Well my dears, as I am sure you have all noticed by now, the Festive Season is upon us once more. Only 21 more sleeps until Christmas and, while I’m sure you’re trying to juggle gift buying with the inevitable family drama that Christmas invites, I’m here to encourage you to take some time out for yourself and use the month of December to catch up on some classic Christmas films.
I’m going to look at one each Friday between now and Christmas and we’re going to start with one of my all-time favourite buddy-cop films, which also happens to be set during the Yuletide season – that’s right, we’re talking about Lethal Weapon!
I believe this was the franchise that bought Mel Gibson to the world, some might argue that it was actually Mad Max, but I don’t think that was anywhere near as popular nor that it made Mel Gibson a household name. Anyway, so this is back in the early days, before the freak outs and the threats and the alcoholic rants, way back before Signs, before Passion of the Christ, was back in the days of mullet hair cuts and thinly veiled Australian accents – let’s just say that if you were Mel Gibson, this was the best of times…
What I love about Riggs (that’s Gibson) is that he’s really not your traditional hero in this instalment of what went on to become a four film franchise. He’s in a bad place, he’s behaving badly, he’s a bad partner and he just doesn’t give a shit about any of it. He smokes all the time and seems to be drinking beer for breakfast (that’s not healthy, yo!) At least, that is, how it is initially. Enter Murtaugh (that’s Danny Glover), who is the stereotypical family man – about to turn 50 (which I guess meant something different in those days, because they’re carrying on like he has a foot in the grave). Murtaugh acts as a balance for the spiritually tortured Riggs and together they happen to uncover a crime ring that encompasses not just the seedy underbelly of the city, but some really serious mercenaries as well. The only way they’re going to live through is if they learn to like, trust and support each other.
Throughout the course of the film, Riggs (via his interaction with his partner and the Murtaugh family) comes back to humanity and the real world, making peace with his numerous demons, so to speak, and Murtaugh realises that, while he has turned fifty, he is indeed only as old as he feels. Thus, the pair use their new found friendship to come back to life in a way. Together they solve the crime, save the day, jump off a building, kill plenty of bad guys, survive some pretty epic torture and display their hand-to-hand combat skills. All in all, it’s a pretty sweet holiday film.
For the record, my favourite scene is the one where they go to interrogate Dixie… only her house explodes before they can ring the doorbell and they are forced to interrogate the only witnesses to the crime – a group of kids.
I just love where Riggs delivers the ‘Roger, that’s a special forces tattoo…’ line, which manages to be a bit chilling, but also a bit funny because he accent manages to peek through in the oddest way.
Probably the only drawback to this film is the fact that it’s the only one in the franchise that doesn’t feature the acting talents of Joe Pesci. Personally, I’ve always been a big fan.
Anyway, on this, our first Christmas Friday, I’d encourage you all to dig out this classic (seriously, it’s a staple, you should own it on DVD already) and reacquaint yourself with the buddy cop duo to rival all buddy cop duos. Not only are you going to be loving yourself sick through the action sceens and shoot-em-up’s, you’re going to be feeling well into the holiday spirit (I mean, there’s that fight amid the pine trees in the first ten minutes, if that don’t make you feel like Christmas I don’t know what will)!