I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Lethal Weapon 2

tn_lethalweapon2“I’m really too old for this shit.”

Is it wrong that I almost like LETHAL WEAPON 2 better than part 1? I know it’s kinda formulaic and Shane Black left part way through and everything but to me it’s a really enjoyable follow-up with some great gimmicks.

It states its action-with-a-comedic-edge intent from the opening logo when it plays the Looney Tunes music with the dramatic metal title lettering. Credits forged in steel. Then it opens mid-high-speed car chase with Riggs cackling like a madman, i.e. like Riggs. We get to have our cake and eat our cake also because he hasn’t wanted to commit suicide since the end of part 1, but he’s still a nut. To underline that point we get to see him wearing a straitjacket at the police station. He takes a bet that he can’t escape from one, and is crazy enough to intentionally dislocate his shoulder to pull it off.
I noticed in part 1 that the Murtaugh family had an anti-apartheid bumper sticker on their refrigerator. That shows that they’re a politically active family in some ways, so in this one they discuss boycotting tuna (there was a big thing back then about tuna fishing nets killing dolphins), and Leo (Joe Pesci), an obnoxious mob accountant turned state’s evidence that they get assigned to protect, talks apolitically about hating tuna on his sandwich. I really think Richard Donner was trying to overall just give you a bad feeling about tuna to save the dolphins.

(time capsule moment: the tuna conversation happens at a Subway restaurant that actually has a parking lot and a drive-thru window.)

There’s also a whole subplot about Murtaugh’s daughter Rianne (Traci Wolfe) starring in a commercial that turns out to be for condoms. It’s used to humiliate Murtaugh, of course, but also it was kind of a liberal cause back then to promote safe sex and open dialogue about it.

mp_lethalweapon2I wouldn’t say everything is politics to the Murtaughs though. In one scene we can catch a glimpse of their VHS collection, all Warner Brothers releases I believe. Titles include SO FINE, a Saturday Night Live, PALE RIDER, and SOUL MAN. I mean, they can’t be that radical if they like SOUL MAN enough to own it. Maybe they bought it for research I guess.

To me the most inspired thing about the movie is that the villains are white South Africans, old politically connected guys, deeply entrenched in the apartheid system. So here we have America’s premiere interracial buddy cop team going up against the ultimate contemporary representation of racial segregation. What could be more perfect?

I never really thought about it before, but it’s interesting that other action movies of the ’80s, at least that I can think of, didn’t use white South Africans as bad guys. Here was a well-known and easy to understand example of evil in the world that would be easy to single out. But there were some people in American government, including Reagan and Cheney, who figured the South African government were okay because they were against pinkos, and action movies looked the other way too. LETHAL WEAPON 2’s villains take advantage of similar protections: their leader is an ambassador and shields his drug smuggling operation behind claims of diplomatic immunity. And it works.

While part 1 was pretty much color-blind, part 2 does a nice job of showing this topic’s personal effect on Murtaugh. When they realize the guys they’re chasing are South African (after first confusing their language on the radio for Japanese!) the first thing Riggs thinks of is how it connects to their finding a trunk full of South African currency earlier.

“South Africa, right? The home of the Krugerrand,” he says.

“Yeah, among other things,” Murtaugh adds bitterly.

Apartheid was a major injustice going on in the world, and Riggs and Murtaugh did their part to shame them for it. Riggs repeatedly taunts them with Nazi comparisons, calling their leader “Adolph” and referring to them as “the master race.” There’s a funny scene where Murtaugh pretends he wants to emigrate to South Africa, putting the guy at the embassy in the awkward position of having to advise against it. (I wonder what would’ve happened if they did that scene BORAT style at the real embassy.)

There’s other interesting stuff going on too, or at least weird stuff. Remember in the first one there was that shootout at the mansion and the guy fell into the swimming pool? It seems like somebody decided swimming pool related action was one of the keys to the success of the movie, so they continued that motif for the sequel. There’s a great scene where Riggs tackles an attempted Leo-killer out a hotel window and plummets 7 stories into a swimming pool. Later, to ambush the bad guys, he pretends to be a pool cleaner. When confronted he uses a pool cleaning net as a weapon. It would be cool if each sequel had one more pool-related scene, but I think this was it for the series. Anyway, if I was to assign a meaning to it I guess I would say that the swimming pools represent luxury. Swimming pools and pool cleaners are part of life for the rich and powerful, not for working class cops like Riggs and Murtaugh.

