always back. And so it is today that, 30 years on, a television series by the same name is now doing rather nicely and unexpectedly harnesses similar charm to its cinematic source material. But you can never truly beat the original.
Don’t believe me? Fine. Here is an excellent potted summary from DANIEL BRENNAN. He’s the only critic here registered as a LETHAL WEAPON…
March 2017 marks the 30th Anniversary of Lethal Weapon. Released on March 6, 1987: the movie practically invented the buddy cop genre which has since been copied to death but never equaled. Written by a 20 year old Shane Black, he would introduce us to two of films great police detectives Martin Riggs and Roger Murtagh.
Mel Gibson was less well known at the time but coming hot of the heals of Mad Max. Danny Glover was coming from such films as The Colour Purple and Witness. And they would both become household names after this film. Directed by Richard Donner who was on a major role after directing The Omen, Superman and The Goonies, this film would further cement his reputation as being one of the great action directors.
Beautifully photographed by Stephen Goldblatt, edited by supreme 80s action editor Stuart Baird. Accompanied with an excellent jazzy score by Michael Kamen with a little help from legends Eric Clapton and David Sanborn: L.A. has never looked cooler. You also had a really terrific villain in the shape of the legendary Gary Busey.
Lethal Weapon would become one of the most successful franchises ever and would lead to Shane Black becoming the highest paid writer in Hollywood with scripts for e would eventually show his chops as a director with films like Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang and The Nice Guys.
But it all started with Lethal Weapon. Hopefully it will get a theatrical re-release to mark this special anniversary.
Daniel Brennan is a supreme movie buff and his potted film reviews are much beloved on social media. He’s a great ambassador for the love of movies and we are honored that he let us share his work. Just in time to for that important upcoming festival: Shona Lá Fhéile Pádraig