Lethal Weapon (1987)

lethal weapon poster 1987 movie
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Fun, buddy cop movie

Not everything has aged well

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Lethal Weapon

Studio:  Warner Bros./Silver Pictures

Genre(s):  Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  March 6, 1987

MPAA Rating:  R

lethal weapon jumper scene riggs mel gibson michael shaner

Think about this…If you jump your pre-mullet will never become anywhere as glorious as my mullet!!!

Detective Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) has found himself saddled with a new partner…who may or may not be suicidal.  Detective Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) is mourning the loss of his wife and isn’t afraid to risk his own safety to get the job done.  When Murtaugh and Riggs are called in to investigate the suicide of a woman named Amanda Hunstaker (Jackie Swanson) by Murtaugh’s old army buddy Michael Hunsaker (Tom Atkins), they find themselves chasing down a covert drug operation that stretches back decades.  Bring down the cartel could be a challenge, and when the drug dealers learn about Riggs and Murtaugh, their lives and those around them could be in jeopardy.

Directed by Richard Donner, Lethal Weapon is an action cop buddy movie.  The film was release to positive reviews and became a box office smash.  The film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Sound.

The 1980s were action movies, and action movies were the 1980s.  Lethal Weapon was one of those action movies that everyone strived to be and was imitated multiple times after its release (included by the Lethal Weapon franchise).  Like a lot of movies, Lethal Weapon hasn’t necessarily aged well at points, but it is classic 1980s action.

lethal weapon shooting range have a nice day danny glover mel gibson

Have a nice day!

The movie would be classified as an action, but it is less of an action comedy than others in the series.  The Christmas based movie has a suicidal detective (even putting a gun in his mouth), but conversely, the movie also has some laughs and one liners.  The plot weaves and spins as Murtaugh and Riggs seek answers, but it ends with a rather unsatisfying (and unrealistic) fistfight which detracts from the overall product.

The film has also suffered in time due to the behavior of Mel Gibson.  He had already found his footing playing Max in the Mad Max trilogy, but he exploded in Lethal Weapon and became a bona fide box office star with Lethal Weapon.  Looking back on his performance, he lets his Australian accent slip a lot in the film, but he does play “crazy” well.  He’s tempered with the level headed Danny Glover who gets the harder job of being the straight man to the wild man.  Tom Atkins role is too small as Michael Hunsaker, and I also like singer Darlene Love as Glover’s wife.  It kind of feels like Lethal Weapon needed to solidify the “bad guy” with both Gary Busey and Mitchell Ryan kind of playing the big guns (but of course each “hero” needs a villain to take down).

lethal weapon ending riggs fights gary busey mel gibson

Discussed at the office party years later: “Remember that time we all sat around and watched Riggs fight that guy in a mud puddle while he tried to kill him? That was weird, am I right?”

The movie is typical 1980s action.  It features booming gunfights, big explosions, and intense stunts.  This entry in the Lethal Weapon series is probably the most mild in its stunt/action work simply because the budget kept growing and growing, but bigger doesn’t always mean better and this entry probably makes the best use of its budget in terms of telling the story.

Lethal Weapon is a classic in the “big ’80s” action movies, and it does retain a lot of its fun.  There is some unnecessary slo-mo, and a ridiculous “hey, let’s let these guys fight a bit” at the ending, but overall, it is a film that maintains its purpose…a popcorn movie with explosions, humor, and action.  Lethal Weapon was followed by Lethal Weapon 2 in 1989.

Related Links:

Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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