Another play off of what happened before: part 1 had a helicopter attack on Tom Atkins’ seaside mansion, this one has a helicopter attack on Riggs’ beachfront trailer.

There are definitely parts that aren’t great. I was kind of bothered by Riggs trashing a grocery store as a way to flirt with the South African embassy secretary (Patsy Kensit) who he ends up falling in love with. But for the most part it’s well constructed in the way I like an action movie to be. I like how the straitjacket trick sets up for his escape at the end when they tie him up and throw him in the water. They didn’t know they were dealing with Houdini, but we did. Even better, in that scene where Riggs pretends to be the pool cleaner they point out that the place couldn’t have a pool because it’s on stilts. So this has already been drawn attention to and then we forget about it long before he decides to chain his truck to the stilts and pull the whole thing down. This is a really impressive scene because it’s not a special effect. They built a full-scale house and wrecked it. I also like that he cheers for himself after he does it, like he pulled off a hail mary pass and unexpectedly won the big game.

And that’s just one of the fun action mayhem moments. There’s a guy getting his head bashed repeatedly in a car door. There’s the climax, jumping a car out of a trailer full of money (turning the villains’ loot into snow just like the end of DIE HARD). In a car crash there’s the excellent detail of a surfboard flying off of one vehicle and crashing through the window of another. And I’m particularly fond of the part where a woman bouncing on a diving board sets off a bomb. That was a definite rewind-two-or-three-times-to-see-how-the-fuck-they-did-that stunt moment. Hats off to that stunt woman.

One of the most memorable moments is when Murtaugh gets stuck on the toilet because he finds out there’s a bomb that’s gonna go off if he gets up. I knew it’s one of the most memorable moments because it says so in this vintage Warner Brothers Catalog entry:

lw2pin

Here’s more of the products that were available:

lw2catalog
Yes, those are cast members of Head of the Class selling DIRTY HARRY t-shirts. Oh yeah, and one of them was the kid that played Short Round in TEMPLE OF DOOM. The guy modelling the LW2 hat and shirt is identified as “‘Lethal Weapon 2’ stunt coordinator and Mel Gibson double Mic Rodgers.” He later directed UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: THE RETURN, the one where Van Damme is alive again and has a daughter and fights Bill Goldberg and Michael Jai White.

The toilet paper message is from the bad guys of course, but it’s another one in the tradition of Riggs’s note on the Christmas tree and McClane’s note on the dead guy who he stole the machine gun from and stuck in the elevator. The whole situation though reminds me of the opening scene of Elmore Leonard’s Freaky Deaky:

The phone must have rung fifteen times before Booker got out of the Jacuzzi, put on his green satin robe that matched the emerald pinned to his left earlobe and picked up the phone. Booker said, “Who’s this?” A woman’s voice said, “You sitting down?” The phone was on a table next to a green leather wingback chair. Booker loved green. He said, “Baby, is that you?” It sounded like his woman, Moselle. Her voice said, “Are you sitting down? You have to be sitting down for when I tell you something.” Booker said, “Baby, you sound different. What’s wrong?” He sat down in the green leather chair, frowning, working his butt around to get comfortable. The woman’s voice said, “Are you sitting down?” Booker said, “I am. I have sat the fuck down. Now you gonna talk to me, what?” Moselle’s voice said, “I’m suppose to tell you that when you get up, honey, what’s left of your ass is gonna go clear through the ceiling.

It might not be a coincidence, because that book came out the year before. But they use the idea well here. That Murtaugh is taking a shit when the shit goes down is not only toilet humor, it also works because it makes him so vulnerable. One of Murtaugh’s primary roles in these movies is to be embarrassed, and you can’t get much worse than dozens of his colleagues, including women, coming in and acting all professional while he can’t do anything and he’s on the john with his pants down. Riggs gets some laughs in but becomes protective of Murtaugh and his privacy. And against the protests of the bomb squad he insists on staying there and being the one to help Murtaugh with the escape plan, which is just to jump into the lead lined bath tub and hope it protects them from the explosion (do you hear that, CRYSTAL SKULL skeptics?) They get to have some laughs first, some gallows humor about what they’re about to do, and then they do it, and it’s the terrified-action-hero moment, like McClane jumping off the building with the hose around his waist.

