Well, at least Murtaugh figured it out.
It’s not everyday that you’re partnered with a psycho nut cop, but when he happens to be the best cop out there, well… you let things slide a little.
And Martin Riggs certainly was a psycho nut cop. (Let’s just say that jumping off a high-rise with a suicidal guy handcuffed to his wrist was among the more sane things he did in 1987’s always-awesome Lethal Weapon.)
Mel Gibson and Danny Glover took the whole ‘buddy cop’ idea and blew it out of the water. Sure, there were funny/cute moments in Lethal Weapon, but at its heart it was all about Riggs’ mentally-tormented soul (after the death of his beloved wife Victoria). Murtaugh just happened to be the guy who got stuck dealing with it. And we all got to sit in the theater and watch it unfold.
With a plot that included plummeting hookers, laced cocaine, and some of the more menacing bad guys of the 80s, Lethal Weapon was a powerhouse movie and one of the most compelling of our favorite decade. (Remember Gary Busey’s oh-so-creepy performance as Mr. Joshua? And watching his boss hold a lit cigarette lighter up to his arm? Ack!)
But it was Mel Gibson’s performance as Riggs that really set the movie apart… particularly this scene when he comes THIS close to blowing his brains out. And director Richard Donner’s decision to have Bugs Bunny’s Christmas Carol playing in the background? Brilliant.
Of course, we also had Riggs enduring that lovely bit of electro-shock torture, Murtaugh trying like hell to keep his family safe, and the heckuva-finale with the rainy night fight between Riggs and Joshua on Murtaugh’s front lawn.
Lethal Weapon did alright for itself when it hit theaters in March 1987, earning just over $65 million and finishing the year as the ninth biggest movie. And it, of course, launched a sequel (or two or three) that we’ll address in the near future.
It’s one of those movies (along with Die Hard) that shows how big-boy movies could actually have great characters and a smart script.
And as long as we live we’ll never be too old for that shit.
We ♥ Lethal Weapon.