Lethal Weapon Movie Review

Lethal Weapon

Two cops. Glover carries a weapon. Gibson is one.
Lethal Weapon Picture
Mel Gibson stars as 'Riggs' in the role that put him in the 'A' list


Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Gary Busey, Mitch Ryan

Tom Atkins, Darlene Love, Traci Wolfe, Jackie Swanson, Damon Hines, Ebonie Smith, Bill Kalmenson, Lycia Naff, Patrick Cameron, Don Gordon, Jimmie F. Skaggs, Jason Ronard, Blackie Dammett, Gail Bowman, Robert Fol Update Cast

Donner said of Lethal Weapon: "The thing I loved was the opportunity to do an action film with a total sense of reality. I can't handle gratuitous violence so we focused the story on the relationships, which continually grew richer as Mel and Danny worked together. Violence never seems to have any humor, whereas action can have a lot of it."

More Trivia from Lethal Weapon


"He's the only L.A cop registered as a Lethal Weapon".

One of the most slam-bang, knock-down-drag-out action movies of all time, "Lethal Weapon" is a turbo-charged adventure into the seamy side of L.A, as well as a revolution in buddy pictures and a genuinely emotional portrait of a suicidal man.

Martin Riggs (Gibson) is the Lethal Weapon of the title. Suicidal and psychotic over the death of his young wife, a typical day for him involves shooting out his TV, walking into a schoolyard sniper's line of fire, entertaining cocaine dealers with 3 Stooges impressions before a bloody fistfight and then a night of suicide contemplation while weeping over a picture of his beloved.

Roger Murtaugh (Glover), on the other hand, has a better grip on reality. A loving family man, he gets his job done with minimal worry, although the day of his 50th birthday, he becomes a little worried about whether his shooting is as good as it used to be.

What they both have in common is war experience and remnants of the war end up teaming these 2 cops, as different as night and day. Fearful and spiteful of each other, they'll have to learn to live with each other if they want to survive what's going to happen. The situation reads like this: A young woman named Amanda Hunsaker (Swanson) has had problems with falling. When I say that, I mean that first she fell in with the seamier aspects of the California underworld and then she fell out a window, high on a mix of cocaine and pills. The connection to the cops is that Amanda is the daughter of Murtaugh's Vietnam buddy Michael Hunsaker (Atkins). Michael, angry and distraught, wants his daughter's killers destroyed, saying simply, "You owe me, Roger!".

Information is soon revealed that Amanda didn't commit suicide...she may have been murdered. Apparently the pills she was on were spiked with drain cleaner. As they say, "even if she didn't jump, she would've been dead within 15 minutes".

Alright, we know our heroes, Riggs and Murtaugh and we know our, let's meet our villains: General Peter McAllister (Ryan) is a former Army official who has delved into the sleazy activities of drug dealing... Heroin, to be exact.

You don't mess around with McAllister, for he has a Lethal Weapon of his own... A man named Mr. Joshua (Busey). A stark figure, he beats and murders... He's so lunatic that you can put a lighter to his skin and he won't flinch.

Of course, even when working on a big case, duty still calls and we see an example of Martin's psycho side as he ascends a building to "rescue" a jumper. I put "rescue" in quotation marks, because he actually handcuffs himself to the lunatic and beckons him to jump with the warning that he'd be killing a cop if he jumped. Murtaugh, even within a few hours, has seen enough and says that Riggs can kill himself if he wants. Riggs then delivers a great monologue about how he does want to die and how he even has the right bullet, but he won't give in yet, because of the job. Murtaugh, satisfied, takes Riggs to dinner at his house, where we see that he doesn't exactly wear the pants in his family, but he's pretty well thought of regardless.

Continuing in their pursuit of the Hunsaker case, they witness the explosion of the house one of her friends lived in and they question a young boy about the case. When the child points out that one of the killers has a Special Forces tattoo like Riggs, they suspect something is up.

Back at Michael's house, a damaging bit of news is delivered: Michael is part of the heroin ring, which is run by ex-Vietnam veterans. Despite his daughter's death, now revealed to be part of a betrayal, he says there's no way out for him. Well, actually there is... Michael is murdered in a by-air gunfire assault by Mr. Joshua, who has further plans in store for Riggs and Murtaugh, starting with...

...The abduction of Murtaugh's daughter Rianne (Wolfe), who is kindapped from the Murtaugh home and taken to the desert flats. Riggs and Murtaugh, armed to the nines and ready to "get bloody", head for the desert. This is all just an elaborate trap to get Murtaugh and Riggs kidnapped themselves. Held hostage in the back of a club, Murtaugh is beaten bloody while Riggs is tied to a leaking water pipe and shocked with an electic prod.

Breaking free from restraint, Murtaugh and Riggs lay out a hail of gunfire for their captors and then, Rianne by their sides, they run into the L.A streets for a pursuit that begins with a gun-toting chase through a busy holiday night in L.A, continues with the destruction of the Murtaugh home, and ends with a battle between Riggs and Joshua that combines guns, shoot fighting and karate. With Mr. Joshua's shooting, the first case for Murtaugh and Riggs as a team ends with a drug ring destroyed and some of the most evil people in L.A bought down to size.

In what will be the first of several visits throughout the series (there would be 3 more sequels), Riggs visits his wife's grave to wish her a Merry Christmas and then heads over to Murtaugh's house for a Yuletide meal with Murtaugh and his family, who have become a second family to a once-lonely man.

Author: John Edward KilduffUpdate This Review


Excellent, excellent, excellent... This movie is totally flawless.

Brilliant dialogue and double-barrel violence, combined with great performances by Glover and Gibson before the sequels would turn their characters into spoofs, make sure this movie is dynamite.

The action is slam-bang and the dialogue is crackling...
Violent... Very violent. Those sensitive to such violent acts as shootings, stabbings and electro-shockings are advised to see a different movie.

Also, like most cop movies, not very realistic in the way of Police procedure. Riggs and Murtaugh are shown as two street cops handling situations which, in reality, are much better left to a SWAT team!

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The Movie Data

Key Crew

Director: Richard Donner
Writer: Shane Black
Producers: Richard Donner, Jennie Lew Tugend, Joel Silver
Locations Manager: David Israel

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Release Date: 06 Mar 1987
MPAA Rating: R
Studio: Warner Bros.
Production: Silver Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures
Genre: Action / Adventure

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The Movie Trailer
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1987 Warner Bros.
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