'Lethal Weapon 4' is the film Mel Gibson said he would never do. Never
say never. With a pay cheque of 20 million dollars and a guarantee of
20 per cent of the film's earnings, "never" is a word the isn't found in
Mel's vocabulary. This is a film made for one reason and one reason
only: pure profit! That is always the case with sequels but in the
case of Warner Brothers, it is particularly a show of desperation since
they have had a number of flops recently and need a hit badly. I don't
have a problem with movie sequels because in many ways, they're
equivalent to visiting an old friend as you come back for more and more
fun each time.
'Lethal Weapon 4' isn't a terrible movie, it's just one too many and the
franchise is starting to show one thing: AGE! Mel Gibson, Danny Glover,
Joe Pesci and Rene Russo are all starting to show signs of aging. Not
too badly but in comparison to the other films: a lot.
As 'Lethal Weapon 4' opens, the streets of L.A. are once again
endangered, this time by a psychotic, protected with body armor who
fires automatic rounds and shots from a flame-thrower in any direction
he pleases. Riggs and Murtaugh (Gibson and Glover) eventually put a
stop to his antics with humourous results and the film move forward from
The central plot of 'Lethal Weapon 4' is an immigrant smuggling ring run
by an old Asian warlord whose right hand man (Jet Li) is a cool and
frightening martial arts expert who silences his enemies by putting his
moves on them.
Some of the immigrants brought to America are to work as slaves and
Murtaugh takes a family under his wing and has them live at home with
his wife and children as a way of understanding how slavery affected his
ancestors. All the while illegal but definitely the humane thing to do.
Riggs and his girlfriend Lorna (Rene Russo) are expecting a baby any day
now, as is Murtaugh's daughter who is married to a cop (Chris Rock), a
man who works with Riggs and Murtaugh and a man Murtaugh doesn't know is
married to his daughter because she was afraid to tell him since he was
always against her marrying a cop. Murtaugh later finds out about his
new son-in-law while getting high on some dentist's laughing gas and the
humour is what has always saved these movies from falling into the
This movie certainly stays within the tradition of slick action movies
with the key emphasis being on the word "slick". The slickest and best
installment of all the 'Lethal Weapon' movies is #2 which had the most
bruising story and climax of all. It also introduced us to Joe Pesci as
Leo Getz who became the comic relief of the series and although his
character was badly used in #3, he is better this time around.
Director Richard Donner keeps the movie alive with well photographed and
edited scenes of action and ranks as one of the action genre's most
talented contributors. I'll probably put 'Lethal Weapon 4' in my video
collection for the sake of uniting it with other members of its family
but I'll probably watch it the least as it is the least of all the
'Lethal Weapon' movies, without hesitation.
Copyright © 1998 Walter Frith