But the most significant thing is that Riggs stays and they do it together. Just looking at it as a cop movie this means Riggs is tough and loyal, he believes it is his duty to try to save his partner, he’s fearless, etc. But in context of the series we know that not long ago he was suicidal and it was his friendship with Murtaugh that turned his life around. So he has no reason to worry about himself, he has to save Murtaugh or his own life turns to shit again. This is how he wants it: either he saves Murtaugh or he dies with him. This scene is about pooping, exploding, and brotherhood. Throw in some boobs and you got everything men want in a movie, am I right ladies?

I like this Leo guy’s connection with Riggs and Murtaugh. He’s kind of like the little yapping dog who follows them around, obnoxious in a way that, to me anyway, is actually pretty funny. And at the end when he says “I really had alot of fun” and goes for a hug he seems so sincere that it’s kinda sweet.

But it’s not all fun times. It’s weirdly harsh at one point. Riggs falls in love for the first time since his wife died, then (SPOILER) the bad guys kill his new lady. Almost worse, they boastfully reveal that they caused the car accident that killed his wife! It’s kind of silly to rewrite the backstory that way, but they get away with it ’cause it’s so cold-hearted. Such a mean thing to do to the hero in the middle of a mostly fun and humorous movie. “You don’t understand,” he says. “They killed ’em both.” It’s brutal.

But I guess operatic tragedy like that gives more meaning to the smaller human moments. Yeah, my favorite parts are probly the stilts coming down and the exploding diving board. But my third favorite part is a scene where Riggs just has a conversation with Murtaugh’s wife Trish (Darlene Love). He still lives in that trailer, but he spends alot of time at their house, coming over for dinner and bringing his laundry and stuff, and has become part of the family. And in this scene he tells Trish about the night his wife died, and how he found out. He’s allowing her into his life, sharing with her the worst thing that ever happened to him, and they’re becoming closer friends. I like it when an action movie tries something really heart-on-its-sleeve like this, and I like it even better when it works.


VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Monday, January 6th, 2014 at 1:12 pm and is filed under Action, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

59 Responses to “Lethal Weapon 2”

  1. Yay for this Lethal Weapon retrospective! Thanks, Vern!

  2. caruso_stalker217

    January 6th, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    The strength of these films was always the mostly-unspoken love between Riggs and Murtaugh. The exploding toilet scene is the purest example of this. They can’t come right out and admit that they love each other, but they acknowledge it. I love how this bond grows with each film.

    Also, they become corrupt as fuck as the series progresses.

  3. HOLY SHIT! I WANT A CAR, JUST TO PUT THIS SHADE BEHIND MY WINDSHIELD!

    Anyway, it always bothered me a little, how diplomatic immunity is portrayed in this (and million other TV show and) movies. Like a “Fuck you, I do what I want” card, when in reality your immunity can be revoked when you do fucked up shit like the guys in that movie. Granted, they worked for a criminal government, who probably didn’t give two shits, but still.

    But I always loved the “de-kafir-nated” pun at the end.

  4. Your third favorite scene is my first favorite scene. When Riggs opens up about the night his wife died it shows how far he’s come in his recovery; thinking about it I still get a little choked up. Also, great use of a prop to get to something emotionally vital.

    Course, it’s also cool when he kills that guy with the car door.

  5. caruso— Yes, nothing says “I love you” quite like saving a bare-assed friend from a toilet poised to explode. I did like how, shortly before that Taster’s Choice moment, Leo Getzi sneaks a peek into the bathroom, sees Riggs leaning over Murtaugh on the can, assumes he’s witnessing a blumpky, and he’s all “OK, okayokay” like he’s not passing judgement, but wants no part of it either.

    Fun movie, and it’s too bad they didn’t stop at two. The third movie blows and the fourth one (despite the big plus factor of Jet Li) is too clichéd and cuddly.

  6. What’s especially great about the scene with Darlene Love is that afterward Roger comes in and asks what they were talking about, and they’re both like, “Oh, nothing.” This was just a little moment between the two of them. Who knows if Roger ever even heard that story? It shows how much a part of the family Riggs is now.He tells her not because he needs to get it out, but because she deserves to know the man she invited into her home. Respect.

    The character stuff is awesome, and it probably has the best mix of humor and badassery in the series, but the action in this one is what really sells it. It’s just bananas. Real jumping seven stories, real mansions being pulled down, real trailers getting fucking obliterated by bullets. I remember the excellent HBO behind-the-scenes special, which was hosted by Mel as sort of an EPK/skit comedy show. (Chevy Chase has a famous cameo. “A quitter!” is a line I use to this day.) In one part, they showed all the thousands of squibs that were packed into every inch of that trailer. In the old days, they set them off with a million wires all hooked up to nails on a board. You ran a wire along the nails to set off each squib individually. You do it fast, it simulates machine gun fire. It was the coolest thing I ever saw in my life. Movie fuckin’ magic.

