Lethal Weapon is an american action-comedy franchise written by Shane Black and directed by Richard Donner. The series stars Mel Gibson and Danny Glover who play LAPD Detectives Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh as they fight crime and have a good comedic repartee . At the time of me writing this article, there have been 4 films as well as a TV series we won’t be discussing due to it being a reboot. To belatedly celebrate the 30th anniversary of this franchise back in March, here is a review of all 4 films in the Lethal Weapon franchise. For reference, our rating scale here at Comic Fade is out of 10 Jeff Goldblum’s and I shall be applying this to each of the Lethal Weapon films.
Let’s start at the beginning, Lethal Weapon. This movie is amazing and it hits all the right notes. We’ve got memorable characters that go through a definite arc, most notably Riggs overcoming his suicidal tendencies. They are memorable characters because of how distinct they are, specifically the strict family man Murtough and the lovably insane Riggs. The best drama within this movie comes from the conflicts in their personalities and how they play off one another. Another aspect that is great about this movie is it’s action, high speed chases, shooting, martial arts, torture, wild stunts, and that it is all without any of the fast editing shaky cam format that most modern action films use. Without that in the way, you get a nice clear view of intense action that actually looks gritty and real. My only real gripe with the film is that the film’s villain and his motivations are very forgettable. Overall the movie is well paced, well edited, brilliantly acted, brilliantly written, and fantastically directed. I give it 9/10 Goldblums.
Lethal Weapon 2
Now onto the first sequel, Lethal Weapon 2. While this one had a more memorable villain and even better action, it also had what I believe to be one of the most obnoxious comedic relief characters ever conceived. Enter Leo Gettz, as played by the great Joe Pesci, an ever annoying character who never shuts up, not in a comedic manner, no there is not one funny thing said by Pesci in this movie, making him just a nuisance in my eyes. This time around, Riggs and Murtaugh aren’t struggling with their friendship, instead between the 2 years of the release of Lethal Weapon and Lethal Weapon 2, they seem to have become very good friends, while at the same time not changing in the slightest, which is very realistic amongst friends. The ending is a bit lackluster however it’s still enjoyable. I rate this one, a solid 7.5/10 Goldblums.
Lethal Weapon 3
Usually the third time’s the charm, right? Enter Lethal Weapon 3, the antithesis of that theory. Everything about this movie is either nonsensical, ham-fisted, or stolen from one of the first two. Part of my problem with this movie is that they throw a third cop into the Riggs/Murtaugh mix, and she’s a woman, so of course, they had to make her a romantic interest for Riggs. So what to do with Murtagh? Well instead of him playing a central role in the movie, he’s sidelined, for a ridiculously contrived reason that can only be seen to be believed. But as soon as he comes back into the mix, they do the most predictable thing ever, because the writers of this movie couldn’t handle writing a trio that was comically and dramatically interesting, they sideline her till 4, in which they sideline her even more. In my opinion the action gets much better, but the humor, well that gets painfully bad. Overall Riggs, Murtough, and the action is still enjoyable whilst the story surrounding them sadly drags this movie down to a lower point than previously seen for this franchise before now. In conclusion, I give this film 6/10 Goldblums.
Lethal Weapon 4
This is undeniably the worst of the franchise. This movie takes everything bad about 3 and amplifies it to new levels, partially because Chris Rock plays a detective who is engaged to Murtaugh’s daughter, and partially because we still somehow have Pesci in this one. Having Pesci and Rock in the same movie was not a clever idea to say the least. I’m saying this because there are multiple scenes of the two trying to screech each other out, and it gets aggravating very quickly. This movie is way too comical, half the “humor” comes from pregnancy jokes and casual racism, and not in a dark comedy sort of way, or how in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia uses that style of humor, it’s just legitimately racist towards Jews and Asians. The villain is bland and onenote, which is especially disappointing because he’s played by action giant, Jet Li. The action however is still top notch despite all that, but there is much less of it this time around. Yet again, Riggs and Murtaugh have great camaraderie however they are the only positives in this disjointed, racist, and unfunny blob of a movie, I give it 4/10 Goldblums.
Written by: Kyle Sivits – @TheWriterGeek