Perhaps 80's action films were all self-aware? Beginning as a rather reflective police procedural, the action and logic soon jump into ludicrous speed in a manner that seems purposeful and reflexive: a comment on the American Banal, allowing regular joes an outlet to blow shtuff up. The use of sound - always commenting on the characters - seems to point this way. It's practically magical realism for working stiffs.
Time has not been nice to Lethal Weapon. While Lethal Weapon may have written the book on buddy-cop flicks, besides the chemistry between Gibson and Glover, there is nothing special here. I was underwhelmed almost at every turn. Sure, times have changed, but as the contrivances grow and any sense of beleivability dwindles away, you're left with a mediocre bang-bang shoot em' up that is not interesting or substantial.
An almost perfect action movie with a good story and interesting characters played by good actors. The actions scenes are old school and carries emotional weight instead of flashy CGI-trickery and the chemistry between Glover and Gibson is also a success factor. For a 30 year old movie this one has aged gracefully and still outguns the current competition.
Richad Donner directed Superman, The Omen, and the Lethal Weapon movies. Any director that succeeds as much he did in such diverse genres, and whose films provide demonstrate such a strong influence on Hollywood films today requires study, respect, and a reevaluation.