TV review: Lethal Weapon, ITV
- Henry Northmore
- 20 February 2017
Unnecessary TV series based on the classic 80s action franchise
Lethal Weapon was the archetypal 80s mismatched buddy cop movie. Mel Gibson and Danny Glover sparked off each other as the wild-card-with-a-death-wish teamed up with the by-the-book, family man who was 'too old for this shit'. However, the film franchise that was a shadow of its former self by the limp fourth entry is now resurrected for an 18-part TV series with Clayne Crawford stepping into Gibson's shoes as Riggs, while Damon Wayans plays Murtaugh.
The opening five minutes hammering home why Riggs is so unhinged, whereas Murtaugh remains his polar opposite; a committed husband with a new born baby and two teenage kids. Returning to work after a heart attack, his doctors have warned him to 'avoid stress'. Cue a new partner who sends Murtaugh's heart rate monitor into over drive. After some cheeky shenanigans at a bank robbery turned hostage situation, their first real case is the suspicious suicide of an ex-marine.
It was the film that turned Gibson into a superstar (back when being a Gibson fan was far less morally dubious). Crawford gets all the best lines and manages to capture a smidgeon of his glitchy manic energy. However he's way too depressed and maudlin to really have any fun. Wayans is a fairly bland sparring partner and crucially they lack the vital chemistry that turned Lethal Weapon into an international blockbuster back in 1987.
There have been some fantastic film-to-TV adaptations in recent years (Fargo being the pick of the bunch) but action movies aren't built for backstory, there just isn't enough material to spin out over a full series. Lethal Weapon feels like it was resurrected simply to trade on brand recognition rather than creating a decent show that honours the source material. There are a few semi-decent action sequences but the cases themselves are per functionary and neatly wrapped up by the end of each episode. It's not totally terrible just completely unnecessary.
Lethal Weapon is on ITV, Fri 3 Mar, 9pm