matt lynch’s review published on Letterboxd :
a few quick things on a movie i have been overthinking for 25 years.
i love that it's largely Murtaugh's story. he's the main character; Riggs is inflicted on him. Roger's never a mystery to us and Riggs is entirely unpredictable, not just the titular lethal weapon, duh, but truly an unstable danger. it's hard to remember that this collection of what would become laughable tropes was itself a response to same. it's like if someone with a DSM-IV and a shitty attitude got a look at Paul Kersey. throw in Roger & Martin's (vaguely implied) shared but vastly different experiences of Vietnam and you got yourself a stew.
speaking of Vietnam, the villains are also notably not street punk dope dealers but efficient, militarized killers, almost corporatized, and vets themselves. like Riggs, disenfranchised socially and alienated psychologically, nowhere to direct their skill set but into further clandestine aggression. the kinds of guys Michael Mann might say "get down for recreation".
just for fun: there's a sudden character death lifted entirely from THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, which at the time this was written (it's in Black's early drafts) and produced had yet to begin its path to canonization at the '87 NYFF. i wonder if anyone noticed back then.