Lethal Weapon Tackles All The Important Issues of Our Times

Action flicks or forum for social issues? How about both.
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Action flicks or forum for social issues? How about both.
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Action flicks or forum for social issues? How about both.

Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

Some see the Lethal Weapon franchise, now available as a glorious Blu-ray box set, as the birth of buddy action movies, loaded with explosions and neck snaps. We looked deeper and realized they’re packed with social issues. Unlike every other action franchise born in the 80s, director Richard Donner makes sure his films are never too old for political shit.

Apartheid


Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

In Lethal Weapon there’s a bumper sticker on the Murtaugh’s fridge advocating a free South Africa. This was mere foreshadowing for Lethal Weapon 2, featuring racist South Africans looting America of its money and hiding behind diplomatic immunity. (More on that later.)

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Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

When Leo Getz (Joe Pesci) and Rog storm the South African embassy to create a distraction for Riggs, they let the issue be known: “Free South Africa, you dumb son of a bitch.” The movie was a success! Apartheid ended and American children now probably think Apartheid is a type of insect segment.

Human Trafficking


Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

Lethal Weapon 4 is the shittiest film in the franchise, replacing jolts with jokes, but it centers around evil Chinese baddies importing their own people for $35K then forcing them to work it off as slaves. Which brings us to...

Immigration


Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

A hot button issue of our times if there ever was one. At one point Rog asks a cynical agent “What happened to bring me your tired, your poor, your wretched masses yearning to be free?” Right on, Rog! As America looks to shore up its borders, Riggs and Murtaugh are trying to make America a better place for all races.

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Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

Suck on that, Jet Li!

Dolphins Stuck in Tuna Nets


Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

Moments before Rianne’s TV debut, Rog is preparing to snack on his tuna fish sandwich. He’s thwarted by his family who refuses to let him to eat it because dolphins get stuck in the net. His daughter makes the best case when she plainly states “they killed Flipper.”

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Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

Later Leo Getz gets fucked at the Subway drive-thru--figuratively, that is--and refuses to eat the tuna sandwich he was mistakenly given. Even if he wanted to eat it Rog was already on the no-tuna train so it looks like Leo got double fucked.

Gang Violence


Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

Boyz n the Hood exposed South Central, Los Angeles to the world in 1991, but Lethal Weapon 3 was hot on its heels in 1992. Rog’s son Nick is seen hanging with gang bangers, one of which is his childhood buddy Darrly. Rog’s preparation of a “sweet meat” burger is interrupted by automatic gunfire.

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Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

He guns down the perp only to find out...it’s Darrly! Gang violence hits home, people. Though if this movie had balls, they would have actually offed Lil’ Rog instead. Cop out!

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Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

At the funeral Rog gets smacked by the grieving mom (completely unfairly, we might add) and the father compels Rog to find the person who put the gun in his son’s hands (again, not really Rog’s problem...he’s got three kids and none are in gangs). Still, it’s hard to argue the point when Boy II Men’s “It's So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday” is tugging at your heartstrings.

Police Corruption


Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

According to movies and the rap opera we wrote, 96% of police officers in LA are dirty. Riggs and Murtaugh proved otherwise when they had their chance while trapped in that container in Lethal Weapon 2. They resisted, even though one bundle of $1,000 bills could have put all of Rog’s kids through college.

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Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

Jack Travis, the main bad guy in Lethal Weapon 3, is the epitome of a dirty cop, stealing guns and ammo from evidence and using armor piercing bullets (a.k.a. cop killers) against anyone in his path.

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Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

On a bright note, if it wasn’t for Travis, Riggs wouldn’t have found true love with Lorna Cole (Rene Russo) and then Russo’s stories at dinner parties would have been a tad lacking. In Lethal Weapon 4 there are hints of corruption lobbed at Rog, but it turns out his wife is making major bank writing romance novels. In our personal opinion, that’s a lot worse than stealing from drug dealers.

Dogs Are Family


Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

Sam is the unsung hero of the Lethal Weapon movies. When he’s not keeping his master from killing himself, barking along with The Three Stooges, or crawling through his cute door in the floor with his name on it, he’s saving Riggs and Rika Van Den Haas (Patsy Kensit) after their marathon boning session in Lethal Weapon 2.

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Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

In Lethal Weapon 3 Riggs rescues a mistreated guard dog after winning him over by rolling on the floor. It’s all encapsulated in this one quote: “I can't shoot a dog. People okay, but not dogs.”

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Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

Cats even get in on the act when the guys rescue a stray right before the building explodes in Lethal Weapon 4.

Suicide and Depression


Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

Before Lethal Weapon movie cops had to bury their emotions at all costs. That all changed when Riggs put a gun in his mouth after a quiet night in the trailer drinking booze, watching cartoons and looking at a photo of his late wife. He wasn’t faking it to draw psycho pension, he really was crazy. But by confronting his demons, and ignoring the psychiatrist who somehow made it in all four movies, he made it through the dark times.

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Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

Perhaps the real Mel Gibson should take some advice from his character. Mel, if you’re reading this, let us know what we can do. Also, if you’re reading this, do you think Braveheart would kick ass in Game of Thrones? Read our fan-fic!

Women’s Rights


Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

Rog’s youngest daughter Carrie is seen wearing a pro-choice t-shirt in Lethal Weapon 3. Go on, girlfriend!

Safe Sex


Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

Some see Rianne appearing in a condom commercial as a way for cops to rag on Rog.

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Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

“Rubbers in my desk, rubbers in my coffee, rubbers, rubbers, rubbers...”, but it’s all part of an education against disease and unwanted pregnancy.

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Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

Plus, Rianne looks so good in the commercial it made us want to buy rubbers.

Domestic Terrorism


Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

The opening of Lethal Weapon 3 and 4 both feature crazy people hell-bent on destroying America. In LW 3 a bomb goes off in a building leveling a city block.

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Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

Strangely enough, there’s no other mention of the bomb with the exception of Riggs and Murtaugh getting busted down to foot patrol.

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Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

In LW 4 there’s a guy in armor with a gun and flamethrower causing crap in the streets for no particular reason. Apart from them teasing Rog about dancing in his underwear, there’s no mention of this either. This is another reason LW 3 and 4 are lame. In the first two, at least the opening sequences set the story for the film--Amanda Hunsaker jumping out the window and the South Africans losing a trunk full of Krugerrands. (Unfortunately, lazy filmmaking isn’t a social issue so this doesn’t get its own call-out on the list.)

Gun Control


Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

You’d think movies that feature so much gunplay would be pro-guns. Not so! LW 3 confronts the armor piercing bullet issue but LW 4 prominently features anti-NRA posters advocating a ban on assault weapons.

Diplomatic Immunity


Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

There’s nothing worse than people coming to our country, committing crimes--be it murder or parking anywhere they please--and getting away with it. “Deep-low-maatic e-mune-it-AAA,” as Arjen Rudd arrogantly exclaimed.

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Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

Lucky for us Rog is in the business of revoking it with his peacemaker.

Interracial Harmony


Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

Even though Riggs is white and Murtaugh is black, at no point is race an issue. They’ve both got enough problems--Riggs being crazy and Murtaugh getting too old for this shit--to be bothered by something as trivial as color. This movie did what To Kill a Mockingbird only dreamed of!

Get The Lethal Weapon Collection [Blu-ray] now!

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