10 Harsh Realities Of Rewatching Lethal Weapon, 37 Years Later


  • Lethal Weapon, a classic action film, has flaws that become more apparent upon rewatch.
  • The film’s widespread influence makes it seem unoriginal today, and Mel Gibson’s performance is over-the-top.
  • The film has plot holes, unprofessional and problematic character actions, an irritating soundtrack, and a monotonous villain.

This article contains mentions of suicide and homophobia.

Lethal weapon is a masterpiece of the “buddy cop” genre, but from plot holes to over-the-top acting and problematic humor, there are some parts of the film that stand out when rewatching it today. When it was first released in 1987, Lethal weapon It was well received by critics and became a huge box office hit. In fact, it was so successful that it spawned a franchise consisting of three additional films and a television show.

There has been a fifth Lethal weapon The movie has been in development for a while now. Hopefully, this legacy sequel will eventually get made, but in the meantime, the original movies will always be there to rewatch. There’s a lot to enjoy in a new version of Lethal weapon Today, the on-screen chemistry between Mel Gibson and Danny Glover remains just as sharp, but there are also plenty of flaws that stand out in the cold light of 2024.

10 Almost everything in Lethal Weapon has become a cliché

Danny Glover and Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon (1987)

When Lethal weapon When it hit theaters, the “buddy cop” genre was just beginning to establish itself. Street dog and Freebie and the bean had introduced the concept and 48 hours., Running scaredand Beverly Hills Police I had begun to fill in the tropes. Shane Black Lethal weapon The script continued to define the genre with its story of disparate police partners who gradually overcome their cultural and behavioral differences to become best friends over the course of an investigation.

Although it was revolutionary in its time, almost everything in Lethal weapon It has since become a cliché. From the pairing of a stern, strict detective with a reckless maverick cop to the now personal twist where Murtaugh’s daughter is kidnapped, Lethal weapon It has been copied so many times that it seems unoriginal today. It is a classic example of a film whose widespread influence overshadows the film itself.

9. Mel Gibson’s acting is really over the top

Riggs with wide eyes in Lethal Weapon

Black’s script features one of the most well-rounded action movie protagonists ever written, with far more dramatic depth to explore than the average invulnerable action hero played by Stallone or Schwarzenegger at the time. Martin Riggs is the archetype of the unpredictable cop who doesn’t play by the rules, but is also shown to suffer from severe mental health issues. He is deeply depressed following the death of his wife and is seen contemplating suicide early in the film.

But Mel Gibson’s performance is too over-the-top for those emotions to come across. Riggs’s madness was inspired by Gibson’s love of The Three Stooges. This colored Gibson’s take on the character with far more silliness and absurdity than the script called for. He plays a suicidal cop in the style of the antics of Moe, Larry and Curly, and it doesn’t really work.

8. Lethal Weapon has some plot holes that stand out upon rewatching

Michael Hunsaker shows concern in Lethal Weapon

One of the hardest realities of rewatching any movie is noticing plot holes, contrivances, and plots that make no sense. Lethal weapon It’s not exactly riddled with plot holes (the plot, on the whole, holds up to scrutiny), but it does have a handful of inconsistencies that stick out if you rewatch it today. For example, early in the film, Michael Hunsaker begs Murtaugh to find the people who killed his daughter. But when Murtaugh presses Hunsaker for details about the killers, he clams up and refuses to talk about them.

The boy who saw the bomber at Dixie’s house claims he was hiding under the porch. But when the film cuts to the house before it explodes, there is no porch. And why did the bad guys kill Dixie? Her killers have no reason to believe she is a police suspect, and killing her will only draw more unwanted police attention. These refrigerator logic problems are highlighted by rewatching the film.

7. Roger Murtaugh wasn’t that old in the first Lethal Weapon movie

Danny Glover at the police station in Lethal Weapon

Roger Murtaugh’s iconic quote says: “I’m too old for this shit.“When Riggs puts him in a dangerous situation where he has to run from the bad guys or take cover from gunfire, Murtaugh pulls out this old trick. In the first Lethal weapon film, it is established that Murtaugh is on the verge of retirement, another Lethal weapon plot point that would become an overused cliché: because he thinks he’s getting too old for gunfights and foot chases.

Murtaugh was supposedly “Too old for this shit” from the beginning of a four-film franchise that spanned a decade. Rewatching the original film today, it becomes apparent that Murtaugh wasn’t actually that old when he coined his catchphrase. He turns 50 at the start of the film and Danny Glover was 40 at the time of filming – that’s not that old.

