L.A. cop Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson), whose wife has recently died, is a loose cannon with a seeming death wish. This makes him indispensable in collaring dangerous criminals, but a liability to any potential partners. Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover), a conservative family man who wants to stay alive for his upcoming 50th birthday, is partnered with Riggs. As Riggs gets to know Murtaugh and his family, he begins to mellow, though his insistence on using guerilla tactics to catch criminals is still (put mildly) above and beyond the call of duty. The main villain is The General (Mitchell Ryan), a drug dealer responsible for the death of the daughter of one of Murtaugh's oldest friends. The General is also in charge of a deadly, militia-like gang of smugglers. Adding fuel to the fire is The General's chief henchman, played with all stops out by Gary Busey. Moviegoers familiar only with the relatively tongue-in-cheek Lethal Weapon sequels may be amazed to find out how dangerous and unpredictable Riggs is in the first Lethal Weapon -- and how likely it seems that Murtaugh might not survive until fade-out time.
by Hal Erickson synopsis