Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Back to the Action

I'm back with another look at another action flick for you...I know, its been forever.  I have no excuses, I just haven't felt like writing.  Yeah, I did write on Monday...but that wasn't really about movies.  It was more about life...and I try not to write too much about my life because it always sounds frivolous and whiny.  I mean, if something really awesome happens...you can bet I'm gonna write about it.  However, mostly nothing happens to me.  See?  I'm already sounding whiny.

Anyway, today I'm talking about one of the genre's classics from the 1980s that was written by a fresh out of school writer and designed as a vehicle for its two stars.  It also is responsible for the rash of buddy/cop flicks that were released in its wake (much like how Scream was responsible for all of its clones in the mid-late 90s).  To this day it is still a raw and unrelenting picture that is laced with great comic moments and has a darkside that is unlike its three sequels.  So lets dive right in and find out why Danny Glover thinks that Mel Gibson is a Lethal Weapon.

The film opens with a cheery rendition of "Jingle Bell Rock" as the camera travels over the city and finally lands inside of the window of an L.A. highrise where a prostitute is getting high and decides to kill herself by jumping out of the window.  Then we are introduced to our heroes.  The first is Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) who has just turned 50 and is feeling old as he watches his children grow up and his life goes by.  The second is Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson), a man who has been suicidal ever since the death of his wife.  Both men are detectives with LAPD and have been forced to work together on the suicide case.  Things start getting stranger when they discover that the suicide was actually a murder, the drugs the prostitute was taking were laced with drain cleaner, and to make matters worse...she was the daughter of an old friend of Murtaugh's and he wants Murtaugh to take violent revenge on the men responsible.  As the plot thickens and the film races toward its powder-keg conclusion, we see their relationship grow and find out if Riggs really has it in him to kill himself.

The first Weapon is a lot darker than most people remember, and while yes it does have Riggs and Murtaugh cracking wise and having a fun time...that doesn't mean the film really is a fun time like its followups.  This is a dark film that asks tough questions about depression and loss and deals with violence in a frank and straightforward manner.  Most of this comes from writer Shane Black's dark take on the cop drama as he saw it in the 1980s.  Black is well known as the writer of several audience favorites including The Last Boy Scout, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and The Monster Squad.  He also appeared as Hawkins in Predator, so he is no stranger to the action genre.  However, one has to also acknowledge the contribution of director Richard Donner...who's specialty is loud and bombastic crowd pleasers...and lead players Gibson and Glover, who make their characters seem like real people.  Now don't get me wrong, I think this is a great movie, but I prefer the sillier times found in parts 2 and 3.  I mean, I like to have fun while watching action and this movie is very dark.  That said, its a wonderful film and one that everyone should see once...(and for those of you with a leaning toward attraction for the male sex...Mel Gibson shows off his rather nice rear end right at the start of the film).

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