No Christmas is complete without at least one viewing of the opening scene of Lethal Weapon, in which the happy melody of Jingle Bell Rock fades into the vision of a coked-out, topless Amanda Hunsaker preparing to pay for all the sins of 80s excess with one perfectly executed swan-dive off a high-rise balcony and onto the waiting windshield of a car below. I won't be so brash as to call it the best scene in the entire Lethal canon -- the 'death by surfboard' sequence in Lethal Weapon 2 is tough to beat -- but it's certainly up there, and fun for the whole family. It's also one of several Christmas-focused scenes throughout the film, another favorite of which would be the coke-deal gone bad in the Christmas tree lot, with Martin Riggs unwisely revealing himself as a cop to the bad guys before he has the drop on them -- what is he, suicidal or something? -- and then getting into a full-blown gunfight with several hoods amongst all those pine needles.

Lethal Weapon has some similarities with another Christmas classic, Gremlins, in that it draws a lot of its negative energy from the idea that if your life sucks, it's going to suck a lot worse during the holidays. The film's most resonating scene -- the one for which a set trailer reportedly had to be ready-made at all times for whenever Mel Gibson felt like he could act the scene -- comes with Riggs being overcome by the absence of his recently-deceased wife (those South African bastards) and putting a hollow-point bullet into his 9mm and putting the 9mm in his mouth. Just as he's about to depress the trigger, you can hear Bugs Bunny shouting Christmas tidings on the television opposite, and it looks like it's all over. It's easy to overlook how good the acting is here -- Mel is really firing on all cylinders in the scene. I have no idea if he's ever done a DVD commentary for the film, but if he has I'd probably want to listen to hear what he has to say about that scene.

categories Features, Cinematical