I’ll just say it…I miss Martin Riggs.
Come on…crazy eyes, flaring nostrils, tobacco breath, and don’t forget the flowing locks of that smooth lion’s mane mullet that only Mel could pull off. That character was priceless.
My first experience with him was again under the influence of “edited for television.” I didn’t care. That version still had enough car chases, gunfights, and explosions. I also found it fun to try and pick out which phrases were really curse words from the original version. It wasn’t that hard; poor dubbing drew attention to it. I’m sure someone out there thinks they’re very clever with the different phrases they came up with to dub-in alternately; but even at 10 years old I knew what they were saying.
I think everyone knew it wasn’t a real “firing” gun.
I miss Murtaugh too. Over the hill, on his last legs, he’s still got game, but he hates running, shooting and yelling. He just wants to bring people in, question them, and arrest bigger bad guys.
When we first meet Riggs, we’re not sure what to think of him. He looks like another junky trying to score some “H” on the street, when he lays a bomb of a badge on the table and we’re all in as viewers from that point forward (I personally was “all in” during that shootout at that Christmas tree lot when Riggs decides to wheel-barrel role on the ground while dodging returning fire and plugging about six bullets from his Beretta into the drug dealer trying to kill him).
Emotionally, Riggs isn’t doing well as he appears to have a death wish while on the job and–in his private life–he teeters on swallowing a hollow-point bullet through the back of his head day-to-day.
A family man that’s looking forward to getting “off the street” soon.
Of course he’s the perfect man to help keep Riggs focused on the work.
Riggs is the perfect man to help Murtaugh keep up his energy for the “job.”
I know that I have set this up as a cliche buddy cop movie, but at the time of it’s making, buddy cop movies weren’t a cliche yet and even if they were, they weren’t as good as “Lethal Weapon.” For me, this is the gold standard “buddy cop” movie that the rest of them are measured by.
Oh, and there is a plot. A good one, and I don’t want to give too many details away.
Just know this, one of–what I feel–the greatest underrated and forgotten actors plays a stone-cold-killer of a villain in this movie.
Now, when I say his name, I know you’ll chuckle. He has made himself quite a caricature at this point, but at one time–he was an amazing actor in the late 70s through the 80s. I don’t know what happened to Gary Busey (go ahead, I know you want to laugh) but if you take a look at his filmography, he had some amazing roles in: “The Buddy Holly Story,” “The Bear (as Paul “The Bear” W. Bryant),” “Silver Bullet,” “Let’s Get Harry,” “Lethal Weapon,” and later “Point Break.”
He really stepped out of himself in this role as a very level, silent killer that could frighten anyone just by stepping into the room.
All in all, we do watch this film for it’s central relationship. We want Murtaugh to live because he has put in his time over the years and we meet his beautiful, thriving family. We especially want Murtaugh to be the man that can bring some form of peace to Riggs and keep him alive.
We see Riggs grow as the protector, giving him a sense of purpose when the stakes are at their highest. We also see that Murtaugh has PLENTY left in the tank, and he wouldn’t even know that it was always there stirring inside of him, waiting to overflow, if Riggs wasn’t dropped into his life.
Call it another “buddy cop” movie if you want….
To me, it’s the first “buddy cop” movie that I ever saw and have ever seen.
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