    One thing it took me a while to notice was that Riggs doesn’t actually kill anyone (on purpose anyway; the surfboard guy was an accident) until after his new girl and most of his friends get killed like 3/4 into the movie. He’d been trying to leave his lethal weapon days behind him, trying to be a better man, but these fuckers pushed him too far. They woke the sleeping bear. After that he’s like an animal, growling, snarling, killing without compunction. He’s emptying whole clips into dudes for no reason. Pulling motherfuckers’ houses down. Just a rip-roaring rampage of revenge like only Mel can pull off. Then at the end, you think he’s given up. He’s got like five bullets in his back, he’s been stabbed, beat up, every woman he ever loved is dead. So what’s he do? He cracks a joke and quits smoking. He’s gonna live, goddammit. Fucking inspirational.

    Great movie. Unfuckwithable.

  7. My favorite line is “But we’re only up to the fourth inning.”

    I watched this movie in AP U.S. History on my last day of high school. The class went wild at that.

  8. And I can only agree with most things said. I too somewhat like this better than the first. I love the neck cracking before the shot detail. I love the way all of the action deals with character.

    I also love the unabashed Looney Tunes direction that the series takes from here as the heart of the subsequent movies still center on the relationship between the “partners” and still advances everyone’s life instead of just retreading it.

  9. Yes, diplomatic immunity is not portrayed in the most accurate way.
    But because of that we had this also classic exchange (25 years old SPOILER AHEAD):

    RUDD: Diplomatic immunity!
    BANG!
    MURTAUGH: It’s just been revoked!

    Another beautiful thing about this movie: the end credits with George Harrison’s Cheer down.

  10. also: DEAN NORRIS.

  11. lup11 – YES! Thank you, somebody finally mentions that terrific 80s-era bluesy rocker supplied by Eric Clapton’s buddy* (and co-written with Tom Petty) which synchs up FUCKING AWESOMELY with that ending helicopter shot from the Gibson/Glover body doubles and then fly away to the harbor. Good shit.

    For a song that didn’t chart at all, Harrison seemed to really like it. Played it in his only non-charity concert album release, his estate put it on his Greatest Hits album released after his death.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6fJfXLjwxQ

    *=I’m surprised we still haven’t gotten a buddy movie about Clapton and Harrison in the late 60s/early 70s. Both best buds, sharing their guitar licks together, doing drugs and groupies together, then Clapton lusts after George’s first wife and later marries her. (The same wife that inspired George to write “Something” for her and later Clapton to make “Layla”, two undeniable classic rock love ballads from that era.)

  12. lup11: I was a little stunned to read Dean’s IMDB page. Besides this, there’s also TOTAL RECALL, TERMINATOR 2, THE FIRM, STARSHIP TROOPERS, THE NEGOTIATOR, and of course his role in LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE as the motorcycle cop.

    I love “Cheer Down”, too. Having a song in a blockbuster film fit right in with the kind of comeback George was having then between The CLOUD NINE record and the Wilburys stuff. I always thought it was strange that Eric didn’t do the song at the end himself, or at least pulled some strings to get someone in like he did here (and in 3 with Elton John and Sting, who’s songs I’d put up there with “Cheer Down” as great movie songs). It feels odd to hear what is basically dated 80’s rock after hearing two hours of that iconic guitar playing happening.

    RRA: That would make a great movie, but it’d never happen. Or if it did, it would be tame compared to the truth at best. It’s like why I understand Sacha Baron Cohen left the Freddie Mercury movie. I wouldn’t accuse the Queen guys of wanting to show a rose-tinted view of the past, but I can sense that he left because Freddie’s more outrageous adventures would have made for better film-making than the film I dread that is being made that climaxes with their Live Aid performance. In all honesty, the best movie about Freddie I could envision would be about the last few years of his life. Finding out he has AIDS, dealing with the monstrous English tabloid press basically accusing him of having it, and singing some of the best work he’s ever done.

  13. “I always thought it was strange that Eric didn’t do the song at the end OF THE FIRST LETHAL WEAPON himself, or at least pulled some strings to get someone in like he did here (and in 3 with Elton John and Sting, who’s songs I’d put up there with “Cheer Down” as great movie songs). It feels odd to hear what is basically dated 80′s rock after hearing two hours of that iconic guitar playing happening.”

