Lethal Weapon 4 (1998)

lethal weapon 4 IMDb

Ah, finally the last Lethal Weapon film (fingers crossed), and the only one I had previously seen! Of course, I don’t remember it at all. But why would I? This movie is best enjoyed by those familiar with the series. If you have no previous affection towards Riggs and Murtaugh, you probably won’t care about Lethal Weapon 4. One could also argue that you might not even care if you’d watched the first three movies. LW4 is an obvious cash grab and a lot less fun than any of the previous installments.

Lethal Weapon 4 was clearly an attempt to capitalize on Mel Gibson’s massive popularity after starring in, directing, and producing Braveheart. The movie poster pretty much makes this obvious. Where Gibson and Danny Glover’s faces were once given pretty equal real estate, this time it’s all Gibson. It’s rather insulting to Glover, since he’s responsible for fifty percent of the success of these movies. At least he isn’t sidelined in the actual story. Murtaugh is just as integral to the plot as always, and manages to kick quite a lot of butt for an old dude…

Which is probably my biggest issue with this movie. It’s not just that Glover being so involved in the action is unrealistic. There are plenty of people pushing 60 who are more fit than I am, but come on. The guy was going to retire in the last movie. He’d at least be on desk duty by now. No, the real problem is that Lethal Weapon 3 wrapped up the series so well, that this movie feels completely tacked on. LW3 revolved around Murtaugh’s retirement, and featured scenes directly referencing the first movie, bringing everything full circle. Murtaugh’s family bringing him a birthday cake while he’s taking a bath in LW, and the same scene played out in LW3 with a retirement cake is a perfect example of this. It was great seeing everything neatly wrapped up, even knowing that Murtaugh wasn’t going to turn in his badge just yet. I didn’t need any updates on how he and Riggs were doing.

OK, so maybe you’re thinking that I only feel this way because I hate Mel Gibson and was never that into this series to begin with. Fair enough… but even Ben– a Lethal Weapon fan– doesn’t really like this movie either. He’ll probably still give it a good review, but he did state before watching this that it was by far his least favorite. So there’s that.

Rating: D

I am both happy and sad that this movie exists. The fourth Lethal Weapon film means I get to enjoy another adventure with Riggs and Murtaugh and their wacky assortment of cohorts, who are still a lot of fun. You can’t deny though that this film does not attain the same level of quality as the other three films. I thought that Lethal Weapon 3 wrapped things up so nicely, it was almost a shame to see the series continue, especially if it was not going to be as good as the first three films. I really liked the symmetry of the three films, little things like the opening scene of the first film was Murtaugh’s family greeting him in the bath on his 50th birthday and the very final scene of Lethal Weapon 3 having the same family greeting him on the day of his retirement. I liked how the third film wrapped up so well and gave Riggs and Murtaugh some closure. That being said, Lethal Weapon 4 is still a lot of fun. Mel Gibson and Danny Glover still have terrific chemistry, and both knew these roles so well by now it must have been very easy for them to slip back into them.

The fourth and final film in the Lethal Weapon franchise has Riggs (Gibson) and Murtaugh (Glover) stumbling onto a Chinese people smuggling racket. Chinese people hoping to live the American Dream are tricked into boarding a boat bound for Los Angeles, only when they arrive, they need to work off the cost of their journey, being forced into what amounts to not much more than slave labour. Obviously the very mention of the word slave hits home for someone like Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover). He will do whatever possible to end this business for good. In the meantime, both Riggs and Murtaugh are preparing for new arrivals in their family. Riggs main squeeze Lorna (Rene Russo) is pregnant and Murtuagh’s daughter Rianne (Traci Wolfe) is pregnant with his first grandchild.

Everybody returns for this sequel and for the most part, it is an entertaining film. Joe Pesci is still great as Leo Getz, now working as a private detective. Rene Russo doesn’t have much to do as the pregnant significant other of Riggs, but she does the best with what she has. A new addition to the cast is Chris Rock. He stars as Lee Butters, a police officer who has secretly married Murtaugh’s daughter. Rock was flavour of the month when this film came out, but he does an ok job here. Another flavour of the month appearing in this film is Jet Li as the main villain. He has some good moves, although it is a bit unbelievable he would have any problems dispatching the now middle aged Riggs and Murtaugh.

Lethal Weapon 4 is a decent film, although nowhere near as good as the first three. Despite this, it is still nice to see Gibson and Glover in the roles that have arguable defined their careers.

Rating: B-

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