Martin Riggs (Gibson) is crazy. He's also a police sergeant whose suicidal tendencies and disregard for life make him the ideal partener for easy going (by the book) cop Roger Murtaugh (Glover). Close to retirement, Murtaugh wants an easy life, but Riggs has other, more life-threatening, drug-ring busting ideas.
On the evidence of '80s movies, it seems the LAPD has found it impossible to partner just two likeminded cops. Every pairing adheres to the cliché that opposites (eventually) attract. Weve had rookies and vets, weve had men and women, weve had comedians and hobos, tall and short, black and white. Murtaugh and Riggs are at least a variation on most of these themes. Murtaugh is the archetypal middle class black boy-made-good cop who is looking forward to retirement and the obligatory seafaring yacht that that entails. Riggs, who lost his wife in a car crash, is a certifiable psycho, jumping off buildings with potential suicides, taking drugs to infiltrate drug dealers, shooting first and thinking much, much later.
This cannot be said of the film, whose style rarely comes at the cost of substance in a well-woven web of murder, corruption, and fine one-liners. The cross-generational, cross-cultural jokes work well, and its hard not to feel for the convincingly geriatric Danny Glover. Gibson, too, wins us over in a tour de force of twitches, sniffs and trigger-happy enthusiasm.
The script is sharp, the stunts are first class, and the formula cant fail. The only question is, how many sequels can they extract from it?
The pace never slows, the jokes never miss and the stunts never disappoint in this macho-dream of an actioner.