Synopsis: Reimagining the hit movie franchise, personality-clashing cops Riggs and Murtaugh, work a crime-ridden beat in modern-day Los Angeles.
As a great lover of the original Lethal Weapon franchise, I expected this reboot – another in a long line of reboots that no one really asked for – to be a predictable and uninspired procedural, with a collection of likable characters that had nothing on their previous incarnations. And I was right.
Although they’re obviously talented actors who have perfectly entertaining natural chemistry together, Clayne Crawford’s Martin Riggs is missing the raw, erratic, and truly unhinged edge that Gibson’s had, while Damon Wayan’s Roger Murtaugh has none of Danny Glover’s bone-deep exasperation or incredibly genuine earnestness.
They each bring their own, updated flair to the character though, so it might have been forgivable – but the show gives them basically nothing to work with. Like the movies, Riggs is an abrasive ex-military sniper turned cop, who becomes desperately reckless and closed off after his wife is killed by a mack truck on her way to the hospital to deliver their first child (geez).
Wanting to die, but unwilling to do it by his own hand lest his late wife be “ashamed” of him, Riggs instead does things like drink heavily, not eat or shower, insult armed bank robbers to their faces, and stop for pizza while sauntering out of buildings that are about to explode, all in the hopes that something or someone will kill him and end his grief.
Also like the films, Murtaugh is an aging cop and devoted family man, who’s recently had a heart attack. He plays by the rules so he can make it home at night and retire in peace, and is generally a little jumpy, for fear of something terrible happening to him. Unlike Riggs’ hard knock, guns first posturing, Murtaugh is cautious, preferring to circle back around to a problem rather than charge it like a bull – but that doesn’t mean he’s not a brave and dedicated cop.
It’s unclear why, given their histories and recent re-entrance into the LAPD, these two would be tossed together, but, naturally, they are. Despite their chemistry, which is easy and earnest, very little actually happens in their pilot episode.
They are tasked to solve a suicide which they both agree is actually a murder, and end up fighting cartel members with crowbars in a warehouse, and leading a car chase that – somehow – ends up on the track of the actual, Indy Grand Prix, while it’s in progress. Although I suppose there’s something to be said for jumping the shark less than 20 minutes into the entire run of your show.
After getting in trouble with the Brass, they manage to solve the murder and save a kid’s life, after Murtaugh’s quick thinking stops Riggs from having to sacrifice himself to reveal the location of a sniper. To Riggs’ disappointment. In the end they admit respect for each other, and agree to continue as partners.
The only real moments of heart in the whole episode are those with the Murtaugh family, who are sweet and funny and flawed and clearly happy. They welcome Riggs into their home easily, giving him the first sense of family or belonging he’s had since losing his wife.
It’s believable and emotional, especially a touching moment where Riggs is left alone with the Murtaugh’s new baby. Symbolically, the baby was an unexpected pregnancy, born around the same time Rigg’s son would have been, and, Murtaugh apparently had his heart attack while already at the hospital for baby reasons, and probably wouldn’t have survived had he been anywhere else.
The camaraderie and avenues for character development are there, but the pilot episode offered no insight to any characters whatsoever beyond the two leads, despite the lightning-fast introductions of a plethora of potentially interesting people, and also set up not a single thing in the vein of overarching storylines. What is this show about other than Riggs and Murtaugh being vaguely annoyed at each other? There’s no bigger plotline, no villain, no motivation for anyone to be doing anything. Why should I watch again next week?
I’m not convinced this is a story that needs to be told again, certainly not exactly the way it was before. It’s charming, but it’s not good enough in its own right, or different enough from its source material to warrant a full-scale network drama (could’ve made them ladies, I’m just saying). They could have called it something else and I wouldn’t have known the difference. The original movies are close to my heart though, so, if only for the sake of nostalgia, I truly hope the show finds some kind of footing.
Also, I could probably bet my next paycheck that Riggs’ wife was somehow actually murdered.