Movies of 1987 Bracket Game: Lethal Weapon Vs. The Untouchables
As we move into a new year, it’s a Le Blog tradition to spend the month of January looking back at the movies of the past. Yep, the bracket games are back. For the next couple of weeks, we’ll be pairing up movies from thirty years ago to pick the reader’s favorite flick from 1987. I think you will all agree when you see the line-up that it was a pretty solid year with enduring entries in many different genres.
Before we get to today’s match, I will address some notable movies that didn’t make the cut. Believe it or not, the highest grossing movie of the year was Three Men and a Baby. Ordinarily, I tend to give the biggest movie of the year a pass to the brackets, but I felt there were other movies that were more deserving. Three Men and a Baby was a surprisingly big hit, but I don’t think many would argue it has stood the test of time. This is also why I did not include other box office hits like Beverly Hills Cop II, The Secret of My Success, Stakeout and The Witches of Eastwick. Believe it or not, Stakeout actually outgrossed Lethal Weapon. Box office performance is only a piece of the puzzle.
By the same token, I also omitted Best Picture winner The Last Emperor. Bernardo Bertolucci won Best Director for his epic biopic, but The Last Emperor isn’t a movie readers are likely to have a strong emotional attachment to. When you look back at your favorite movies of the era, I don’t think Emperor comes to mind for most of us. For me, the toughest cut of all was probably Broadcast News. I’m a big fan of James L. Brooks’ workplace romcom, but for whatever reason Broadcast News has been forgotten by many.
I also considered Evil Dead 2, The Living Daylights, Adventures in Babysitting and Near Dark. 1987 had a deep roster of good movies to choose from and unfortunately there just wasn’t enough room for everything. If one of your favorites didn’t make the cut, I apologize in advance. With that out of the way, let’s take a look at the 16 movies I chose to represent the year:
I will be the first to admit, some of these pairings are not a natural fit. Some of them just got mashed together out of necessity. I was tempted to pair Lost Boys with Near Dark for a vampire bracket, but it would have meant dropping something like Dirty Dancing. Overall, I tried to include a mix of genres which sometimes meant sacrificing pairs.
We’re starting things off with a couple of action movies. Lethal Weapon didn’t invent the buddy cop movie. But it launched a movie franchise that came to define it. Shane Black’s original script was darker than the sequels that followed. Over the course of three more movies, director Richard Donner guided the series into more comedic territory. In the first installment, Mel Gibson’s Martin Riggs is legitimately suicidal. Having nothing to lose makes him a loose cannon. In the sequels, he transforms into a goofball.
Lethal Weapon wasn’t Mel Gibson’s first American movie. But it was the one that made him a star. That’s even more true of Kevin Costner and The Untouchables. Costner had been in Hollywood for most of the decade. His character was famously cut from The Big Chill. Lawrence Kasdan tried to make it up to him with a meaty role in Silverado, but most audiences had never heard of Kevin Costner when he played Eliot Ness in Brian De Palma’s gangster drama.
The Untouchables finally won Sean Connery an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Since leaving the James Bond series, Connery’s career had floundered. His Oscar-winning performance kicked off one of the most impressive comebacks in movie history. The impressive cast also included Robert De Niro as Al Capone and a then-unknown Andy García.
While both Lethal Weapon and The Untouchables are arguably action flicks, they are dramatically different. De Palma’s movie was a biopic which was nominated for four Academy Awards. Lethal Weapon was a violent rush of adrenaline that raised the stakes for action movies to follow. Both movies were well-liked by critics and audiences. Thirty years later, which movie do you prefer?
Posted on January 2, 2017, in Bracket Game, Movies and tagged 1987, brian de palma, Danny Glover, Kevin Costner, lethal weapon, Mel Gibson, Richard Donner, Sean Connery, The Untouchables. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.