Ranking the Lethal Weapon Movies

Yo, these movies are fucking weird. Each individual one is like a very bizarre time capsule of the time it came out in regards to the fears and discourse of the time. All of them are incredibly messy in just about every way. They’re wild and mostly pretty fascinating even if “good” is not quite the word to describe ’em.

4. Lethal Weapon 2 [1989]

There’s a really beautiful moment in this film when Mel Gibson, Joe Pesci, and a hitman fall out a window and seven stories, and Danny Glover says “Oh shit!” like he just spilled milk. It is just perfect. Cinema is the truest art form. A few scenes later, Gibson attacks some goons with a pool net pole thing and then someone gets killed via a surf board.

3. Lethal Weapon 3 [1992]

By this point, the film became a really wild display of awful police behavior in a way that really captures the sickness of the institution. The film series does seem to be finally making some concessions to that with Mel Gibson’s “instincts” and “hunches” being wrong over and over again with some disastrous results. The big bad of the film is a cop. Then they have Roger shoot an ARMED black male, and it’s only “bad” in the context of the film because Roger literally knows him as a friend of his son. Then Roger goes to the kid’s funeral??? I don’t know. The film is a mess, but it definitely felt like shit was happening. The story of the film though is what is NOT there. Mass incarceration was eating cities like LA alive, but no one in the film is looking past the surface of any given situation.  It was weird but it’s an interesting artifact of 1992 that’s for damn sure.

2. Lethal Weapon 4 [1998]

The fourth entry might be the biggest mess of all, but it does have Jet Li kicking Mel Gibson’s ass. That’s always great.

1. Lethal Weapon [1987]

This movie is just fucking insane and full of cocaine in the best way possible. While Danny Glover was as great as he usually was, Mel Gibson is in particularly fine form as a total psychopath. It was a role he played suspiciously well!!

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