Lethal Weapon is a nearly perfectly structured action movie. The acting, the story, the script, the directing, even the IDEA of the movie all combine to make up a fascinating and thrill-packed police film. The cross-cutting at the beginning of the film was particularly effective, in my opinion, as Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) and Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) are introduced. The startling difference between their separate lives provides for tons of fun to be had later in the movie. Roger starts his day off as the family man reluctantly celebrating his 50th birthday party with his numerous children and his loving wife in the big family house, while Riggs is shown waking up naked in his trashy trailer and beginning his day with a healthy breakfast of a cigarette and a beer.
The fact that both Roger and Riggs hated that they had to work together was especially effective in creating a touching atmosphere as they grew to be closer and closer friends. They worked so well together in this movie; it was a symbiotic relationship. It was almost like they fed off of each other, and kept each other in line and out of trouble. I also liked the way that they showed that Riggs was deeply angered when he learned that the bad guys had taken Murtaugh's daughter. Things like this, when done right, can really get you to sit up and really get into the movie, and it was definitely done right here. Riggs was also very amusing in his anxiousness about being a cop (`Why don't you let me go to sleep?' `No, come on, we gotta get up and catch bad guys!'), and Gary Busey delivers an excellent performance as the lead bad guy. This is the type of role that he plays best (see "Under Siege").
Although the violence was painfully present in some parts (the torture scenes were short but extremely difficult to watch), the film never relied on violence to pull it along or keep the audience's attention. The story was sufficient enough so that there was no overindulgence necessary in anything like that. In this film you see the first of the now traditional Lethal Weapon scenes in which Riggs and Murtaugh stagger away from a smoking crime scene, seeming to hold each other up. The final fight scene between Riggs and Mr. Joshua (Busey) was a little excessive, and there were a few scenes which were a bit faulty (how did the guy on the building ledge expect to kill himself when there was such a huge air bag inflated on the ground directly below him?), but overall this was a spectacular crime thriller. The movie rushes along at a feverish pace, and particularly Gibson's and Glover's success working together on screen make this a timeless action film that is not to be missed.