June 6, 2016

Lethal Weapon 1 & 2

I distinctly remember scrutinizing this movie poster while waiting for
a train in 1989 and wondering "does that little red dot on the gun mean
the safety is ON or it's NOT on?"
The cable TV channel REELZ showed Lethal Weapon and Lethal Weapon 2 back-to-back the other night; I watched most of the first one on Sunday evening, then TiVo'd the sequel to watch Monday evening.
  • The whole point of the movie is that Riggs is the loose cannon rogue cop who doesn't follow the rules, and Murtaugh plays it safe. There's no arguing that the bad guys are bad guys, but the complete disregard for civil rights and due process is completely out of fashion in 2016, especially for the LAPD. Riggs is cut from the same vigilante cloth as Dirty Harry, but in our post Rodney King, post Ferguson America, Riggs looks more reckless than effective. In Lethal Weapon 2 he breaks into the house on stilts, and later, sneaks into the South African embassy. Both times I thought to myself "without a search warrant, what is the point of this illegal entry? Even if there was no diplomatic immunity, any evidence he finds will get thrown out of any court in America!"
  • I tried to feel bad for Patsy Kensit-- In Lethal Weapon 2, Riggs seduces her when he's already marked for death by her bosses. If his motivation is to gather intel from her while seducing her (James Bond style) I can understand that cold calculation, but that does not appear to be the case- not only does she not pump her...for information (pun intended), he does not seem at all concerned that he is endangering her life by getting her involved with him. Indeed, even after the helicopter firefight at his mobile home, he takes Kensit home to her apartment, aggressively ignoring the possibility that the baddies will find them there (which they do). A few minutes later, when Riggs recovers her very soggy and dead body in his letterman jacket from the harbor, his distress rings pretty hollow to me. If he hadn't gotten randy for the cute secretary, and he had made the smallest amount of strategic thinking, she'd still be alive.
  • Mel Gibson's "American" accent was still really terrible in these movies.
  • Michael Kamen's score is bombastic, but that's appropriate for the tone of the movie!
  • There were a lot of helicopters in action movies in the Eighties! I understand the baddies in the first movie are all Vietnam vets, so there's a history of helicopters, but the helicopter stunt flying is given lots of screen time too.
  • The destruction of the house on stilts is very impressive. For 1989 it must be real, right? It does not look like a model!
  • I just confirmed what I have always suspected: Gibson was born in 1956, which makes Martin Riggs 10 years too young to have served in Vietnam. Even if he was a crack sniper at age 19, that was 1975, the year the US left Vietnam. I suppose if Riggs is 5 years older than Gibson the math works?
  • By contrast, Gary Busey, the "albino jackrabbit sonovabitch" who plays crazy very convincingly, was born in 1944, which is just right for a Vietnam vet.
  • Mel Gibson plays the insane berzerker TOO effectively! It's easy to see why we all wanted him to play Wolverine in an X-Men movie.
  • I forgot how funny Joe Pesci is! A real treat. So adorable! On the other hand, when he's tied up and beaten by the South African thugs, I wanted his Tommy DeVito character from GoodFellas to appear and start shooting everyone in the foot.

June 3, 2016

The Nice Guys

A terrific retro buddy comedy from Shane Black: Lethal Weapon divided by Boogie Nights crossed with L.A. Confidential, 20 years later.
Embassy Cinema Waltham with George.

June 2, 2016

Lucy

Luc Besson, who always has leavened his action spectaculars with a dash of philosophy (see The Fifth Element and Leon) has made a thinking-person's superhero origin story...without the heroics. The Big Question Besson seems to be asking is "what is the greatest purpose of mankind when granted omnipotence and omniscience?" The movie is urgent and serious, ie, not much fun and over very quickly: The first half hour creeps by- just get to the chop-socky action already! And then it's the entire movie is a slender 90 minutes.
Viewed at home on HBO Go