Monday, August 11, 2014

Lethal Weapon (1987) Review:

Buddy Cop films were not uncommon in the 80s for several reasons. A big reason was that they permitted heavy violence with comical one liners. Another reason though was to pair up two odd ball actors together in one movie. It was a big grab because it allowed for audiences to see interactions between stars that were not normally seen in other genres. Among all the productions that were made, the most popular and critically praised was Richard Donner's Lethal Weapon (1987), the director best known for Superman (1978) and The Goonies (1985) up to that point. Then, attach writer Shane Black to the production and it became an instant hit. Shane Black is the more successful brother of Terry Black, the writer behind Dead Heat (1988).

Danny Glover
Black's set up to the main story is for the most part like any other buddy cop film. Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) is an older police officer on the force getting close to retirement. Officer Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) is widower who can't be handled by his coworkers. Ever since he lost his wife, Riggs has been on the edge and no one wants to be partnered up with him. That is until he gets assigned to be with Murtaugh. Once Riggs meets Murtaugh, there is initial friction but they soon grow on each other with emotional backstories that are developed enough for the audience to care and understand. Aside from that, both Glover and Gibson give their characters a decent dose of charm. Glover is great at being the tired elderly cop and Gibson is great at being all over the place and bouncing off the walls. These contrasts are fun especially when they share the screen together.

There's also a number of supporting actors cast in this movie. Gary Busey and Tom Atkins also have significant roles to play. Tom Atkins plays key a part in a homicide that Riggs and Murtaugh have to figure out. Gary Busey doesn't play a unique individual but makes his performance interesting because he's not all out crazy. He's a bit disturbing but not loony. That's Gibson's role anyway. Sadly there isn't much to say about cinematography or editing. It is competently done though. The cinematographer was Stephen Goldblatt (who might be editor Mark Goldblatt's brother?). The editor was Stuart Baird, who also worked with Donner on Superman (1978). Other than that, there's nothing to say that really stood out.

Mel's crazy face
The action was handled well especially when it came to fight sequences. Mel Gibson sure knew how to throw a punch. As for shootings and car chases, nothing there felt special either, I actually expected more. Musically related, Michael Kamen produced the score  while collaborating with Eric Clapton. Was it memorable? Ehh, not really. However, the sound was different than most scores. This particular score highlighted the most saxophone in it than any other score I've listened too. This made it unique, sadly not enough to remember though. I don't even recall a main theme. However, there were some scenes that were effective - like Mel Gibson's emotional trauma. That worked, but it worked on occasion. It is still a well-made action film no doubt.

It has a good cast of actors, fun action and a well-written story. Music and camerawork are good too but nothing to be amazed over. Fun fun.

Points Earned --> 7:10


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