Monday, March 13, 2017


"I'm too old for this shit.."

This month marks the 30th anniversary of LETHAL WEAPON.

Directed by Richard Donner, LETHAL WEAPON became a benchmark and a new beginning for “buddy cop” films. Based on a screenplay by Shane Black, the film was a first-time out adventure with a veteran by-the-book cop (Danny Glover) paired with a troubled and suicidal, yet gifted-with-weapons cop (Mel Gibson). The contrast between the two gave the film instant chemistry. Donner and Black wisely saw the magic between the two actors and let the personal stories take center-stage and the action and policework serve as a secondary concern. For an action flick, it was and still is a fine character piece.

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 (1989), BAD BOYS (1995), and RUSH HOUR (1998) 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. The film would skyrocket Gibson’s popularity while establishing roots for his eventual directing career, and Shane Black would go on to a productive screenwriting career, along with directing credits ranging from KISS KISS BANG BANG (2005), and IRON MAN 3 (2013). A TV series based on LETHAL WEAPON and its sequels would premiere in the Fall of 2016.


This Blogger missed the opportunity to see LETHAL WEAPON on the big screen and had to experience it for the first time 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. The screenplay acts as a master-class in contrasting characters, and the action scenes rank amongst the best ever staged and filmed. Thirty years later, LETHAL WEAPON is not too old for this shit.

"When I was 19, I did a guy in Laos from a thousand yards out. It was a rifle shot in high wind. Maybe eight or even ten guys in the world could have made that shot. It's the only thing I was ever good at. Well, see ya tomorrow."

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