Mel Gibson as Martin Riggs, gradually less-crazy LAPD detective
Los Angeles, Christmas 1987
Film: Lethal Weapon
Release Date: March 6, 1987
Director: Richard Donner
Costume Designer: Mary Malin
After spending a few days with the suicidal Martin Riggs, we begin to see a less crazy side of him as he warms to his partnership with the older and more stoic
Danny Glover Roger Murtaugh. No longer does Riggs need to be classified as the titular “lethal weapon”, as he concerns himself more with solving the case and getting revenge on L.A.’s murderers than with putting himself out of his misery.
The day begins normally enough, with Riggs showing up at Murtaugh’s bedside with a fresh cup of coffee and ideas about a lead in their case. They head off to the pistol range, where Riggs shows Murtaugh a thing or two that only the sort of guys who would sleep with their 9 mm under their pillow could do.
What’d He Wear?
Riggs spent the first half of the film in a gray unstructured blazer and jeans, which I appropriately covered at Christmas time. The day after he is partnered with Murtaugh, he shows up at the man’s house in a khaki jacket, blue shirt, and jeans. He will rotate through a couple jackets during the events of the day.
Riggs’ first jacket is a khaki casual field jacket with self-faced shirt-style collars and five light brown buttons down the front. The waist is slightly suppressed with elastic sides, but Riggs wears the coat open so the effect on the jacket’s fit isn’t immediately evident. Each cuff has one light brown button to close, but Riggs wears the cuff buttons undone.
The jacket has a large storm flaps that extends across the back and down onto both the right and left chest, with buttons on the front and back to fasten it into place. The hip pockets have square flaps with two concealed buttons under each flap to close the pocket.
This khaki jacket appears to be lightweight canvas, a smart choice for an action-oriented man spending Christmas in L.A., where the temperature is typically in the 60s in December, which is just cool enough to necessitate a light jacket… which also helps conceal a sidearm.
Riggs evidently abandons the khaki jacket after the bombing of Dixie’s house, now wearing a red-orange waterproof jacket over the rest of the outfit. This jacket has a large brown leather collar and a double snap/zip front with a brass zipper. The cuffs have matching snaps, but – like the previous jacket – Riggs doesn’t bother to fasten them.
This coat has reinforced elbows, best seen when Riggs is shooting at Gary Busey’s helicopter. There are also two flapped hip pockets which close with two silver metal snaps on each of the large square flaps.
Underneath both jackets, Riggs wears a blue cotton utility shirt. It buttons down the front placket with large silver faux-metal buttons, but Riggs ignores the first few buttons at the top to reveal his undershirt. The shirt’s long sleeves are rolled up past his elbow. There are two chest pockets with button-down flaps; the buttons match the silver buttons down the front of the shirt.
Riggs’ undershirt is the same off-white henley he wore the day before. This shirt has short sleeves that stretch down to his elbows and three large buttons, although Riggs only fastens the bottom button.
Riggs wears a different pair of jeans than we’re used to seeing. Previously he had worn a light blue wash; these jeans are a rich medium blue denim. Like the earlier pair, they are straight-leg and fit snugly over his boots.
Both in spirit and in texture, Riggs nicely matches his boots to his belt, his usual brown leather ranger belt with a brass buckle in the front. He clips his LAPD detective’s badge to the left side during his investigation.
Again, Riggs wears a pair of cowboy-style Tony Lama leather boots with raised heels, fitting for his reputation as a “cowboy cop”. He likely wears the same white GoldToe® tube socks with the boots as Riggs is a creature of habit.
Riggs’ accessories are consistent with the day before, wearing his gold double-ridged wedding band to honor his deceased wife and the all-black watch on his right wrist. The watch is possibly a TAG Heuer – Riggs’ watch of choice in Lethal Weapon 2 and Lethal Weapon 3 – but we would need some confirmation before definitely calling it.
Update: Apparently, we’ve been able to call it! Ryan, a commentor on another Lethal Weapon post, is able to state with 99% certainty that Riggs’ watch is a TAG Heuer Formula One 383.513/1 in a black fiberglass case with a black dial, mineral crystal, and black plastic strap that fastens with a silver-toned buckle. This PVD midsize quartz watch retailed for $195 in 1991.
