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Lethal Weapon and the SHOOT HIM Moment

The One-Line Summary: Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) is an L.A.P.D Narcotics detective who develops some serious personal issues after his wife is killed in a traffic accident, so when his behavior gets out of hand, is transferred to Homicide and partnered with Sergeant Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover), causing the two to at first to despise each other but eventually bond, as they take on a powerful group of drug smugglers.

Mel Gibson, Danny Glover (Warner Bros.)
Mel Gibson, Danny Glover (Warner Bros.)

The Two-Line Blurb: The first in the series and what has come to define the buddy cop genre, Lethal Weapon is a solid mix of great action and violence with often very funny moments of comedy that works very well, with Gibson delivering a manic performance as a suicidal cop. Directed by Richard Donner, the film does right by keeping the story about the two men and not the story, allowing the action they are involved in to create circumstances to develop an often emotional relationship between the clearly struggling Riggs and the one man who know how to reach him. 

Warner bros.
Warner bros.

The Three-Line Set-up: It all starts with a drug bust where Riggs is under cover. It’s Christmas time in L.A. and cops have found that deals are being made in a parking lot where crooks are selling cocaine out of a truck, passing themselves off as Christmas tree farmers. Riggs, in broad daylight, takes up the role of a buyer and settles in to make a deal with three seedy man and a big bag of powder.

Warner Pros.
Warner Pros.

The Four-Line Moment: Hidden in rows of cut trees, the three sellers are asking for a hundred for the bag, so Riggs takes out $100, which riles the men as they meant a hundred thousand. Riggs then presents his badge, which the baddies don’t immediately believe, but when a fourth man, hiding in the open van behind Riggs fires, missing Riggs and hitting their leader, a gun fight breaks out and cops swarm the scene. It comes down to Riggs being held at gunpoint by the last man, his neck throttled in the crook’s arm. Riggs, clearly unstable, shouts to the surrounding police to shoot the gunman, and then to the gunman to shoot him, which, when it’s all over and the drug dealer is subdued, has Riggs, in a breathless psychotic state, wide eyed and pondering his actions.

The Five-Word Review: The best in the series.

Clip courtesy Randall Mitchell

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Director:

Richard Donner

Writer:

Shane Black

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    • David August 19, 2015
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