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Lethal Weapon 4

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Lethal Weapon 4

Starring: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover
Director: Richard Donner
Rated: R
RunTime: 127 Minutes
Release Date: July 1998
Genres: Action, Comedy

*Also starring: Joe Pesci, Rene Russo, Chris Rock, Jet Li, Steve Kahan, Kim Chan, Darlene Love, Traci Wolfe

Review by Walter Frith
2½ stars out of 4

'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 there.

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 abyss.

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

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