Lethal Weapon [Director’s Cut] (1987): Breakdown by Rantbo & Kain424
Two lawmen overcome their contrasting social lives by sharing their feelings and learning to love their odd-couple partnership. And Gary Busey holds his bare arm over a butane lighter for like 30 seconds just to prove how crazy badass he is.
RANT: Two polar opposite cops; an older straight-laced black family man, Sgt. Roger Murtaugh (Glover) and a younger suicidal hard-ass white loner, Sgt. Martin Riggs (Gibson), are reluctantly made partners and must work together to solve a case filled with murder, kidnapping, terrorism, torture, extortion, drugs and mud-wrestling.
Named after a line of homoerotic dialogue in which Murtaugh discusses in awe the physical prowess of Riggs:
“Your file also said you’re heavy into martial arts, tai chi and all that uh, killer stuff. I suppose we have to register you as a lethal weapon.”
LETHAL WEAPON is considered by many (including us) to be the pinnacle of the Buddy-Cop Sub-Genre of BadAss Cinema, and as such, we (Kain and Rant) have decided to tackle this breakdown in tandem. To prepare for this venture I have eaten nothing but dog biscuits for the last 24 hours and Kain chained himself up in our bathtub and had me administer shock treatment until he called me Endo. Not to mention, upon commencing, we plan on celebrating by watching the Looney Tunes Christmas Carol and then fighting to the death in our front lawn, soaked in fire hydrant water for an audience of members from the local PD.
KAIN: Are you through?
RANT: I haven’t even started. —But you go ahead.
KAIN: After the Sydney Poitier and Rod Stieger film In The Heat Of The Night, it took a surprisingly long time for Hollywood to start making buddy cop films. The genre really started in films like Dirty Harry and 1972’s Hickey & Boggs, written by former I, Spy writer Walter Hill. Hill would go on to further expand the genre in 1982 with 48 Hours.
But it would be new screenwriter Shane Black that would more fully realize the genre with Lethal Weapon. Taking the black and white cop element from In The Heat Of The Night, combining comedy and irony from 1974’s Freebie And The Bean, and character elements from Dirty Harry, Black would create a film by which all others in the genre would be judged.
RANT: And he was only 22 at the time he sold the script for a record breaking sum.
LETHAL WEAPON is THE quintessential cop movie to watch and enjoy with your best bud (gay lover). It has everything: Explosions, shoot-outs, a car chase, broken glass, Gary Busey, drugs, titties, sarcastically witty dialogue, Mel Gibson’s bare ass, Al Leong, prostitution, Mel Gibson’s mullet, horny teenagers, Gary Busey and a car driven through a house into a Christmas tree. Brought to us through the combined talents of producer Joel Silver (COMMANDO), director Richard Donner (THE GOONIES) and the green, yet golden screenwriter, Shane Black (THE MONSTER SQUAD), there was practically no-way that they could have fucked this up and made it anything less than the nearly perfect piece of BadAss Cinema it is.
KAIN: What’s interesting, as well as bad-ass, is the fact that though the characters are of different races and different classes and backgrounds, the subject is never breached in the film. Compare that to films made almost twenty five years later and you’ll see just how far ahead of the curve Lethal Weapon was at the time. And like Rant said, this is truly a great film to watch with a best bud. Once my electric burns have been thoroughly cared for, I fully intend to do so.
[HOW BAD-ASS ARE THE MAIN CHARACTERS?]
Danny Glover is Sergeant Roger Murtaugh is Getting To Old For This Shit
RANT: Age before beauty. Sounds like an 80s man to me.
Glover was given the unforgiving task of playing the straight man to a lovable psychopath. Instead of having relatable quirks such as power-drinking and soliciting prostitutes to watch The Three Stooges, he has to make the grumpy old family man likable by comparison. But, like the man himself says, “Fuck easy.” With a combination of his gritty veteran cop skills, quick cynical wit and childlike wonder at humorous situations, Roger Murtaugh holds his own.
-God hates him.
-Can bust mad rhymes.
-Has a hellova nice family.
