Lethal Weapon is a film teetering on the brink of absurdity when it gets serious, but thanks to its unrelenting energy and insistent drive, it never quite falls.
Danny Glover is a family-man detective who gets an unwanted partner in the possibly psychotic Mel Gibson. Story is on the back burner as the two men square off against each other, more as adversaries than partners.
Gibson is all live wires and still carries Vietnam with him 20 years after the fact. Though he’s 15 years his senior and also a Nam vet, Glover is meant to be a sensitive man of the 1980s. Gibson simmers while Glover worries about his pension.
While the film is trying to establish its emotional underpinnings, a plot slowly unfolds involving a massive drug smuggling operation headed by the lethal Vietnam vet Joshua (Gary Busey).
Ultimately the common-ground for Glover and Gibson is staying alive as the film attempts to shift its buddy story to the battlefields of LA.
Gibson, in one of his better performances, holds the fascination of someone who may truly be dangerous. Glover, too, is likable and so is Darlene Love as his wife, but he and Gibson come from two different worlds the film never really reconciles.
1987: Nomination: Best Sound