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Lethal Weapon 4

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 audiences.

Lethal Weapon 4

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.