25 September 2017 (released)
27 September 2017
It has recently started to feel like it is only a matter of time before every iconic film or television series spawned in the 1980s and 90s is given a dusting off and a rebooting. Having witnessed the highs and lows of Noah Hawley’s engaging Fargo tv adaptation, the dismal Baywatch film and the uneven X-Files revival, big things were expected of Fox’s Lethal Weapon Season 1, released on DVD in the UK this week.
The original Lethal Weapon, written by serial buddy-movie purveyor Shane Black (The Nice Guys, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) was a big hit in 1987 on release. Directed by Richard Donner (The Goonies, Superman) it introduced America to perhaps its most notable Australian import, Mel Gibson, whose much liked performance as a seriously troubled narcotics officer was counter-balanced by Danny Glover’s older, sager Sergeant.
This pairing has been altered and adapted for the present day, now comprising one of the Brother Wayans, Damon, playing Roger Murtaugh and Clayne Crawford resurrecting the role of Martin Riggs. There is certainly chemistry and a slightly off-kilter note to the performances. Both try to assert the balance of the original piece, that of comedy, severity and pathos. At times the balance is well maintained and at times it slips into bathos; the main problem is that it will inevitably be compared to the original, and the series is often a good advocate for the idea the film was and still is a better medium for conveying a simple idea or theme effectively, quickly and portentously.
Black, who penned both the original film and the far less interesting sequel, has come back to pen the first episode and oversee production. This explains the faithfulness to the source from episode 1, but his decision to portray Rigg’s tragic backstory provides a very televisual set-up and structure, in a not-so-nuanced manner. Once the over-arching narrative of buddies coming together from pain kicks in there is fun to be had, and the relationship is developed with some skill, while numerous action sequences reveal the influence of executive producer McG. But cinema can do it in 100 mins, and with an even greater thrill…
Simon Kennedy & Liam Gannicliffe
In celebration of the home entertainment release of Lethal Weapon: The Complete First Season, we were invited down to Kua-aia (http://kua-aina.co.uk/) to enjoy a Murtaugh and Riggs diet of burgers and beer while watching the first episode.