Lethal Weapon Review
6 March 1986
Behind the Scene and other Major Plot Points
Casting of Gary Busey
On E! True Hollywood Story (1996), Gary Busey says he was hired to play Joshua because they were looking for someone big and menacing enough to be a believable foe for Mel Gibson. Busey also credits the film for reviving his failing movie career
What is the mental difficulty that Riggs is having?
In the film it’s briefly explained a few times that Riggs’ wife (Victoria Lynn) had died recently. The police psychologist is seen explaining to Rigg’s captain that “his wife of 11 years recently died in a car accident” and the incident has plainly thrown Riggs into a deep depression that’s affecting his everyday life and his work and has made him suicidal. There are definitely some psychological models that could be applied to Riggs himself — one could be post-traumatic stress disorder/syndrome which many people who go through a traumatic incident can develop suddenly. However, Riggs still working and solving drug-dealing cases but he often loses control, like we see in the scene at the Christmas tree lot — he demands that his backup team shoot the crook holding him hostage, seizes the guy’s gun and growls about shooting him after he surrenders. At the end of the film, having defeated his and Roger’s enemies, Riggs has regained some of his self-control. As he tells Roger in the last scene of the film, he’s not really “crazy” but has come out of his depression to a certain degree.
What type of sniper rifle is used by Riggs in the “limo shootout”?
Riggs is using the Heckler & Koch PSG-1. This was the first appearance of that legendary weapon in an action film. The PSG-1 is one of the most expensive of all tactical rifles (well over $10,000). Due to this fact, it is quite rare for the genuine article to be seen in movies.
Role of Hamlet offered to Mel Gibson
Franco Zeffirelli reportedly decided to offer Mel Gibson the role of Hamlet (1990) after seeing his suicide contemplation scene in this film.
The assassination of Michael Hunsaker
…., featuring a bullet-hit through a carton of eggnog, is most likely inspired by the assassination of Senator Jordan in The Manchurian Candidate (1962): bullet-hit through a carton of milk.
The Styles of Martial Arts displayed in the film
…include Shotokan Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Wing Chun, Muay Thai, Boxing, Capoeira, Judo, & Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
The only Lethal Weapon movie that takes place during Christmas.
Murtaugh’s boat has an internal engine as well as an outboard. This is not a goof. Outboards are often used as ‘trolling motors’ on such boats for fishing, propelling the boat quieter and more efficiently at low speeds than the bigger main engine.
Critics of the film
The 4 Mar 1987 Variety and 6 Mar 1987 Los Angeles Times reviews criticized the film’s flimsy narrative structure and “plot holes”, but Mel Gibson’s performance received consistent praise. In a positive review on 6 Mar 1987, Janet Maslin of New York Times described the film as “all fast action, noisy stunts and huge, often unflattering close-ups” but stated that “it packs an undeniable wallop”. Variety magazine noted that Donner wanted an action film with a sensitive side, but said the two “strains” never quite melded.
Goon with the glasses
Each movie of the ‘Lethal Weapon’ series features a goon with glasses. Here, in the first one, it is the balding goon, Gustaf (Gustav Vintas), who delivers the line “He has a grenade!” during the desert scene and is later shot in the club by Riggs.
TITLE DROP: Murtaugh speaks the title of the film when he says to Riggs, “I suppose we better register you as a Lethal Weapon.”
RT/Meta Critic Review
The story, which proceeds with inevitability, is enlivened by Donner’s rousing action sequences.(Click here to see)