Friday, March 7, 2014


In March of 1987, I was busy wrapping-up a year as part of my 'post secondary education', which may be why I missed the release of director Richard Donner's Lethal Weapon.

Last night I sat down with a friend's DVD (all four Lethal Weapon flicks in one set... that's what I call "lethal") and ended up enjoying the movie. While I don't profess to be an authority on the "cop buddy picture", I am aware that this territory was more virgin territory back when it was produced; the paint-by-numbers malady had not taken over, infecting so many movies of a similar intent. (Viewing from today's perspective, I almost always sensed what would happen next in Lethal Weapon. The fight at the end was ridiculous. When Gibson and Busey agreed to settle scores with a martial arts display, I burst into almost hysterical laughter, which converted into rolling giggles. I knew that Busey would try and get a gun, and that Mel and/or Danny would convert Busey into a mess of flesh and blood.)

Danny Glover and Mel Gibson were very good together. Mel was outstanding as a "tenuous" character. As a matter of fact, about twenty minutes into my private screening it occurred to me that he was channeling Dustin Hoffman, or seemed to be... which is not a bad thing at all. One could picture Hoffman playing this role if Gibson were to pass.

I won't bother with episodes II to IV. For some reason I sense familiarity....


Jawsphobia said...

L.W. II is arguably the most entertaining and somewhat gives closure to his wife's backstory. The villain of II from South America was topical at the time. III is fun for Rene Russo's fighting and the issue the movie hangs on is guns. IV is full of moments that play strangely after scandals attributed to Mel, and its weakness is how much in flux the script likely was. Lots of Chinese stereotypes and improvisation as well as too many subplots; Jett Li vs Gibson and Glover might lead to more unintended laughs. I't rank them thusly II, I, III, IV. On the last, the ending credits show crew members in on-set photos alongside their credits because Donner fosters a friendly family-like set. But that didn't make it a good movie, necessarily.

Barry Smight said...


Greg Woods said...

Ah, Mr. Smight. I've seen all four LW movies-- and Parts 2 and 3 are superior to the first IMHO.

Seeing the first movie again recently, the same problems emerged for me as when I saw it in 1988. It begins as an excellent psychological, character-driven piece, and then gives way to a Rambo mentality. The mix doesn't work. They cannily made the rest of the series with a sense of humour-- and I don't mean that it was all just mugging with a wink to the audience-- I hate that shit. And even with that in mind, they still deliver the goods. What really makes the movies work is the relationship between Gibson and Glover-- kind of a Laurel and Hardy dynamic. With Part 3, the Laurel and Hardy pair become The Three Stooges with Joe Pesci, who for once isn't grating.

The attempt to repeat the formula in Part 4 with Chris Rock in the Pesci role didn't work, as the humour was too forced, and the action was just too stupid and outlandish.

Do check out 2 and 3- you may be pleasantly surprised.

Also, to Mr. Phobia's point above-- that is interesting about how Mr. Donner ended Lethal Weapon 4. (I don't remember since I haven't seen the movie since 1998 in an attempt to review it for Eye magazine.) He ends his film Inside Moves also with a cast and crew snapshot- truly a family environment. If you see that film (his best, and even Mr. Donner thinks so), you'll see that love pour through.

Barry Smight said...

As a general rule I don't watch sequels. There are way too many films I want to see. But, I get your point. I did a quick read-up online after seeing Lethal Weapon and I did read a few comments about the first follow-up film as being the peak... in their IMHOs.

Now, Inside Moves is something I will check out, for sure.

Thanks for your comment and opinions!