Lethal Weapon (1987) - *****
Is this the perfect guy's film ever? Yes, yes it is. From the very off, Lethal Weapon boasts everything an action/thriller/buddy cop film should have. Action, humour, drama and romance. Let's start with the action. A bone crunching wrestle with a maniacal nothing-to-lose Gary Busey and an even more maniacal Mel Gibson in the rain sound good? Endless car chases, helicopters and a gruesome torture scene are all here too. Throw in some inspired banter between Danny Glover and Gibson and you have a film. And what a film. It's a testosterone charged roller-coaster, interspersed with genuine drama from the two leads who switch from wise cracking to serious in the blink of an eye, but with chameleon-like truthfullness. Both Riggs and Murtaugh (Gibson and Glover respectively) are men coping with the weight of the world, one seems to escape home and the other escapes when he's working. I would go as far as to say this is the best "buddy cop" film I have ever seen and would urge anyone (perhaps not the ladies) to go and see it.
Lethal Weapon 2 (1989) - ****
The first three Lethal Weapon films all look like they have been shot back to back, and this more than anything ensures the success of all three by blurring the lines somewhat of where they start and finish. Gibson and Glover are back on top form, the villains are fantastically ridiculous, dabbling in slightly political crimes, but doing enough horrible things (They kill Patsy Kensit, don't you know) to keep grittiness levels up. It's a lot more fun than it's predecessor, which is saying quite a lot, but it is the right choice for the franchise, introducing Joe Pesci, and dismantling a house on stilts the Riggs way. The new sense of fun births the real joy in the Lethal series, how much they can make you care for the series and it's characters. All in all, this action packed ride is a must - see for everyone.
Lethal Weapon 3 (1992) - ****
Lethal Weapon 3 is a solid installment in a beloved franchise. It's less silly than the second, but actually far funnier. ("We're in the middle of a case... of scotch.") It doesn't have quite a strong a storyline, the only casualty of opting for a more family based approach. Murtaugh learns important father lessons when he kills one of his sons friends in a shootout. Riggs falls for a firm willed colleague, Lorna, played by Rene Russo. And Joe Pesci's back. I personally never grow tired of watching these cast of characters and I return to these films again and again. There is still a powerful dynamic between Gibson and Glover, made stronger still by the two characters ordeals in this film (Murtaugh's guilt and Riggs realising he's getting old.) Although non-Lethal fans may dislike a slightly flimsy backstory of a cop turned bad, the film still can't help but be top-notch entertainment from start to finish.
Lethal Weapon 4 (1998) - *****
A perfect end to a perfect series. Riggs and Murtaugh, both now past their peak, are back. So are Rene Russo and Joe Pesci. And now newcomer Chris Rock and new villain Jet Li join the Lethal posse. Once again, the laughs and thrills are sprayed about like machine gun fire, right from the start (the opening sequence has large quantities of both) and yet this is perhaps the most moving Lethal movie of the lot. What makes this series so successful was the chameleon abilities of Gibson and Glover to sometimes portray funny and real drama simultaneously. They are never stronger than in this film, and the rest of the cast are the same (Chris Rock isn't annoying for a change, and Jet Li is as threatening as he's ever been). Wonderfully fitting.