This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative.
It’s time to take a look at a thriller from back in the day. Lethal Weapon is a pretty popular thriller series and now I can say that I have finally started it. It’s aged pretty well and will definitely give you a solid amount of action. It’s going to be tough for the sequels to top this one and that’s always what you want to see. The first film of a series should always start off on a good note to keep you around for the sequels.
The movie starts off with introducing us to the two lead characters. Martin busts up a drug deal by pretending to be a buyer. This does lead to him almost getting murdered but he manages to get out in one piece. The fact that he takes unnecessary risks when going on these missions allows him to make it through in scenarios like this. Then you have Roger who is nearing retirement and plays things by the books. He’s told that he will now have to work with Martin since the guy is such a risk and nobody wants to work with him. Roger feels the same way, but it’s an order so he’ll get it done. What starts out as a simple drug crime becomes a big conspiracy as more victims are found and the enemies appear to have government issued weapons. Roger may have to take some big risks this time.
Lethal Weapon’s plot is sound even if it’s not the most original. The characters are basically trying to fight off a drug dealer with a few twists and turns thrown in. I don’t think the movie could go for a grander plot in the first movie since a good chunk of it is also developing the characters. This is something the movie will be able to skip in the sequel. These scenes are worth it though because they’re just a lot of fun. The character dynamic here is sound and the writing backs it up. It never feels like the scenes are wasted or that it slows down the movie’s pacing.
Martin is definitely a fun character even when he is going through quite a lot in his personal life. It’s pretty rare to have a main character who actually is suicidal. As a result he isn’t feeling 100% for most of the film and he acts very recklessly. To an extent this works out in his favor on some cases like when he busted a drug deal. Martin doesn’t let it get the best of him when we see the guy in action though. At one point Roger keeps quipping about how Martin seems to murder everyone but all of the deaths we saw in the film weren’t really avoidable. Martin proves that he is a great cop time and time again in the film. Ultimately he ended up being the MVP and Roger would have been doomed without him. It’ll be fun to see Martin in the second film since he should now be at 100%. He definitely contributes to a lot of the humor in the film as well.
Then we have Roger who is inching closer to retirement and has managed to make it through his career without injury. He has a family and considers himself to have had a pretty fortunate life so far. Being paired up with Martin definitely changes that as now any case could potentially be fatal. Martin may not be able to fight the way his partner can but he does still have good gun skills. He’s just a nice guy to hang around with and always means well.
Finally we have Joshua who may or be the main villain but he has the most personality. He works as a hit man for the villains and was trained in special forces. As a result he makes for a pretty tough villain to beat. He also did come very close to beating Martin so the guy lived up to his hype. The actual main villain is your classic drug dealer. He’s not bad, I like the confidence at least. He just isn’t quite as memorable as his right hand man. The guy also can’t fight so it’s not like he will be mixing it up with the others.
What really makes this film work is the solid humor. The movie has a solid script with a lot of good humor. There is some language but for the most part the film stays strong. It does manage to get that Christmas dinner vibe while also getting serious when needed. It really goes through all of the emotional shifts as the movie progresses. We also get to see why Martin is known as a living weapon by the end as he gets into some fights. The scene of him breaking free from the chains and taking down a bunch of guys was handled well. If anything it made the actual ending feel a bit superfluous. I know we needed to have a fight with him and Joshua but it was a little dragged out and didn’t really impress me. I actually found some of the other battles to be better but this one still did have some nice choreography.
Lethal Weapon also has quite a few different climaxes. One of them is in the desert and we got to see Martin’s shooting skills. Their plan was quite sound there and if anything Roger’s daughter just messed it up. I understand being a little nervous but once you’re in the getaway car that’s your chance. If she had braked, turned, or done anything then the whole film could have been ended much sooner. Roger also deserves some blame there since he didn’t support Martin at all once the shooting started. That was their best chance to end things. They may have ultimately won out, but things could have gotten very dicey by not finishing the villains off in this moment.
Overall, Lethal Weapon is a movie that has aged quite well. It’s just a fun action thriller that has a nice sense of humor. The movie has good pacing and writing so those are all of the elements that you need in order to be a success. Put one way, the film had no real negatives. I could recommend it to anyone who likes a good action film and the sequel is going to have some pretty big shoes to fill. Since the characters do return in the sequel that shouldn’t be a tall order though.