Monday, January 07, 2008

Lethal Weapon and Heroes in Hard Times

While Lethal Weapon initially appears to fit into the average buddy cop breakdown, upon closer inspection there are multiple reasons that keep it from fitting simply into Neal King’s rundown of what a buddy cop film should be/is.

Initially, it seems simple enough to fit into King’s rundown of your everyday cop film. Martin Riggs does seem to be fighting for a loss of ground. This is most noticeable at the end of the movie when Riggs fights Mr. Joshua in hand to hand combat. He seems to be attempting to go back in time, to restore the honor that came with reigning in a criminal. Additionally, Riggs has lost a wife which puts him into the category of having an unhappy or incomplete love/family life. He is also used to using unconventional methods, like when he shoots the sniper at the school instead of trying to talk him down or take him quietly. A troubled character, at first glance he is the biggest reason why this movie should fit into King’s cop genre.

Additionally, Roger Murtaugh seems to fit the category of your average sidekick. He provides the therapy that King talks about as one of the sidekick’s main jobs, abating Riggs’ suicidal tendencies. Murtaugh also has the family that Riggs wished for with his wife before she died, providing a stable, middle-class background which highlights Riggs’s insanity.

However, I find that both of these arguments fall just slightly short. For example, Murtaugh does not appear to be the overtly happy cop that King would have the audience think of him as. At the beginning of the film he seems discontent with his job and his age (shaving his grey beard off after his daughter makes a passing comment). Additionally, the poor quality of Murtaugh’s wife’s cooking further shows this. He has even bought a boat he doesn’t know how to sail which seems to suggest an attempt at getting away. Additionally, Riggs does not fully fit King’s stereotype. King seems to say that the death of Riggs wife fits into his stereotype of women who get killed or hurt by the cops job. However, that Riggs’s wife was murdered isn’t even revealed in this film. If you’ve never seen the other movies then you would seriously have to go on the story that Riggs offers of how she died in a car accident. While her death does still present the audience with a reason for Riggs’s insanity I do find it hard to mesh with King’s argument.

Overall, though, it’s one of the best buddy cop films. Maybe I’m just partial because I like to make fun of Mel Gibson and my boyfriend would actually watch this movie with me. But seriously, the partners meet and fight, but when it times to catch the bad guys they make up and become best friends. And they all lived happily ever after, or at least until the sequel.


Blogger Vladigogo said...

Real perceptive read on Murtaugh. You are right. There is an unfinished quality to him. A need for something, which may be why his house is constantly under construction, at least in Lethal Weapon and Lethal Weapon II.

9:13 PM  

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