Written by Shane Black, Warren Murphy, and Jeffrey Boam
Directed by Richard Donner
Of all the films in the Lethal Weapon franchise, the second one is the story that seems the most out of place. That’s not to say it isn’t a lot of fun to watch. It’s just that if I were to play One of these things is not like the others… this is the film I would think of immediately.
Mel Gibson and Danny Glover are back as two police officers that are an unlikely combination. As Roger Murtaugh, Glover represents the sedate family man nearing retirement. He must crave some excitement still, however, as he remains partnered with Mel Gibson’s Martin Riggs. Riggs lost his wife in a tragic car accident and hasn’t been quite the same since, taking chances and pushing the limits of police conduct.
Right from the beginning, we’re treated to a car chase in the station wagon belonging to Murtaugh’s wife. When the car they are pursuing crashes into a mirror and lamp store, their suspect escapes. However, in the vehicle, they find a fortune in gold coins.
What they have stumbled onto is an elaborate case involving South African diplomats, drug trafficking, laundered money, cop killing, and a squirrelly man named Leo Getz (portrayed by Joe Pesci).
Lethal Weapon 2 is a great action flick. There’s plenty of shooting and car chases as well as falls out of hotel windows. We see more of the police force in action with other cops rounding out the cast and participating in some excellent sequences. It’s a movie where the story is there to link the action sequences together, which will be the case for the remaining movies in the series.
This seems to be the outsider in the series of movies for a variety of reasons. It did find a niche demonizing white South Africans and their government, especially in lieu of the loss of the Soviets and Communists as villains right around this time. Although it does introduce the recurring character Leo Getz, who is seen in the subsequent films in the series, it loses some of the edge it had in the first film. There is definitely more comedy in Lethal Weapon 2 than in its predecessor. The side story of Roger’s daughter Rianne (portrayed by Traci Wolfe) and her appearance in a condom commercial as well as her new boyfriend adds to the comedy.
I much preferred the evil Mr. Joshua of the first movie to “Adolph” (portrayed by Derrick O’Connor) here. I felt all of the villains missed the mark and didn’t have the same sense of invincibility and danger. The audience is supposed to hate them because they are South African, rather than really building the characters into something more than one-dimensional villains. Joss Ackland does a fine job as the diplomat who knows he can’t be touched and is comforted by that invincibility, using it to his advantage. However, he doesn’t seem to have the depth that Mitch Ryan did in the first film.
There are some nice character-developing moments in Lethal Weapon 2. As the friendship between Murtaugh and Riggs has grown, we see Riggs more comfortable with Roger’s family. Riggs opens up a bit to Roger’s wife Trish (portrayed again by Darlene Love) about the circumstances surrounding his wife’s death. He also has his first romance following her death with one of the diplomatic secretaries, Rika (portrayed by Patsy Kensit). However, the storyline with his wife’s death and what or who was really behind her “accident” has one explanation in this film, and then still another in the one that follows this.
All of the actors are wonderful in Lethal Weapon 2. Their performances are strong, and at the same time, they seem relaxed and comfortable. Mel Gibson and Danny Glover have a confidence in their characters which lets them have some fun and not have the same dark side the first film had between them. The addition of Joe Pesci just relaxes everything even more, although there are moments that really stretch the concept of suspending disbelief. I mean, if you are protecting a witness, why would you leave him outside in a car by himself while you sit inside on a computer? It’s not like Riggs was going to be in and out really quick. However, that’s a weakness in the plot, not in the acting, and it’s not the actors’ fault they can’t pull something like this off believably. The three actors do seem to share a genuine likeability and chemistry.
The DVD is somewhat lacking as well. All of the special features, with the exception of the featurette, are in slideshow format, rather than fluid. There’s nothing here that really says I should own this rather than just taking advantage of it when the movie is on cable.
Lethal Weapon 2 is worth watching, even if it’s not the strongest film in the series. There are many weaknesses, but overall the film is a lot of fun. The addition of Joe Pesci’s character is a fantastic move that just serves to strengthen the core group of characters going forward.
” Cast Profiles
” The Director’s Chair
” The Producer’s Office
” The Murtaugh Women
” Behind the Scenes
” Musical Notes
” The Writer’s Desk
” Stunts and Action Featurette
” Theatrical Trailer
Previous film in the series (link): Lethal Weapon
Categories: Movie Reviews