6. Much of Lethal Weapon’s humor hasn’t aged well

Rianne watches Riggs in Lethal Weapon

Like most comedies of the 1980s, much of the humor in Lethal weapon It hasn’t aged well. It hasn’t aged as horribly as Porky’s either Revenge of the Nerdswhich in the current climate seems more like a horror movie than a comedy, but there are plenty of jokes in Lethal weapon That simply would not be acceptable today. Despite being a love story between two men, Lethal weapon It gives in to the gay panic of the 80s. Riggs calls Murtaugh a homophobic slur as soon as his hands get near him.

When Riggs begins hanging out with Murtaugh’s family, Murtaugh worries that Riggs will seduce his teenage daughter, Rianne. This became a running gag that would persist throughout the series and is problematic for two reasons. Murtaugh is the problematic overbearing father who controls his daughter’s sexuality and Riggs is the problematic middle-aged man who flirts with a teenage girl.

5. Riggs and Murtaugh are actually very bad cops

Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon

Like many protagonists of 1980s crime thrillers, Riggs and Murtaugh are unprofessional cops. Lethal weapon In the movie, they brandish their guns everywhere (even in a police station packed with cops), rarely bother to identify themselves as police officers, and shoot first and ask questions later. The joke is that Murtaugh is a good cop and Riggs is a bad cop, but the reality is that they’re both bad cops.

In the climactic sequence, rather than arrest the villain and let the justice system decide his fate, Murtaugh hands him over to Riggs to face off to the death in his backyard. And all of his colleagues on the police force stand by and watch as Riggs beats his attacker to death. Riggs and Murtaugh’s antics are a disciplinary hearing waiting to happen.

4. The incessant saxophone on the soundtrack gets annoying after a while

Murtaugh looking at Riggs in Lethal Weapon 1987

Director Richard Donner filled the soundtrack with Lethal weapon with jazzy saxophone orchestrations. This did a great job of establishing Lethal weapon As a modern noir, it brings the melancholic cinematic atmosphere and complicated police characters of classic noir films into a contemporary setting. But the saxophone music is so dominant that after a while, it becomes irritating and hard to ignore.

This is one of the many aspects of the Lethal weapon franchise that It’s always sunny in Philadelphia absolutely nailed his parody of the series. Throughout the entire Mac and Dennis show Lethal Weapon 5 and Lethal Weapon 6A saxophone can be heard playing at full volume on the soundtrack. It’s a bit over the top in the Always sunny version, but it’s pretty close to how irritating and over-the-top the saxophone score is in the actual films.

3 Lethal Weapon is much darker than people remember

Riggs with a gun in his mouth in Lethal Weapon

It’s easy to look back Lethal weapon as a fun, light-hearted action comedy with plenty of banter between its lead actors and plenty of explosions without fatal consequences. But Lethal weapon It’s a lot darker than people remember. In one of the first scenes, Riggs is sitting in his lonely trailer in the middle of nowhere, gun in hand, contemplating taking his own life.

He Lethal weapon The sequels would be much lighter than the original. They brought in Joe Pesci as Leo Getz for additional comic relief, and then they brought in Chris Rock as Lee Butters for even more comic relief. Lethal Weapon 3 and Lethal Weapon 4 After the franchise premiered, the dark exploration of Riggs’ mental health seen in the first film was completely removed, so it can be jarring to rewatch it. Lethal weapon and look how dark it got.

2 Mr. Joshua is a totally monotonous villain

Gary Busey as Mr. Joshua in Lethal Weapon

80s action cinema is full of unforgettable villains. Hard to KillHans Gruber is a cold, calculating sociopath; he’s charming, eerily calm, and disturbingly sinister when he wants to be. First bloodSheriff Will Teasle portrays himself as the hero in his own mind. Bounty hunterRoy Batty is an artificial being who fears his imminent death, does everything he can to prolong his life, and accepts his grim fate with grace. These are all three-dimensional, well-developed characters.

The main villain of Lethal weaponOn the other hand, Joshua is a monotonous psychopath who likes to hurt people. Joshua is certainly a memorable character and a powerful presence on screen, thanks to Gary Busey’s typically manic and captivating performance. But this character has no depth beyond his sadistic streak and seemingly limitless capacity for violence.

1 Lethal Weapon takes a while to set up its main conflict

Danny Glover and Mel Gibson chase a criminal in Lethal Weapon

As the average viewer’s attention span is getting shorter, movies are getting faster and faster. There are many more cuts than before, and movies get to the incident that triggers the plot much sooner. As a result, it can be jarring to rewatch an old movie like this. Lawrence of Arabia either The best years of our livesthat have a patient rhythm and take a long time to get going.

It takes a surprisingly long time to Lethal weapon To bring Riggs and Murtaugh together and set up the main conflict of the story. If it had been made today, all of that would have been set up at breakneck speed in the first 10 minutes. But the film takes its time setting up its plot, and that’s pretty noticeable if you rewatch it today.

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