Lethal Weapon

  • Review Date: November 8, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 1987
  • Running Time: 110 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Mismatched cops spar in violent '80s action hit.
  • Review Date: November 8, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 1987
  • Running Time: 110 minutes

Age(i)

2
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5
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7
8
9
10
11
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17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

An argument could be made that this movie promotes teamwork, but that message is likely to get lost in all the violence, sex, and the formulaic plot structure.

Positive role models

One of the two main characters is openly suicidal; the second of the two main characters is frequently shown drinking beer and often says that he is "getting too old for this s--t."
 

Violence

Extreme violence throughout. A woman commits suicide by falling from a high floor in a high-rise building. One of the main characters openly discusses suicide with those around him and even shows his new cop partner the bullet he intends to use; this character is shown putting a gun to his forehead and then into his mouth. The two main characters -- police officers -- are sent to stop a sniper who is shown shooting at young kids. Frequent gun battles and fistfights throughout the film. A character is hung from a ceiling and tortured with electric shock; jumper cables are pressed against his body. Another character is tortured by having salt rubbed into his wounds. A house is shown blowing up. A carjacking is shown.

Sex

Early in the film, a woman is topless as she snorts cocaine and swallows pills before falling off a balcony from a high-rise building. On a video, three naked women take a shower together, and their breasts are shown. A naked man gets out of bed, and his buttocks are exposed. One of the main characters picks up a prostitute; as she makes "good time" implications, he wants to take her back to his apartment so they can watch TV together.

Language

Frequent profanity: "Ff-k," "s--t," "a--hole," "goddamn," "fag," "hell."

Consumerism

The movie features TV programs including Family Feud, Warner Bros. cartoons, and The Three Stooges.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters are shown smoking cigarettes and drinking beer throughout the movie. One of the main characters is shown intoxicated as he holds a gun to his head. Early in the film, a woman is shown snorting cocaine and swallowing pills before falling to her death from an upper floor in a high-rise. A teenage daughter is grounded because she was caught by her father smoking pot; during the movie, she argues with him about why it's OK for him to drink but not OK for her to smoke pot.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that although Lethal Weapon (which stars Mel Gibson in one of his signature roles) is considered an iconic action comedy, it has a lot of graphic violence. And, despite the comic moments, the tone is often quite serious. It treats the deaths of villains and innocent civilians in a very casual manner, as if killing bad guys is simply part of the job of being a cop. The only violence that seems to have a psychic toll is the harm done to young, attractive women. Sex is portrayed only in the context of prostitution and murder; there is female nudity (bare breasts) and a naked male backside. There is frequent profanity, including "f--k." Characters are shown smoking cigarettes and drinking beer throughout the movie. One of the main characters is shown intoxicated as he holds a gun to his head. Early in the film, a woman is shown snorting cocaine and swallowing pills before falling to her death from an upper floor in a high-rise. A character is hung from a ceiling and tortured with electric shock; jumper cables are pressed against his body. Another character is tortured by having salt rubbed into his wounds.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Upon turning 50, LA detective Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) has been assigned a new partner, the suicidal loose cannon Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson). Murtaugh, a family man, and Riggs, a widower, form the obligatory cop/buddy odd couple, bickering at first and then gradually rubbing off on one another. They are assigned to investigate the death of a prostitute who happens to be the daughter of Murtaugh's old army buddy. The men behind the crime are part of the Shadow Company, a clique of drug-dealing Vietnam veterans. After the bad guys kidnap Murtaugh's teen daughter, things get personal, and the cops are forced to play rough.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

LETHAL WEAPON is an unsubtle action movie that trades intrigue for visceral emotion. Angst hangs over much of the film. This world is populated with vengeance-crazed murderers and lonely suicides. Writer Shane Black peppers the movie with gallows humor, and veteran action director Richard Donner keeps things lean and mean, refusing to complicate the simple drug-running plot with so much as a twist.

The film caters to the audience's bloodlust, allowing us to relish Riggs' ruthless retribution by making him pay for his sins with his sanity. The violence is justified only in the sense that the bad guys are drug-running murderers and so deserve to die. Gibson excels at playing the dispenser of righteous violence and tragically flawed action hero. Lethal Weapon is suspenseful but never quite achieves the fever pitch of a Die Hard film. It is more interested in justifying violence than making the audience think.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the violence here. Do you think there's a message here amongst the carnage, or is this simply an action film and not meant to be taken seriously?

  • How is race used as a comedic device? Families may want to compare and contrast the ways in which race is presented in more recent films such as Rush Hour, Shanghai Noon, and Men in Black.

  • How does this film meet the criteria of the "buddy movie" formula so often employed in movies?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:March 6, 1987
DVD release date:March 25, 1997
Cast:Danny Glover, Gary Busey, Mel Gibson
Director:Richard Donner
Studio:Warner Bros.
Genre:Action/Adventure
Topics:Sports and martial arts, Friendship
Run time:110 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:Restricted

This review of Lethal Weapon was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written byDr3w November 9, 2011
AGE
18
QUALITY
 

Seriously people?

So, let's see... Fourteen year olds would be ok seeing a film that involves topless prostitutes, bloody violence, and f-bomb lobbing. Just saying that makes me shudder... Who decides this stuff? Ridiculous! I watched an edited copy of this film, and that would be the only way I would ever let a fourteen year old see it! This is rated R! Common Sense Media is mistaken in thinking that this is PG-13. Stop thinking of reasons to justify this film because it's not as bad as some other R-rated film. Bad is bad. There will always be something worse, so stop comparing!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Kid, 11 years old September 10, 2011
AGE
18
QUALITY
 

not for kids under 18

i think this movie is 18+. do not let any of your under 18- children see it please. it has alot of violence. i wont see it again myself either
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written byDisneyFan April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 

Great Movie, Not For Kids

I love this movie, but I'm pretty sure it's actually rated "R" and not "PG-13". I think it is one of the finest action/cop buddy movie around, but certainly not for kids. There is no way that a child could comprehend the anguish that is felt by a man who has lost his wife and wants to kill himself, or the loss of an adult child to a murder. This movie is very well acted and exciting, but needs to be watched by adults only.

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