Top 365 Films – #201 – Lethal Weapon (1987)

Top 365 Films - Lethal WeaponDIRECTED BY: Richard Donner

STARRING: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Darlene Love, Traci Wolfe, Damon Hines, Ebonie Smith, Steve Kahan, Mary Ellen Trainor, Tom Atkins, Jackie Swanson, Gary Busey and Mitchell Ryan

BUDGET: $15m

EARNED (Worldwide): $120.2m

AWARDS: None (Oscar Nominated for Best Sound)



A veteran cop, Murtaugh, is partnered with a young suicidal cop, Riggs. Both having one thing in common; hating working in pairs. Now they must learn to work with one another to stop a gang of drug smugglers.


Lethal Weapon has us following two cops that are reluctantly thrown together as partners. One is Roger Murtaugh, an aging family man and veteran cop trying to make it through the day unscathed and the other is Martin Riggs, a loose cannon cop who has suicidal tendencies and the pair work together to solve a mysterious murder of a banker’s daughter, which leads them to uncover a dangerous ring of drug smugglers.


In the buddy cop movie genre you could say that Lethal Weapon is the classic benchmark of how it was done right, considering the number of sequels it spawned following the partnership of Murtaugh and Riggs, though the first film will always be my favourite of the franchise (Lethal Weapon 2 is well worth watching too). With Donner behind the helm and the script penned by Shane Black, Lethal Weapon is a terrific thrill ride involving shootouts on the streets, desert, helicopters, building jumping, kidnapping, car crashes, torture and a family dinner…within the space of a few days. Most of the film focuses on the characters of Murtaugh and Riggs, with Danny Glover in terrific form as Murtaugh, bringing a level of serious calmness to the role whilst the mayhem and the body count increases around him during the course of the films progression making him a perfect foil for Riggs played memorably by Mel Gibson, who carries his character with a great deal of tension and charisma and due to being so suicidal he no longer cares whether he lives or dies, bringing an extra level of tension to any shootout/showdown scenarios that come up in the film. The two of them have terrific chemistry together that you’d believe they had a great time on set, as we have watching the film.


FAVOURITE SCENE: The scene following the end of the ‘Do you wanna jump?’ scene where Murtaugh and Riggs have a confrontation which leads to Riggs putting a gun to his head. Glover and especially Gibson are terrific in this scene.

FAVOURITE QUOTE: ‘Hey, look friend, let’s just cut the shit. Now we both know why I was transferred. Everybody thinks I’m suicidal, in which case, I’m fucked and nobody wants to work with me; or they think I’m faking to draw a psycho pension, in which case, I’m fucked and nobody wants to work with me. Basically, I’m fucked.’ – Martin Riggs

DID YOU KNOW?: Jackie Swanson did perform the high fall on her own. Trained by legendary stuntman Dar Robinson. Also, the stunt was done using an airbag covered with a life-size painting of the driveway and cars, which, like a foreground miniature, visually blends into the real scene. Thus, the editor is able to hold the shot until just as she makes contact with the airbag, for greater realism.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.