Riggs also adds a pair of very ’80s black plastic-rimmed sunglasses with brown gradient lenses, clipping them to his undershirt when he’s not wearing them.
For the nighttime drive-by shooting, Riggs dons both his plain dark blue baseball cap from the previous day and a gray bulletproof vest, concealed under his shirt and jacket.
The vest is a wise choice since Riggs is shotgunned that night by Gary Busey… and would you even want to be shotgunned by anyone else?
Go Big or Go Home
The Riggs-Murtaugh dynamic had grown from antagonization to warmth by the end of the first day, bonding over getting shot at and Darlene Love’s poor cooking. Instead of Murtaugh realizing “you’re really crazy” every five minutes, the two now share an open exchange of ideas, bantering about a potential theory involving a hooker named Dixie’s role in their murder case:
Murtaugh: That’s pretty fucking thin.
Riggs: That’s very thin.
Murtaugh: What the hell, thin’s my middle name.
Riggs: (fires off a few rounds) Your wife’s cooking, I’m not surprised.
Murtaugh: What? What?
Murtaugh: Remarks like that will not get you invited to Christmas dinner.
Riggs: My luck’s changing for the better every day.
The two decide to follow Riggs’ lead and head to Dixie’s house, which promptly explodes after a Busey-placed bomb was set underneath it.
The friendship is summarized by the two’s exchange after the house-bombing.
Murtaugh: Pretty thin, huh?
How to Get the Look
Martin Riggs layers his clothing for action, never knowing how many explosions or gunfights his day will bring. If you’re the sort of person who spends your day visiting bombed houses or shooting at helicopters, you should take a few tips from Riggs.
- Khaki lightweight canvas jacket with shirt-style collar, 5-button front, 1-button cuffs, flapped hip pockets with concealed buttons, and a large button-down storm flap across the rear and front sides
- Red-orange waterproof jacket with brown leather collar, snap/zip front, single snap cuffs, flapped hip pockets with silver metal snaps, and reinforced elbows
- Blue cotton utility shirt with silver faux-metal buttons down front placket, rolled-up sleeves, two button-flapped chest pockets
- Off-white henley short-sleeve undershirt with 3-button top
- Medium blue denim straight leg jeans
- Brown leather Western ranger belt with a brass buckle and trim
- Brown leather Tony Lama cowboy boots with raised heels
- White GoldToe® calf socks
- TAG Heuer Formula One 383.513/1 black fiberglass-cased wristwatch with mineral crystal, black dial, and black plastic strap
- Gold double-ridged wedding ring
- Black plastic-framed sunglasses with brown gradient lenses
- Dark blue baseball cap with a blackened patch
Riggs’ Beretta 92F is back, getting plenty of screen time as he and Murtaugh take their case deeper. It’s clear that Riggs is very attached to the pistol, as Murtaugh suspects:
Murtaugh: What do you do, sleep with that thing under your pillow?
Riggs: I would if I slept.
At the range, Murtaugh tries to show off by sending a single .357 round dead center through the target’s head. He’s a good shooter, but Riggs takes it a step further. Without a word, he steps into the booth, sends the target all the way down to the end, and pops off seven shots, the whole time coolly humming the 1930 hit song “Fine and Dandy”. When Riggs returns the target, he shows Murtaugh his work – seven extra holes in the target, having drawn a happy face around Murtaugh’s single shot.
“Have a nice day,” Riggs quips.
Many firearm enthusiasts have pointed out that Gibson’s flinching is uncharacteristic for Riggs, the supposedly expert marskman who had “done a guy” from 1000 yards away in Laos. Either way, the moment is one of the defining scenes of the series.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Buy the series… and make sure you get the Director’s Cut.
Riggs: The guy who shot me! The same albino jackrabbit son of a bitch who did Hunsacker.
Murtaugh: You sure?
Riggs: Yeah, I’m sure man. I never forget an asshole.