Lethal Weapon Reviews
Variety wrote, "Lethal Weapon is a film teetering on the brink of absurdity when it gets serious, but thanks to its unrelenting energy and insistent drive, it never quite falls." Richard Schickel of Time called it "Mad Max meets The Cosby Show", saying that it works better than expected. Richard Harrington of The Washington Post described it as "a vivid, visceral reminder of just how exciting an action film can be". At The New York Times, Janet Maslin wrote, "The film is all fast action, noisy stunts and huge, often unflattering close-ups, but it packs an undeniable wallop." Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film four out of four stars, saying Donner "tops himself".
"Lethal Weapon" is one of those classic buddy buddy cop movies we have seen in so many versions I canīt even count them, but in this case everything falls in place and works really well due to solid direction from Richard Donner and great cinematography from Stephen Goldblatt, excellent casting of Glover and Gibson (plus the great chemistry between them), Gary Buseyīs bad guy Mr. Joshua and an intense and good action script even itīs not that much new under the sun if you dissect it. Thereīs plenty of great scenes between Gibson and Glover and having finally watched the "Directorīs Cut" version I reckon the added scenes are of value to the film in my opinion to get more flesh on the bone concerning Riggs state of mind. The action and violence is up and close, but I reckon it fits the film and structure. The dialogue has several gems as well and you canīt help but love how intense Gibson are in certain scenes. "Lethal Weapon" is a great action flick that stands the test of time. It still holds up in 2016.
Trivia: An alternate opening and ending were both filmed (and are available on the Lethal Weapon 4 (1998) DVD). The alternate opening featured Martin Riggs drinking alone in a bar where he is accosted by a couple of thugs who want his money. Riggs claims all of his is in the bank and tells the thugs "not to fuck with him." The thugs attack him, but Riggs easily subdues them. He is then allowed to take a free bottle of booze from the bar in exchange for never returning. Director Richard Donner felt the movie should open with a brighter look at Riggs and filmed the scene with Riggs awakening in his trailer to replace it. The alternate ending featured Riggs and Murtaugh saying good-bye to one another. Murtaugh tells Riggs he's thinking of retiring, but Riggs tells him not to.
In addition to the film's theatrical release, an extended Director's Cut version was released later on DVD. The Director's Cut version is longer (117 minutes) than the original theatrical release version (110 minutes), and features additional scenes. One extended scene depicts Riggs dispatching a sniper who had been firing at children in a playground. In another scene, Riggs picks up a street-walking prostitute, but instead of having sex with her, he takes her home to watch The Three Stooges on TV, thus illustrating his loneliness following the death of his wife.
Legendary stuntman Dar Robinson was killed in a motorcycle accident shortly after principal photography was finished. Director Richard Donner dedicated the film to him.
Shane Black's first draft of Lethal Weapon (1987) which he wrote sometime in 1985 was very different, not just from his later drafts but also from the final movie. This first draft was 141 pages long and it was much darker, it had alternate plot parts, character scenes, action sequences and many other differences, like entire ending which had big chase scene including helicopters and a trailer truck full of cocaine which explodes over Hollywood Hills causing for cocaine to start snowing over Hollywood sign. Riggs was also much different character in this first draft than he is in the movie. Black at first thought that this draft (which was one of his first scripts) sucks so he threw it in the garbage but later changed his mind and re-worked it into the new drafts. For the longest time, Black was the only one who had copy of his first draft until he sold it on auction. This draft still remains some of his most wanted work amongst fans.
The fight scene between Riggs and Joshua in the ending was originally four minutes longer, but was cut down for pacing. This explains some continuity mistakes in the final version of the scene.
If, somehow, none of that interests you; Shane Black's script is a masterpiece, and the action is spectacular.