Because Joel Silver, producer of Lethal Weapon and now Die Hard, said so. De Souza later told Dazed Digital that “one of our producers, Joel Silver, had made Lethal Weapon the previous year, which was also set during the holiday, and he had decided he liked all his movies to take place at Christmas, as they would then very likely be played on television every December, and we would all get residual checks. Obviously, he was right!”
The aesthetic argument made between Die Hard die hards and Lethal Weapon fans thus plays out like the world’s dumbest tennis match. “Die Hard takes place at a Christmas party, Lethal Weapon can take place whenever!” one party might say. “Lethal Weapon opens up at a Christmas tree lot being used as a front for drugs, Die Hard could take place at any corporate event!” shoots back the other. “‘Christmas in Hollis’ isn’t a Christmas song!” The argument persists until both sides are simply hurling insults at Mel Gibson and Bruce Willis, for obvious reasons.
There are some similar themes in both movies, yet we’d argue the redemption story for Gibson’s Martin Riggs carries much more weight than John McClane overcoming adversity and marital stress, and it’s the renewal of Riggs that makes Lethal Weapon the superior Christmas film. McClane overcomes being kind of a misogynist jerk threatened by his wife’s growing career; Riggs finds a reason to live and overcomes PTSD, loss, and loneliness thanks to his unwilling and unlikely partner: Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover).
A Lot of People Have Problems During the Silly Season
Martin Riggs wants to die at the beginning of Lethal Weapon. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. Riggs is a dead man walking, everyone around him knows it. He lives in a trailer on the beach, watches The Three Stooges on a crappy little TV, drinks heavily, and, every so often, puts a specific bullet into the revolver he keeps under his pillow and tries to convince himself that it’s time to pull the trigger.
This is something Riggs has done before we ever meet him, but it’s more than suicidal ideation in the film. Throughout Lethal Weapon, Riggs is established as a guy who is willing to do the craziest stuff imaginable to stop the suspect in front of him. The movie opens with him doing a Three Stooges eye poke to heroin dealers, then running through a tree lot during a gun battle. Later in the movie, he handcuffs himself to a suicide jumper, determined to make the guy bring him down with him. Even when it’s just Riggs paired with unwilling partner Roger Murtaugh, it’s clear that Riggs isn’t acting crazy to get a pension. When confronted, he takes Murtaugh’s offered gun and puts it against his head, philosophizing about why it’s better to shoot yourself through the mouth and to use a hollow point bullet for maximum effectiveness. Murtaugh blinks first; Riggs is someone eager to die, so long as he goes out on his own terms.
The only thing that keeps Riggs getting up in the morning is the job. It’s Murtaugh’s misfortune that he’s got a head case riding shotgun. The two men are polar opposites, aside from their shared service in Vietnam. Riggs is young and white, Murtaugh is old and Black. Riggs is a friendless loner who never recovered after his wife’s tragic death; Murtaugh is a married man with a loving family. Everything Riggs owns fits in a ramshackle trailer; Mutaugh has a big house in the suburbs and a fishing boat. Both men are counting down the days. Riggs is counting down the days until he dies, and Murtaugh is counting down the days until he’s free to enjoy retirement with a house full of loved ones.
Source: Den of Geek