The lethal weapon films are a buddy cop classic. The best in the genre with plenty of action, comedy, friendship and family. A favourite of mine that feels like catching up with some old friends each time I watch them.
Directed by: Richard Donner
Starring: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Joe Pesci, Rene Russo
Lethal weapon is a buddy cop genre film with the iconic Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh. An unlikely duo that always saves the day and have some laughs along the way. Initially the pair are teamed up when a Detective who’s on the edge and battling suicidal thoughts is partnered up with a veteran on the force who’s by the book and does everything possible to be a great cop. The mismatched pair are constantly butting heads and the banter between the pair instantly jumps off the screen.
Over the course of the 4 films the pair take on a variety of bad guys varying from those with diplomatic immunity abusing their powers to the yakuza and crooked Detectives. The pair go through family members being kidnapped and attacked to exploding toilets and Leo Getz in the mix. The Lethal Weapon films deal with family, love and loss each time we catch up with the pair. There’s a true sense of friendship as a through line of the films, these two men are constantly bickering, fighting and taking comedic jabs at each other yet they’re the first one to step up and if necessary take a bullet for the other.
Once Riggs and Murtaugh become partners they instantly become one of the most enjoyable duo’s to ever grace the screen. The pair are constantly at each other whether it’s Murtaugh getting Riggs to smoke less and have some dog biscuits instead or it’s Riggs pushing and pushing Murtaugh on a daily basis together and getting them into crazy situation after crazy situation. Riggs gets Murtaugh mixed up in gun fights, has him chicken dance in his love heart underwear to distract a robocop style, flame thrower toting gunman. Riggs has Murtaugh along for the ride whether he’s cutting the red or blue wire on a car bomb, jumping off buildings with suspects cuffed to him or rescuing him from toilet bombings.
The music the music the music it’s so iconic. The 80’s style to it and the guitar and saxophone to it. The involvement of Eric Clapton for the original soundtrack is perfect. The use of the music through the films is so flawlessly used and embodies the entire genre. There never will be a more iconic buddy cop duo and they sure as shit won’t have music that’s so recognisable. The music is used excellently for the comedic moments and for the more touching and intimate moments between the characters.
At its core lethal weapon is about a man who’s tethering on the edge. Rigg’s since the loss of his wife Miranda in a car crash is dealing with suicidal thoughts and doing his job is the only thing that keeps him going. While Rigg’s is flawed, he drinks too much he smokes too much and he takes dangerous and unnecessary risks on the job. He’s a man that transforms over the course of the films thanks to the help of Roger Murtaugh and his wife Trish and their children. He eats meals with them, washed clothes there and slots in as a member of the family in no time. When we first meet Rigg’s he’s waking up completely naked after a rough night’s drinking, he’s in a bad place just barely holding his life together. When we last see riggs in the 4th film he’s surrounded by friends and family who are there to support him and his newly wed wife Lorna as they bring their newborn baby into the world. The way Rigg’s grows and changes as a character is so satisfying to see, at the heart of it he was never a bad man just someone who was handling heartbreak in a negative way. You’re always rooting for Rigg’s because even at his worst he’s still a loveable fuck up and great at his job, despite the collateral damage.
Roger Murtaugh when we first meet Roger he’s getting ready to retire and he’s feeling “too old for this shit“. One of the best damn catchphrases in any action movie. Murtaugh is a family man, war hero and veteran Detective who’s about to retire shortly when Martin Rigg’s is introduced into his life. Murtaugh thinks Rigg’s is a crazy son of a bitch and he’s not wrong but the bond he soon shares with Rigg’s becomes unbreakable. Murtaugh isn’t afraid to get into a fight when Rigg’s usually initiates one and he’s a perfect straight man to Rigg’s crazy. Soon the pair are bickering back and fourth, talking over each other and an unstoppable force. The pair usually begin shouting and bickering over each other right up until they get guns on the bad guys, disarm them or kick their ass.
When Leo Getz is involved in the second installment is when the comedy really ramps up. The pair love teaming up and ripping into Leo in hilarious scenes and are ruthless with how they fuck with Leo. With Leo’s rants about how they fuck you at the drive thru and how the phone companies fuck you right down to Leo’s frantic and chaotic energy throughout. Leo is a great addition to the Lethal weapon family and improves in each installment. Leo really feels like a member of the family, not always listened to but he’s like that dopey uncle who’s the butt of the joke but it’s always made with love well usually it is anyway. I love when Leo’s on the screen and Pesci plays him perfectly he’s hilarious and so enjoyable to watch.
When Internal affairs investigator Lorna Cole gets involved in Lethal Weapon 3 she initially clashes with Rigg’s and Murtaugh. There’s chemistry and a spark between her and Rigg’s from their first interaction. The pair eventually date, get married and have a child together. Lorna is a great addition to the franchise she adds to the comedy and kicks some serious ass. They work together well as a team in the third film which is one of my favourites of the 4 Films. Lorna kicks so much ass in these films I mean she successfully takes on 5 guys at the same time and she’s kicking, sweeping the leg and messing these dudes up without hardly breaking a sweat as Rigg’s cheers her on and him and Murtaugh watch in amazement.
Really it’s the commeraderie between the two that I love. When Murtaugh has his toilet rigged to explode by the bad guys and Rigg’s comes to the rescue. Rigg’s stays by his side, he’s ready to pull him from his seated position into the tub they’ve rigged with body armour to shield them. Rigg’s risks his life to comfort, help and insult and share a laugh with his partner.
Again when the pair gets involved with explosives in the opening of Lethal Weapon 3. There’s a car bomb in the car park, Murtaugh is 8 days from retirement. The pair banter and squabble the entire time and manage to argue and swap which colour wire they’re going to cut. Eventually the biggest goddamn explosion goes off, the building is rubbel, they’ve saved the cat and bomb squad just roll up shortly after. I love seeing Rigg’s and Murtaugh right slap bam in the middle of the chaos and carnage going on. It’s where they belong.
I’m not sure exactly what it is about these films. Maybe the reasons I listed above but it feels like they’ve captured something with these 4 films. There’s an authenticity to the whole world they’ve created here. The situations and events that happen are over the top and insane at times but it still feels like it’s grounded. It feels like there’s risks, if feels like there’s stakes at risk for our buddies Rigg’s and Murtaugh. We care for these guys. We want them to win. We want them to beat the bad guys, cracking some one liners along the way too just for good measure.
I don’t care how old and sometimes corny these films are I love em and there’s not goanna be any talking me out of that much anyway.
There’s a connection you feel with the pair. You want to be a part of the precinct and get wrapped up in their cases and you want to hand out with Rigg’s and Murtaugh on his boat. Go fishing with them and hope that Leo doesn’t catch another shark this time but mostly you want to see these guys have fun along the way and crack whatever case they’re in the middle of. You want to try a dog biscuit every now and then just to see what they’re like (actually not that bad, but I’ll leave them for Charlie he prefers them over me honestly). Yet have I to see another pair so perfectly thrown together and grow as friends and become brothers.
I sit down and watch these guys several times a year. I watch and fall in love with the franchise all over again each time I see them in action. Honestly it’s the small scenes and the beats in between the action that matter the most and are my favourite. It’s the smaller intimate moments and conversations that make you fall in love with these characters. It makes them more than action heroes, more than cops and war veterans. It makes them part of the family, a crazy and unstoppable part if the family but who doesn’t relate to that on some level or other.
These films are such a great escape into a fun world of cops, comedy and family. What’s not to love about that??