Revenge

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 2 (1989) - Richard Donner

REALLY GOOD ACTION MOVIE 88/100

Lethal Weapon 2 (88)

One of the greatest action films of the nineteen eighties. A must watch for every action fan.

Directed by: 
Richard Donner


Produced by: Richard Donner & Joel Silver

Screenplay by:
Jeffrey Boam

Story by: 
Shane Black & Warren Murphy

Starring: 
Mel Gibson
Danny Glover
Joe Pesci
Joss Ackland
Derrick O'Connor
Patsy Kensit

Music by:
Michael Kamen
Eric Clapton
David Sanborn

Studio:
Silver Pictures

Distributed by: 
Warner Bros.

Release date: 
July 7, 1989

Running time:
114 minutes

Country:
United States

Language:
English

Budget:
$50 million

Box office:
$227.9 million

Lethal Weapon II is a buddy-cop action film from 1989, and is the second installment to the Lethal Weapon franchise. Richard Donner returns to the helm and directs with a screenplay penned by Jeffrey Boam. Screenwriter, Shane Black had originally written the film, but he left the series due to various disputes. Both Mel Gibson and Danny Glover return as our heros, Riggs & Murtaugh. With Joe Pesci brought in to help emphasise the more comedic elements of the film. We also get another amazing soundtrack that harkens back to the first Lethal Weapon film thanks to Michael Kamen, Eric Clapton, and David Sanborn. Again, yes! THAT Eric Clapton.

Our heroes are assigned to protecting an annoying federal witness, Leo Getz. However, they also get tied up in investigating Arjen Rudd, a corrupt and murderous South African politician that is hiding behind diplomatic immunity and the vienna commission. It’s extremely frustrating. We also get introduced to a clueless South African secretary that becomes the love interest to Riggs.

This sequel took everything that worked in the first movie and magnified it! The comedy, the action and the story were all improved. The addition of Joe Pesci is welcomed and his character works really well with Riggs and Murtaugh. Arjen Rudd (Joss Ackland) is a believable villain although sometimes he starts to feel like an over-the-top James Bond antagonist, a bit theatrical for my tastes. The action is huge. They had definitely ramped it up. Giant shootouts, a lot of explosions and car chases. Michael Bay would be proud. It wouldn’t be Lethal Weapon without a final showdown and this movie has a great one.

The comedy is great. It feels so comfortable and well written. Mel Gibson is always wonderful as the Martin Riggs character. Gibson’s comedy has a familiarity that feels like he could be related to you, like an uncle or older brother that gives you a well meaning funny jab. I loved the comedy. Joe Pesci is hilarious and a great addition, Mel Gibson is on top form too. Danny Glover does the usual straight man routine of Roger Murtaugh, but is involved in the hilarious and iconic toilet bomb scene. A scene that you cannot unsee.

One thing I noticed was the product placement for things like Tales from the Crypt and Subway restaurants. That kind of thing doesn’t really bother me but it's noticeable. I had a great time watching Lethal Weapon 2. It’s an amazing sequel that hits all the checkmarks. I laughed hard and appreciated the hard-hitting action. I also love how this movie keeps pace with the original. Both are intense but this is far more flushed out. It’s a prime example of a sequel surpassing the original.