Lethal Weapon 4 (1998) - Richard Donner


Lethal Weapon 4 (65)

The worst of the franchise clocks in at the longest. A long winded action romp pitting LAPD against Triads.

Directed by:
Richard Donner

Produced by:
Richard Donner & Joel Silver

Screenplay by:
Channing Gibson

Mel Gibson,
Danny Glover,
Joe Pesci,
Rene Russo,
Chris Rock,
Jet Li

Silver Pictures & Doshudo Productions

Distributed by: 
Warner Bros. Pictures

Release date: 
July 10, 1998

Running time: 
127 minutes

United States


$100–150 million

Box office: 
$285.4 million

Lethal Weapon 4 is an action film from 1997. Most of the usual crew had returned. Director Richard Donner, Musicians Eric Clapton, Michael Kamen and David Sanborn all return along with actors, Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Rene Russo, Joe Pesci and introduces Chris Rock and Jet Li. It’s the fourth entry to the Lethal Weapon franchise, and it happens to be the slowest paced. It’s also framed as the final entry to the series. Nostalgically capping off a tremendous action series that ran for just over a decade.

A freighter full of Chinese immigrants runs aground in Los Angeles, much to the dismay of Officers Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh. They are being imported by the Triads, who are trying to get their incarcerated crime bosses onto American soil and away from China. To make things worse, Murtaugh decides to stow an entire family of immigrants in his home. This puts the entire investigation in jeopardy. Also, Riggs and Murtaugh have to work with an annoying new detective, Lee Butters. Needless to say, our heroes can’t wait to kick some major Triad ass.

Lethal Weapon 4 visits Riggs and Murtaugh at a mature time in their lives. Roger’s daughter is pregnant, he is on the verge of becoming a grandfather. Riggs has also been told that Lorna is pregnant. Both guys have to face this turning point in their lives. That tone reflects the slower pace of the film. It still has explosions and car-chases as well as a good deal of character development. The relationship between Riggs and the Murtaughs is so comfortable and fun. It’s a pleasure to see the whole group interacting. I have fallen in love with the characters.

This wouldn’t be a Lethal Weapon movie without copious amounts of action. Over-the-Top action. Jet Li is a very convincing villain even though it's his first time playing one. His showdown with Mel Gibson is tremendous. It’s one of the highlights of the picture. The chase scene that doubles-up with a construction theme is another tremendous scene. Most scenes are really well shot, but lack substance. Thats a problem that echoes throughout. While it's fun nostalgically, it doesn’t have what it takes to make a good film.

This is supposed to be the final film in the franchise. It ends with the quote from our protagonists, “We’re not friends, We’re family!” Then we get a montage of production photos and a group shot of the entire crew. It’s a great send off, but what if they wanted to return? Would you hate it?