    Ugh, I wish we could edit here :(

  14. onthewall2983 – Well I think its obvious WB wanted Harrison’s involvement because he was hot shit again at the time. Can’t blame them or the filmmakers. I’m sure Clapton was glad he could just play around with soundtracks on a creative level and not actually have to make an actual song with vocals and shit, which is too much like the grind of his dayjob anyway. Hell remember that Harrison himself didn’t like the grind either and was more interested in producing movies and (allegedly) banging Madonna and other stuff. Last 20 years of his life, he only produced 3 albums, the last came out after he died.

    And you’re right about the Freddie Mercury biopic. I think my biggest problem with that project more than anything else is, how the fuck can any performer capture that guy’s manic charisma on stage? Or if you’re not reusing his vocal tracks but instead having the actor sing for himself, capture the depth of Mercury’s vocal delivery? Then again Kurt Russell was pretty awesome as Elvis (dubbed by an impersonator), Joaquin Phoenix (singing himself) got an Oscar nod for Johnny Cash. I suppose it just takes the right guy and direction to pull it off. Gary Oldman was Sid Vicious. I just have trouble imagining anybody but Mercury in that part, you know?

    Its funny but to answer your question of how to handle the end of his life, its simple. You cut between two storylines. First the preparation for Live Aid where most folks would probably agree that was Mercury’s fucking Elvis comeback special moment you know his peak, and then his struggle with AIDS, recording a shitload of stuff while sitting down because he was so fucking weak. Or wear pounds of make-ups (if I remember right, it was “These are the Days of Our Lives”) to hide the effects of AIDS, filmed in black & white, and needing layers and layers of clothing so he wouldn’t be cold…even though he’s standing in front of studio lights, which are notoriously hot as fuck.

    I mean as a kid, I remember playing the shit out of “I’m Going Slightly Mad” because its such a wonky, whacktastic song, really a cool novelty track if you think about it. Then as a adult, you read meanings into the lyrics when you realize Mercury was basically writing about the dementia he was maybe suffering because of AIDS.

  15. It’s not really a question. I know how they’ll end it if they go the way I think they are. End at the climax of “We Are The Champions” and put up a graphic detailing his last years and death. But you’re right about other people doing this kind of film better than I may have given credit for. By most accounts, Oliver Stone cared very little about the truth and printed the legend of Jim Morrison in THE DOORS but I thought Val at least lived up to the performance end and some of those iconic mannerisms he had. I am also looking forward to the Miles Davis movie Don Cheadle is doing, as it’s been a real passion project of his that he built from the ground up with some members of the Davis family. I like that it’s taking a look at Miles during that 5 year period where he put down the trumpet and went headlong into excess, paranoia and isolation.

    Anyway, I didn’t mean to veer off from LETHAL WEAPON 2 so much here. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen it all the way through, though I remember quite a bit of it. It’s been on HBO so is on that wonderful Internet contraption HBO Go, so I’ll probably give it another look here soon.

  16. Not weird at all to prefer this one. That was the general feeling when it came out.

    My favorite line was “I nailed them both” because it was so obvious.

    Also thought it was interesting that the first LW was 1.85:1 but the sequels all went widescreen.

    It amused me in the TV edit, Pesci complains “They FREAK you at the drive through.”

  17. I have nothing to add sadly other than the fact that this movie came out the same year I was born, 1989 (the number, another summer), a good year to be born, I think, my only regret is that I was not old enough to see movies like Lethal Weapon 2 in theaters

    also, holy shit! I remember those weird WB catalogs! my mom had one and bought me a Bugs Bunny doll (that I still have too!), a glass Pepe Le Pew mug shaped like his head (which I guess we still have but I don’t know where) and a plastic mug shaped like Bug’s Bunny’s head

    what was the deal with that though? as awesome as it is was it’s still strange for a movie studio to have it’s own merchandise catalog, I guess that in those days every studio was trying to build a Disney like “identity”, like when Universal Studios opened that theme park

  18. Remember seeing this in the cinema in ’89 and liking it. But when I bought it on VHS and watched it the following year the funnier more, sane Riggs with the Three Stooges humour started to irritate me.