-Gets shot, beaten, then tortured for questioning, and the only piece of info he lets leak: “Go Spit!”
-And a saxophone riff plays every time his mood changes.
Mel Gibson is Sergeant Martin Riggs is One Psycho Sonovabitch
KAIN: Riggs is the titular “lethal weapon”, written as Shane Black’s version of Dirty Harry. What Gibson managed to do was fill the role with equal amounts of mad intensity and warm humanity. He, like Harry Callahan, lost his wife in a car wreck and now puts his all into his police work, accepting the deadliest jobs and pushing for an end to his mortality. Against Glover’s more relaxed and cool Murtaugh, Gibson’s Riggs is like a time bomb, ready to explode on the nearest foe.
-God hates him. But he hates God right back.
-Can bust a cap in someone 800 yards away.
-Has a cool dog in his beachside pad. [RANT: Pad, Shanty]
-Beats up Gary Busey and kills Al Leong.
-And a guitar riff plays every time his mood changes.
[THE BODY COUNT: 25]
KAIN: The final tally is 25, with Danny Glover offing 5 guys and Gibson killing 16. They both pour their lead into one guy, and with the rest of the film’s deaths being largely also those caused by gunshot, it’s nice to see a little variety and the film makers have obliged us. We also get deaths from falling, drowning, and broken necks. The bad guys never had a chance.
It’s a violent film, and you’ll love every minute of it.
[MOST SATISFYING ASS-KICKING & DEATH]
RANT: I think that we can both agree that Busey’s is the best.
KAIN: Definitely. Having just beat and defeated Gary Busey’s Mr. Joshua, Mel Gibson is wrapped in a blanket with his buddy Danny Glover. Suddenly, Busey springs up from getting handcuffed, pulls a gun from a nearby officer. Unfortunately for him, Riggs and Murtaugh have developed a strong bond over the film, which gives them special danger senses. The two draw their own guns and, in tandem, blast Mr. Joshua to Aryan hell.
[DUDESWEAT AND MACHISMO]
Riggs [to Roger]: “What are you, a fag?”
If that isn’t the pot calling the kettle queer…
Riggs: “I never forget an asshole.”
Riggs: “We’re gonna get bloody on this one Roger… …you’re gonna have to trust me.”
RANT: In an effort of full up-front disclosure, this film puts it’s bedazzled hot-pink playing cards on the table during the first hand, as Murtaugh is introduced in a bubble bath and Riggs with a bare-assed impromptu walk through his trailer.
Then the second day working together, Riggs shows up at Murtaugh’s home to wake him up from bed with a hot cop of coffee so they can get an early start to a busy day of comparing each other’s gun sizes and accuracy rates down at the precinct shooting gallery. Not surprisingly, Murtaugh’s is bigger and thicker, but Riggs’s has a larger capacity with more precise aim.
KAIN: That’s because it’s not about the size of your gun (I’m talking to you two, Callahan and McQ), it’s how you use it. Of course, this doesn’t stop Riggs from taking Murtaugh’s advice to “Put it in yo mouth!”
While at times it does seem to delve into an almost father-son sort of relationship, by the time these guys are bonding on a boat or shirtless and hugging at the end, we’ve seen that it goes much deeper than that. Like Rant mentioned earlier, Riggs wakes “Rog” up early one morning with a cup of coffee in bed. My girlfriend doesn’t even do that for me.
The film culminates with Mel Gibson and Gary Busey shirtless and mud wrestling, while Danny Glover lustfully looks on, getting really into it and shouting things like “Come on! Let me take him!” I would say this movie is gayer than two guys yelling over who gets to mud wrestle another guy, but that’s precisely what this film is. Gibson’s torture fetish is showing early on in this film as well, with Al Leong’s Endo zapping a shirtless Riggs all over the chest area while water drips on him. This film’s got something for everyone.
[EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY]
RANT: The film opens, OPENS with a half-naked chick, whacked out of her mind on poisoned smack, jumping to her death out of a 15 story hotel room.
KAIN: Outside of Murtaugh’s wife, I don’t think there’s a positive portrayal of a woman to be found in Lethal Weapon. After the opening scene of female mutilation, Murtaugh makes crude comments to a hooker, [RANT: Murtaugh: [To A Hooker] “All dressed up and no one to blow.”] who later gets blown up in the film’s biggest explosion. Murtuagh’s own daughter is kidnapped and when she gets a chance to escape is foiled by her own incompetent driving.
Mary Trainor shows up long enough to be made fun of for trying to be sensitive, a role that she’ll play again and again over the course of the series. There’s also a couple coke-whores who give away the bad guys whose house they’re staying at by using large amounts of their nose candy in front of a set of giant windows.
[EPIC MOMENT AND BEST ONE-LINER]
EP-M: Riggs Get Tortured, Then Pissed
“I’M GONNA FUCKIN’ KILL THE BOTH OF YOU!!!”
Chained half-naked below a leaking water main, Riggs’s abs are repeatedly hit with high voltage electric shock currents by Gary Busey and notorious stunt-man, Al Leong in his most arguably notable role of Endo the Torturer. Soon after Busey tires of Riggs’s stubborn refusal to divulge information, he leaves and orders Endo to culminate the festivities. At this point, Riggs has reached his breaking point, just not the one his captors were aiming for…
Feigning unconscious, Riggs waits for Endo to get close and surprises the poor bastard with a headbut, then quickly wraps his legs around the stunned man’s neck and snaps it like a kit-kat bar. Meanwhile, the best part is, in an adjacent room, the main villain is busy threatening the life and chastity of Murtaugh’s distraught daughter, as Roger is forced to sit and watch with nothing but hopeless promises of violent retribution to console him. To which the villain replies, “Spare me son, it’s over. There’s no more heroes left in the world.” And it’s at this moment Riggs busts in the room screaming with the body of Endo around his shoulders like a fucking bear-skin to save the day. It truly is epic.
BO-L: Murtaugh [referring to Busey’s corpse]: “Get that shit off my lawn!”
Damn it, that’s a great one. I’m gonna go with Lethal Weapon‘s take on a great Dirty Harry moment. In Dirty Harry, Eastwood’s Callahan goes to talk down a suicide jumper from a ledge. Eventually, Callahan just decks the guy out and carries him to safety. In Lethal Weapon, Gibson’s Riggs goes up to talk a jumper down, but finding the guy inconsolable, he handcuffs himself to the jumper and throws away the key. It’s at this point that Riggs gets that insane look in his eye.
The jumper still uncooperative, Riggs jumps off the ledge of the building, taking his handcuffed “jumper” with him. Brilliant.
BO-L: Riggs [after shooting a smiley face into a range target]: “Have a nice day.”
[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]
The love of two men can conquer anything, especially if that anything is a convoluted heroin case and a man’s feeling of loss for his dead wife. Or maybe they’re saying opposites attract. I don’t know. Love stories like this are never quite clear.
[THE CHECKLIST: 19 outta 25]
[ ] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor”
[ ] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[ ] Crotch Attack
[X] Dialogue Telling Us How Bad-Ass The Main Character(s) Is/Are
[ ] Ending Featuring An Ambulance, A Blanket or A Towel
[X] Giant Explosion(s)
[X] Heavy Artillery
[X] Improvised Weapon(s)
[X] Macho Mode(s) Of Transportation
[X] Main Character Sports Facial Accessory(s)
[X] Manly Embrace(s)
[X] Notorious Stunt-Man Sighting [Al Leong]
[ ] Passage(s) Of Time Via Montage
[X] Politically Fueled Plot Point(s)
[X] Senseless Destruction Of Property
[X] Shoot Out(s) and/or Sword Fight(s)
[X] Slow-Motion Finishing Move(s)/Death(s)
[X] Stupid Authoritative Figure(s)
[X] Substance Usage and/or Abuse
[X] Tis The Season [Christmas]
[X] Torture Sequence(s)
[X] Unnecessary Sequel
[X] Vehicle Chase(s)
[ ] Vigilante Justice