Lethal Weapon - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Lethal Weapon Reviews

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December 17, 2016
Classic action film that set a new standard for the buddy cop genre, thanks to a superb cast & filmmakers willing to go a little dark with the content. Gibson & Glover are excellent as Riggs & Murtaugh, playing off each other perfectly & giving career best performances. Gibson channels his crazed intensity to perfection while Glover is a fantastic straight man, giving brilliant reactions to every one of Riggs nuttier moments (his "I'm too old for this shit" line remains a classic). They get great support from the rest of the cast, particularly Gary Busy as the villainous Mr. Joshua. Behind the camera, Richard Donner adapts Shane Black's script perfectly and one forgets, after the numerous sequels & current TV show, how dark & edgy the original is. Riggs is a truly disturbed, suicidal man and you truly don't know what will happen next with him, making his tension with Murtaugh palpable. The action is edge of your seat and Black's dialogue is as good as you can get in action movie. All that plus being set during Christmas, it makes for one of the best action movies ever made and another great addition to the holiday movie rotation.
½ December 11, 2016
LAPD Homicide Sergeant Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover), shortly after his 50th birthday, is partnered with Sergeant Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson), a transfer from narcotics. Riggs is a former Special Forces soldier who lost his wife in a car accident two years prior, has turned suicidal, and has been taking his aggression out on suspects, leading to his superiors requesting his transfer. Murtaugh and Riggs quickly find themselves feuding with each other. Murtaugh is contacted by Michael Hunsaker (Tom Atkins), an old Vietnam War buddy turned banker, but before they can meet, Murtaugh learns that Hunsaker's daughter, Amanda, apparently committed suicide by jumping to her death from her apartment balcony. Autopsy reports show Amanda to have been poisoned with drain cleaner, making the case a possible homicide. Hunsaker tells Murtaugh that he was concerned about his daughter's involvement in drugs, prostitution, and pornography, and was trying to get Murtaugh to help her escape that life. Murtaugh and Riggs go to see Amanda's pimp, but find a drug lab on the premises, leading to a shootout. Riggs kills the pimp and saves Murtaugh's life, who starts to tolerate his new partner. Though the case seems closed, Riggs is aware that the only witness to Amanda's apparent suicide was Dixie, another prostitute who was working away from her normal streets. They go to see her at her home, but it explodes as they approach it. Riggs finds parts of a mercury switch from bomb debris, indicating a professional had set the bomb; children who had been nearby witnessed a man approach the house with a tattoo similar to Riggs', and Murtaugh suspects Hunsaker knows more than he has told him. The two approach Hunsaker before Amanda's funeral, where he reveals that he had previously been part of "Shadow Company," a heroin-smuggling operation run by former special forces operators from the Vietnam War, masterminded by retired General Peter McAllister (Mitchell Ryan) and his right-hand man, Mr. Joshua (Gary Busey). Hunsaker had been laundering the money, but wanted to get out, and when McAllister found out he'd contacted Murtaugh, the general had Amanda killed. As they talk, Joshua arrives in a helicopter and kills Hunsaker. Shadow Company attempts to kill Riggs in a drive-by shooting, but he is saved by a bullet-proof vest. Murtaugh and Riggs fake his death to gain the upper hand against McAllister...

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.
December 7, 2016
Is it chock full of 80's cheese? You betchya. Is it really well written and damn entertaining? You betchya.
November 28, 2016
Great film. Love these films. Ain't seen for years, look Forward to seeing 2,3 and 4
November 27, 2016
Classic! Followed by 3 theatrical sequels and a TV series reboot. On Blu-ray.
November 23, 2016
Easily one of the finest American action films of the '80s. However, this film has a lot more going for it than one may think. Firstly, the phenomenal chemistry between Gibson and Glover, which is helped by a great deal of improvisation friendly direction from the great Richard Donner. All while sporting, possibly, the best performance of Mel Gibson's career.

If, somehow, none of that interests you; Shane Black's script is a masterpiece, and the action is spectacular.
½ November 19, 2016
It's good but I never liked the final 30 minutes. The sequel is better. Pretend they solved the murder with the shootout at the pimps house then move on to the next film.
½ November 13, 2016
161113: How times have changed. Lethal Weapon is still a good film but suffers from a few dated qualities. From Riggs' hair to his question of Murtaugh "What are you, a fag?" this film is showing its age. I always had a bit of trouble with Mel Gibson's portrayal of someone allegedly suffering from mental health issues. He came across as unconvincing to me. This time around, I'm feeling it a bit more. "Hate him back, it works for me" is a response I'm familiar with. Gary Busey's contribution as the villain Joshua cannot be understated. He completes this film.
November 7, 2016
One of the first cop movies to mix the whole concept of action and adventure with comedy, it more or less help shape and define how cop movies would be remembered and portrayed for years, possibly even to this day. The original owes its success to the strong presence and acting of its two main leads, Mel Gibson and Danny Glover. Without these men I doubt the franchise would have gotten very far, at least not three sequels and a TV show reboot far. And while it is not the strongest of the series, that would be the second one, it still feels like a must watch for people wanting to get into the business of making action movies.
October 19, 2016
What a movie. We're do I even start? The characters are lovable, the acting is some of the best. I think it shares first place with die hard for the best Christmas action movies of all time!
October 17, 2016
10/17/16 - This truly is a dynamic duo! Action at its finest! God please bring back the good old days! Help us move forward to better days! Heal this broken land of the United States of America and bring us back to you in Jesus Christ name!
October 12, 2016
The best installment in the franchise. A neat action/thriller flick with a great cast-member team up.
October 9, 2016
It's a classic '80s action movie in every sense.

Grade: A
½ October 2, 2016
An action classic that kicked off the movie series that defined the "buddy cop" genre
September 25, 2016
Mel Gibson and Danny make for a damn good team in this '80s action classic. With its heavy (and heady) saxophone soundtrack and handheld-stylized camerawork, Lethal Weapon stands tall as a tribute to its time and the late-great stuntman Dar Robinson. It should be no surprise that Mel Gibson broke out big with the two-hand punch of Mad Max and Lethal Weapon; here, he again plays a police officer struggling with a deep personal loss, but this time with a charm and swagger that explodes onscreen.
½ September 25, 2016
This is an example of marketing making a film iconic when it doesn't deserve it's status. There were loads of similar films with cliche detectives all through the 70's and 80's which fell between the cracks because it didn't have mad max in them. At the time this was released, he was still popular and was able to sell this rubbish to the masses very easily.
September 14, 2016
"I'm too old for this shit..." No, Mr Glover: you're never too old for this and it certainly isn't shit. "Riggs!"
½ September 10, 2016
The apex of the buddy cop comedy action thriller. It is such an influential movie to the action genre that I recommend everyone see it.
September 10, 2016
One of the best action movies ever made, which redifines, not only the buddy cop genre, but the buddy film genre itself. Directed by Richard Donner, it stars good old Danny Glover and Mel gibson, who make a great duo. Even part of the good musical score itself, was done by legend Eric Clapton. Well it's not a comedy movie, there is a bit of humor in this film. A good action movie. Recommended !!
September 8, 2016
Favorite Mel Gibson movie, action packed and funny and entertaining!
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