  19. I think the funniest tv edit of a profanity I have heard is “motherhugger”

  20. Most people I’ve discussed this series with have reverence and undying respect for part one, but agree that part two is just way more fun. Murtaugh at the embassy is probably the most memorable part to me. (paraphrase) “Free south africa you dumb son of a bitch!” Pretty righteous

    Also, this may not be so in Seattle, but the Subway I go to most days in between jobs has both a parking lot and a drive-thru (there are actually many in OKC that still do). Just thought you should know

  21. Jareth Cutestory

    January 7th, 2014 at 7:58 am

    Anyone remember how high the jump into the swimming pool was in HARLEY DAVIDSON & THE MARLBORO MAN? I have to figure it was at least ten storeys.

    Also, how do LETHAL WEAPON fans feel about the homage to the series in It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia? I only ask because I know a guy who loves all the LETHAL WEAPONS and was so enraged by the It’s Always Sunny version that he threw a bottle at his television. I’m kind of baffled that he saw the show as some sort of insult.

  22. I loved the Always Sunny homages. I have no idea how anyone could take them seriously enough to get upset about them though. Your buddy might have deeper problems than a TV show.

  23. Throwing the bottle at the television sounds like a LW1 homage if anything.

  24. The LETHAL WEAPON stuff is the only time that howling cacophony known as ALWAYS SUNNY has made laugh out loud, so I guess I’m okay with it.

    HARLEY & MARLEY is one of my personal favorites. It’s just such an odd little movie that has no idea what it wants to be. I have this theory that it started life as a satire about a near future in which corporatization has advanced to such a state that all private individuals are named after products, but then some big stars got involved and it got dumbed down to “LETHAL WEAPON with Mickey Rourke as Riggs and Don Johnson as Murtaugh.” wTrace elements of the original intention remain buried deep under the surface, non-essential organs an organism has evolved beyond like appendices or vestigial tails.

    I also always thought Tom Sizemore’s character should have been called Chase Manhattan. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

    Griff: 1989 was the year I fully discovered the joys of the summer movie season. That year we had BATMAN, LETHAL WEAPON 2, THE LAST CRUSADE, HONEY I SHRUNK THE KIDS, GHOSTBUSTERS II, THE ABYSS, LICENSE TO KILL… The list goes on. Not all great movies, to be sure, but all BIG movies, the kind with groundbreaking special effects and action sequences that you had to see in a theater and looked forward to for weeks ahead of time. From then on, I eagerly awaited each summer’s new crop of big-budget spectaculars the way other kids awaited football season. I liked movies before then, but ’89 was the year I became a real movie fan.

  25. Shit, and BACK TO THE FUTURE II. ’89 was ridiculous.

  26. Jareth Cutestory

    January 7th, 2014 at 9:02 am

    Not to mention BILL & TED, in the spirit of which I’ll thank you for your bodacious comments about HARLEY DAVIDSON. The film definitely carries the residue of a much stranger earlier draft. It’s almost like the film is trying to comment on action tropes but not quite sure what it wants to say.

    Also, I figure my LETHAL WEAPON buddy is just living up to his mullet. Yes, dude has a mullet; all humour and self-awareness seems to get drained away, perhaps to sustain the lion-like lustre of that mane. We’re thinking of having an intervention.

  27. BILL & TED was definitely ’89, but it wasn’t the big-ass special effects extravaganza I was talking about so I left it off the list. Also, it’s not a summer movie. Came out in February. I left TANGO & CASH off the list for the same reason.

  28. Jareth Cutestory

    January 7th, 2014 at 9:49 am

    Interesting; I just assumed BILL & TED was a summer blockbuster like GREMLINS. A buddy took me to see it when it hit the rep theaters in autumn 89. The crowd went nuts throughout the whole film, shouting out the punchlines like it was ROCKY HORROR or something. My buddy had to tell me half the dialogue because the crowd was so vocal I couldn’t hear what the characters were saying. I guess that experience distorted my idea of the film’s popularity.

    I honestly don’t remember if there were particularly elaborate special effects in BILL & TED. But I remember that Jane Wiedlin was cute as a button.

    Later that year the same buddy and I saw MEET THE FEEBLES in the same theater. It was dead quiet, like a funeral. Half the audience looked embarrassed when they left, as if we were watching porn.

    WEEKEND AT BERNIE’S was also summer 89, though obviously not a blockbuster. But of vast importance to the culture in general.

  29. 1989 was also the year of ROAD HOUSE. That’s pretty much everything you need to know about 1989.

