Rene Russo

Lethal Weapon 4 (1998) - Richard Donner

OKAY ACTION MOVIE 65/100

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

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

Studio:
Silver Pictures & Doshudo Productions

Distributed by: 
Warner Bros. Pictures

Release date: 
July 10, 1998

Running time: 
127 minutes

Country: 
United States

Language: 
English

Budget: 
$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?

Lethal Weapon 3 (1992) - Richard Donner

PRETTY GOOD ACTION MOVIE 79/100

Lethal Weapon 3 (79)

Not the best of the franchise, but not the worst.

Directed by:
Richard Donner

Produced by:
Richard Donner & Joel Silver

Screenplay by:
Jeffrey Boam & Robert Mark Kamen

Story by:
Jeffrey Boam

Starring:
Mel Gibson,
Danny Glover,
Joe Pesci,
Rene Russo and
Stuart Wilson

Studios:
Silver Pictures
Warner Bros.

Release date:
May 15, 1992

Running time:
118 minutes

Country:
United States

Language:
English

Budget :
$35 million

Box office:
$321.7 million

Lethal Weapon 3 is an action comedy film from 1992. Director Richard Donner has returned along with screenwriter, Jeffrey Boam. Danny Glover and Mel Gibson are back as Riggs and Murtaugh. Our favorite destructive comedic cop duo. Joe Pesci makes a return as Leo Getz, now a family friend to the Murtaugh family, and Rene Russo makes her appearance as Internal Affairs agent, Lorna Cole. The love interest for Riggs. It’s not a film that fared as well as the previous entries, but it had a lot of heart. I loved this one as a kid, so I hope it holds up!

Roger Murtaugh is only eight days away from retirement. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to be an easy eight days. His partner Riggs ends up destroying a building and getting them both busted down to beat cops. Then they stumble onto a chase with some dangerous criminals that happen to be using new, lethal “cop-killer” bullets. The leader of the criminals is a former police Lieutenant that has some dirty cops on the force. Riggs and Murtaugh are reinstated to detectives and then paired with Internal Affairs agent Lorna Cole. The love interest of Martin Riggs.

In usual Lethal Weapon tradition we are treated to jaw-jacking between Riggs and Murtaugh, an awesome car-chase through Los Angeles, a housing development used as an action background, range shooting, Riggs popping his shoulder back into place and various other tropes from the franchise. It also boasts a long run-time of 118 minutes. The longest of the franchise to that point. It would be surpassed by Lethal Weapon 4, clocking in at 127 minutes.

Mel Gibson is the saving grace of the picture, his comedic performance is great. It’s always funny to see him muscling down his Australian accent. His Martin Riggs character appears to be tired, but Rene Russo is a good pairing for him. I enjoyed her action scenes just as much as Gibson’s. I didn’t care much for the villain, Jack Travis. He wasn’t memorable. But the ending fight scene between Riggs and Travis is a high-point in this production.

The filmmakers had been a bit too ambitious with Lethal Weapon 3. It felt like they had intended to amp up the main elements in the franchise, but ended up cramming too much into one package. The film goes on far too long and begins dragging about half-way through. While I had a great time watching the further adventures of Riggs & Murtaugh, I could have done with a tighter and more trimmed storyline that still provided the same amount of entertainment as the second film. Lethal Weapon 3 is still entertaining, but you can mark this as start of the decline of the series. Interestingly enough, wikipedia lists the late Carrie Fisher as a script doctor. Seven stars.