Saturday, January 05, 2008

Lethal Weapon & Heroes in Hard Times

When watching Lethal Weapon, I kept thinking about King’s chapter on White Male Guilt. Mel Gibson’s character, Riggs, struggles with the murder of his wife. He is shown crying, staring at her picture, and putting this gun in his mouth considering suicide. The fact that he contemplates taking his own life actually makes him stronger as a cop because he isn’t afraid to die, however this puts others in danger too. He urges a drug dealer to kill him, jumps off a building with the potential jumper, walks straight into the line of fire of a sniper, etc. He tells his partner, Murtaugh, that it’s the job that keeps him alive. It’s what he is good at. While some of his actions not only put himself in danger, but others too, he appears to know what he is doing and each time is successful. Riggs fits the cliché character mentioned by King of the widowed cop who lives for his job.
The viewer also can’t help but notice the two distinct lives of the black and white cop duo. Riggs lives in a trailer with his dog and Murtaugh (the older, black cop) lives in a nice house with his wife and three children. Glover’s character does not face issues of race, but rather age. He struggles with turning fifty, making comments such as “I’m too old for this.” He goes to the shooting range to prove to himself that he is still capable of shooting the target.
The end is worth noting because after fighting Joshua (also an interesting choice of character, the albino) Riggs collapses in Murtaugh’s arms. This shows their true closeness, despite race and age. Then, they both pull out their gun when Joshua attempts to fire at them. In the beginning they struggled as a team because they had different ways of dealing with situations, but in the end they understand each other. This cop duo and white villain are the cliché characters in which King points out and expands on in his book.


Blogger Vladigogo said...

Doesn't Murtaugh in a way go against the cliche because he does have a nice house, a normal wife, three kids, a cat. Is that really the cliche in the movies? He actually is a cop who is happy and contented, except for his age, which is his defining characteristic.

Why can't the black man be upset and emotional about his wife dying? Do we see that at all in movies?

5:58 PM  

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