    Yeah, Jane Weidlin was adorable. Maybe I was out of the loop in 89 (I’m pretty sure the only album I had back then was a tape of NWA’s STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON), but imagine my surprise when I decided to investigate the music of the Go-Go’s last year only to discover that she was that band’s original rhythm guitarist and a pioneering female punk rocker in her own right. The world is a big, beautiful place full of wonderful mysteries.

  30. BLACK RAIN came out in ’89, too.

  31. I remember my dad and my sister taking me to see Bill & Ted in the theaters. I was probably too young for the film, even though it’s light on ol’ sex and ultraviolence. My parents were mostly protective of what I watched at the time. I remember being kind of weirder out by the lo-fi fxs and really grossed out by Bill’s (?) implied crush on his step mom. So I guess ’89 is the year that I discovered what the incest taboo was. It wasn’t until I watched the movie many years later that I finally understood why it had become a cult classic. I’m not sure a third film is a great idea, but I also have to confess I’m curious as to what they might come up with.

    It’s interesting to see so many people claim that Lethal Weapon 2 is superior to the first film. I haven’t watched either of these movies in a long time, but from what I can remember of LW2, it’s a less focused and more episodic movie. There’s less of a drive to the plot. I’m not sure if anyone else gets this same feeling from the sequel or if my memories of the film are just off.

  32. No, it is definitely much looser and more episodic than the first one, but that’s part of its charm. It has the most divergent tone in the series, ranging from outright slapstick to the darkest moments in the franchise, yet it all hangs together perfectly. The comedy and tragedy balance each other well. I probably still slightly prefer the mean, lean economy of the original, but the second one is more emblematic of the series as a whole.

  33. I remember hearing that this movie was originally meant to end with Riggs’ death, which makes sense with all he goes through at the end, though I also saw a Danny Glover presented behind the scenes look at the franchise which showed an alternate ending where Patsy Kensit’s character was still alive(and one for the original movie where Riggs leaves LA after thanking Murtaugh for being his partner).

  34. The LW- series is so much a big part of my life the series is part of my personel cinema canon. And part of the canonization process was me watching the first two parts reccorded on a VHS tape over and over. We did not have VHS until the late 80´s. Instead we occasionally rented so called “movie boxes” where the video store rented out a tape player with tapes. So it was incredibly conveniant when we actually got a machine and play tapes recorded from TV. And like Murtaugh having a hobbyroom without a hobby there was not really that many movies I could record as we only had two television channels to choose from until the early 90´s when we had three, so I was not exactly spoiled with movie experience growing up as perhaps a lot of you did, but the movies I saw had a profound impact instead and Riggs and Murtaugh will always have a special place inside me.

    Jesus, I almost sound like my granddad when he use to go on and on about how it was when he grew up and he was perfectly happy getting an orange for christmaspresent instead of a beating. I can´t really complain.

  35. Your grandfather must have been one of those spoiled kids we used to hear about. For Christmas I was happy to get a beating instead of a worse beating. And Majestyk had to get up each morning and clean the Hudson River.

  36. I don’t know how the hell that river managed to be uphill both ways, but that’s just the way things were back then.

  37. Also, Vern – I am happy you have turned around and embraced these wonderful movies. I hope you do some more of these revision reviews. Especially HARD TARGET.

  38. The Original... Paul

    January 7th, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    If it wasn’t for Joe Pesci, I think this would easily be my favorite of the series. WITH Joe Pesci though, things become more… complicated. He’s so hateable and he takes away from the other parts of the movie that I do like.

    Overall, even Pesci can’t spoil this movie for me (although I’m damned if he doesn’t try his hardest). That toilet scene is one of those that I can practically recite from memory.

  39. Pesci certainly hightens the comedic tone to another level compared to the first one, but I think he is so good it works.LW2 has one of the best consisted, but harder to achieve, tone of action comedies of all time. The darker moments of the first one still exists because Riggs issues has not yet been resolved but still moves a bit from the grittier tone of the original. It has a weirdly excellent tone that no other movie has yet to match simply because it works so good against the originial. It is an evolvement sequel.

  40. Jesus, Paul, what other beloved characters are movie-killers for you? Han Solo? E.T.? Thumper?

  41. I bet Paul hates ALF.

  42. I only watched the LW movies because of the brutal violence. I do still quote Joe P. because my wife likes the drive-through and they always seem to fuck up my order at the drive-through. Haven’t bothered to watch any of these in a long time, but they do supply some hard core bad ass action.

