Can I just say that Shane Black (author of The Last Boy Scout, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and all the other bad LW films) created an incredible staple of the cop buddy genre with this movie.
[Although, I think To Live and Die L.A. might be my favorite of the 80s.]
Yes. 48 Hours invented the genre, but Shane Black made them really crunchy and gritty. If you look past some the bad directing, you'll see very grim characters, with no real agendas and foibles.
The only writer who does this better is Andrew Kevin Miller (writer of Se7en, 8MM, and the Ambush). Say what you want about 8MM, the writing was top-notch.
Sidenote, I got to do the graphic design for the 8MM and 8MM 2 Double Feature amray. Talk about your tangents.Shane Black also wrote The Long Kiss Goodnight, which would have been great if Renny Harlin hadn't been involved.
Lethal Weapon is really really good. In my opinion, it's Gibson and Glover's best work (ignoring for a moment, that it's not Glover that makes To Sleep with Anger such a good movie). In fact, Glover is more important to this movie, than Gibson. Certainly Mel's "get beat-up" routine is prevalent and gritty. In fact, the final fight is fantastic. But. Glover knows how to read his lines. Donner's not a good enough director to get that kind of material out of people. It's Glover who mutters and talks under his breath. It's Glover who brings so many signature stylings to the series. And it's Glover who stays in Character through all four movies, no matter how ridiculous the dialog gets.
The question remains, does Lethal Weapon stand up to the test of time. The others don't, but I don't have an answer to this question at the moment.