Friday, March 16, 2012

A Reel 25

"I'm too old for this shit"

This month marks the 25th anniversary of LETHAL WEAPON.

Directed by Richard Donner, LETHAL WEAPON became a benchmark and a new beginning for “buddy cop” films. By pairing Mel Gibson’s troubled and suicidal cop character with Danny Glover’s grounded family-man, the film had instant chemistry. Donner wisely saw the magic between the two actors and let the personal stories take center-stage and the action serve as a secondary concern.

To counter the chemistry between Gibson and Glover, Donner cast Gary Busey as a villain. An established star since his Oscar-nominated performance in THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY (1978), this was the first time Busey had been cast to play a bad guy. The film is credited with reviving his acting career.

Released in March of 1987, the film remained at No.1 for three weeks before eventually grossing $120 million worldwide. It was nominated for two Oscars (Best Sound and Sound Effects Editing), and is considered to be the starting point for a long line of “buddy cop” film franchises that would follow for the next two decades; films like TANGO & CASH, BAD BOYS and RUSH HOUR can trace their roots back to LETHAL WEAPON. Mel Gibson’s performance inspired Franco Zeffirelli to cast him as the lead role in HAMLET (1990), and in 2007 Entertainment Weekly magazine ranked the film #24 on their list of the greatest action movies of all time.


This Blogger missed the opportunity to see LETHAL WEAPON on the big screen (where’s that digital 2D, 4K release, dammit), and had to experience first-hand at home. But even on the small screen, the action was fun and the characters interesting. In viewing through older eyes it still holds up thanks to its timeless and important themes of friendship, family, old-age, and personal demons. Twenty-five years later, LETHAL WEAPON is not too old for this shit.

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