Wednesday, May 26, 2010

“Now we question him. You know why we question him? Because I got him in the leg. I didn't shoot him full of holes or try to jump off a building with him.”

Remember how I was late to the Die Hard party? Same thing for Lethal Weapon, which is curious, because it involves director Richard Donner and writer Shane Black, both of whom have contributed to my considerable cinematic enjoyment over the last year. Let’s hope that hot streak continues with 1987’s Lethal Weapon, Director’s Cut.

So, it’s the holidays in LA, and a topless woman hopped up on cocaine falls to her death from an apartment building. MERRY CHRISTMAS! Turns out she was the daughter of a fairly influential army veteran who’s got a friend on the LAPD. That cop, a 20 year veteran who likes to play by the book happens to be assigned a new partner, a younger, suicidally reckless widower with a mullet. Together, they start investigating the death and discover that it might not have been a suicide after all. Can these two cops with opposite personalities learn how to become buddies? Well, yes, obviously. It’s a buddy cop movie.

Sergeant Martin Riggs: Mel Gibson is in full-on damaged goods mode as a cop on the edge with nothing to lose. Served in Vietnam, then joined the LAPD, he was a good cop until his wife died in a car accident a few years back. Now he lives in a trailer by the ocean with his dog and hires prostitutes to sit at home and watch The Three Stooges with him because he’s lonely. He’s also a gun-toting badass that’s been labeled a “Lethal Weapon” (DUN DUN DUN) by police psychologists.

Sergeant Roger Murtaugh: Danny Glover is a cop who’s a family man and 20 year veteran of the force and gets a new partner assigned to him on his 50th birthday. Guess who that is? Murtaugh is the voice of reason, by-the-book, slightly old fashioned half of the partnership. He also served in Vietnam.

Michael Hunsacker: Tom Atkins (who was the sheriff in the mostly lackluster My Bloody Valentine 3-D) is an old military buddy of Murtaugh’s. It’s also his daughter who fell out of the window at the beginning of the movie. He knows a bit more than he lets on.

General Peter McAllister: Mitchell Ryan is our Villain. The commander of a special forces unit called “Shadow Company” he decided to take his team rogue and go into cocaine smuggling business.

Mr. Joshua: Gary Busey is McAllister’s right hand henchman, and described as an albino (though not really). He’s, uh, got a pretty high pain tolerance. That’s about it as far as character development.

Richard Donner and cinematographer Stephen Goldblatt deliver an impressive looking action movie. Yes, its very much an 80s cop movie, but its got quite a few memorable sequences, particularly the early scenes of Riggs behaving insane in the tour of duty (like taking out a sniper with a handgun and taking the quick way down with a ledge jumper).

Shane Black on script duty, and things work great. It's got great character development for the leads. The villains are kind of…there but they are suitably hateable. There’s a lot of wit involved and you really get to like the characters.

Original music by Michael Kamen and Eric Clapton, so it's quite good. There’s also quite a few Christmas songs like “Jingle Bell Rock.”

Lethal Weapon is a legitimately good time. Nothing particularly earthshaking, but it’s an effective character-driven buddy cop action movie. On par with Die Hard.

No comments: