Lethal Weapon 4
What He said:
The final chapter in the Lethal Weapon series
came after the longest break in the series. That either means
the people involved really want to revisit the characters one
last time, they can’t find any other work and are falling
back on an old standby, or a little bit of both. You always
have to wonder about the quality of a sequel when it comes out
so long after the previous version and the original movie.
Sometimes it’s just hard to recapture that same magic.
This time around Riggs and Murtaugh are both facing new
issues in their lives.
Riggs (Mel Gibson) has been dating Lorna Cole (Rene Russo)
ever since they met during the events of Lethal Weapon
3 (review here). They have been together for several
years now, she is now pregnant, and they seem very happy
together. The only problem is Lorna wants to get married.
Riggs isn’t against the idea, but due to his issues moving
past his first wife – who was killed before the events of the
first movie – he is having trouble committing to the idea of
marrying someone else. He is also starting to feel his age.
Riggs has always been the muscle of the team, but he’s slowing
down, and started to notice it.
Murtaugh (Danny Glover) is the family man and doesn’t
understand why Riggs won’t simply marry Lorna. That’s the
least of his worries though, as his oldest daughter Rianne
(Traci Wolfe) is also pregnant and unmarried. Even worse,
she’s not married! It seems tame by today’s standards, but to
a man with Roger’s beliefs, it’s a big deal.
There’s also an unspoken issue between them. Riggs has
started to notice that Murtaugh has been dressing really
nicely lately. Really nicely, like too nice for a cop’s
salary. He starts to wonder if Murtaugh is “on the take”. He knows this is
impossible given Murtaugh’s family values, but he can’t help
and notice he’s carrying around some extra cash.
Oh yeah, and they are also dealing with a new case
involving smuggling Chinese immigrants into the U.S. The bad
guys in charge of the operations are Triads, an organized crime family from
China. This leads them to local crime boss “Uncle Benny”. They
think Benny is involved – and he is – but the operation is
being run by a mysterious guy from China, played by Jet Li.
This guy makes Uncle Benny look like a Kindergarten teacher.
He’s one bad dude.
Joe Pesci returns as former criminal – now turned private
investigator – Leo Getz. Chris Rock also joins the cast as
Detective Lee Butters. The two serve as the comic relief for
the movie, which is actually my biggest issue with the movie.
This franchise has always had snippets of comedy throughout.
This time around there was just something off about the
humor. It just wasn’t very funny. There were a few jokes that
made me smirk, but there were a lot that went for the big
laugh, and were simply awkward. There’s nothing worse than
something that tries so hard to be a certain way and falls
short. Pesci and Rock were pretty bad at times. Even Glover
and Gibson seemed to struggle a bit. It obviously wasn’t the
best script in the world in terms of the jokes, but the
delivery wasn’t so good either.
The movie had some decent enough action to make up for it
though. This movie served as most American’s introduction to
Jet Li. Just listen to the excitement from the crowd during this
clip. Remember what it was like to have something seem new in
movies? We’re so numb anymore, because there are not a lot of
things that come off as new or exciting. Anyway, those Kung
Fu moves were pretty new to the majority of American
I also liked that they took the action and made it a part
of Riggs’ struggle with getting older. For the first time
ever, he faced someone he couldn’t beat, and needed help
during the final confrontation. It brought a little
realism to situation. Riggs’ had been the young hotshot
throughout most of the series, but 1998 is 11 years after the
original movie. Gibson wasn’t a kid at that point. Adding that
dynamic to the character made sense to me.
The other thing I liked about the movie was seeing the
characters one more time. I grew up on these movies and
seeing them all one last time, and at a new phase in their
lives, was satisfying. The characters have turned into a
family at this point and I enjoyed seeing them one last time;
even if this isn’t the strongest movie in the series.
Diagnosis: Thumbs half up.
This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on
July 12, 2013.