Lethal Weapon review – big guns, fast cars and a dodgy death

The cop classic speeds on to the small screen, and with its spectacular car chases and buddy banter it feels like The Grand Tour – but with better dialogue

A cinematic ghost from the 1980s and 90s reappears in your living room on Friday nights. In Lethal Weapon (ITV, after airing on Fox in the US), Damon Wayans plays the Danny Glover character, Roger Murtaugh, a senior LAPD cop returning to work after a heart attack. Clayne Crawford is Martin Riggs – originally played by Mel Gibson – the younger, wilder former Navy Seal with a penchant for big guns and a death wish.

The plot of this pilot even vaguely follows the original film. After being introduced to devoted family man Murtaugh and to Riggs, who we learn has lost his wife and unborn child in a tragic car crash, we see the two paired up and set to work on a suicide that might not be a suicide.

But Lethal Weapon is not really about the plot – or, as it turns out, the dialogue. It’s about a car chase on a spectacular cliff edge. And another car chase in town, which gatecrashes a Grand Prix (literally). It’s all very well done – nice production values, nice budget. Soon we see more cars, super cars, in a warehouse at the docks, which looks like a scene from The Grand Tour. Actually, the entire show is a bit like The Grand Tour, except the cast is better looking and the dialogue is – surprise! – not quite as bad.

And it’s about guns, big ones – a very big one for Riggs, which he loves very much. Although he likes using those guns, it’s Riggs who gets shot – in the foot. Who shot him? Murtaugh, to save him of course. It should be no surprise that the end of the pilot they are well on the way to being buddies.

And that’s also what this new Lethal Weapon is about: introducing a new generation to the buddy action-comedy franchise. The 80s are hot right now. What next? Beverly Hills Cop?

Contributor

Sam Wollaston

The GuardianTramp

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