  43. Pesci has a “they fuck up-” in the next two movies and has became a staple of the series. They are pretty hilarious in my opinion, especially in LW4 because it evolves into an entire big scene entirely unrelated to the plot.

  44. The Original... Paul

    January 7th, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    Leo Getz? Beloved? More like annoying “comic” character who’s not funny and won’t shut the fuck up. Are there seriously people who like this asswipe?

  45. Leo Getz is a swindler that has the unfortunate characterflaw of not being able to stand people swindling HIM. I like that.

  46. The Original... Paul

    January 7th, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    No, asswipe is being too nice. Shit-smear. That’s what he is.

    God, I fucking hate that asshole. He got better as the series went on, to the point at which he was kinda likeable in the fourth movie at least; but by that time he’d graduated from “sleazeball with delusions of grandeur / actual comic ability” to “ineffective but well-meaning reformed criminal.”

    But not in LW2. He just stank up the screen. He wasn’t funny, he wasn’t likeable, and he wouldn’t shut the hell up. Just THINKING about that obnoxious high-pitched whine of his makes me cringe. Seriously, fuck that guy.

    Majestyk – You know damn well that Han Solo is not the beloved Star Wars character that I have a problem with (and we’ll not even get into THAT argument again!)

  47. The Original... Paul

    January 7th, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    …And that’s not enough either.

    You know what Leo Getz is? He’s Joe Pesci playing Adam Sandler playing a five-year-old. Think about it.

    Leo Getz is a character with an obsessive need to be the centre of attention – like a five-year-old. He also has a five-year-old’s judgement, a five-year-old’s sense of humour, and a five-year-old’s voice. The only way I can describe it (well, not the ONLY way, but probably the BEST way) is if Joe Pesci wanted to do his most annoying impersonation of Adam Sandler voicing young Nicky in the film “Little Nicky”. After inhaling a couple of lungfuls of helium or something.

    I mean, damn it guys, if there’s ONE THING I thought I absolutely wouldn’t be “that one guy” about, it’s this character. Holy shit.

    Ok I’m done.

  48. The Original... Paul

    January 7th, 2014 at 5:27 pm

    Ok… I’m very tired, I’ve worked a ten-hour day, I’ve driven for three hours, I’ve watched a two-hour film (“All Is Lost” – I have basically nothing to say about it, Robert Redford is great but the film does absolutely nothing I haven’t seen before), and I come home to find people defending Leo Getz on the Internet. This MAY have caused me to go off on a little bit of a rant there. I apologise.

    I’m gonna get some sleep.

  49. Any five year old who’s smart enough to launder money can’t be all that bad.

  50. I sort of agree with Paul. But then again I think almost all the “humour” in the LW series stink.

  51. I would fucking kill to get a hold of one of those LW2 windshield sun protectors.
    Or at least I’d scour eBay for several minutes to try to find one.
    Either way, I’m devoting more energy to attaining a LW2 car shade today than I ever thought I would.

  52. What the FUCK is up with that poster in the review where Glover is lurking in the bottom corner under Gibson’s foot?

    Here’s a funny nothing-is-sacred LW retrospective from the other film site I frequent:

    http://www.filmfreakcentral.net/ffc/2012/08/lethal-weapon-collection-blu-ray-disc.html

    He also likes 2 more than 1.

    “If you were to mute the music on these films, they would each instantly earn an extra half-star.”

  53. The Original... Paul

    January 8th, 2014 at 6:18 pm

    Renfield – he gets extra credit for mentioning “Short Time”. A cheesy-as-hell film but one that I enjoyed a lot as a teenager.

  54. The Original... Paul

    January 8th, 2014 at 6:40 pm

    …Well it’s very well-written, and now I feel a little worse about myself for enjoying LW1, 2, and especially 4, as much as I do.

    Am I the ONLY person who thought that the scoring just worked for these movies? Or is it just the case of I grew up with them, so I’m used to them? I’m sorry guys, but if you think that this is bad, I suggest you go watch some ultra-low-budget eighties’ horror movies or something. (One of the ones with a monotone soundtrack apparently composed by letting an excitable cat loose on the keys of a cheap Taiwanese knockoff of a child’s electronic organ.) THEN come crying to me about your damn saxophones.

  55. SHORT TIME is pretty great. Not to mention has one of my favorite car chases ever.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CE2i08S3YeY

  56. Anyone know if the whole “they killed Riggs’ wife!” retcon was Shane Black’s idea or Jeffrey Boam’s? I know people rag on that plot twist now (especially because imitators have worn it into the ground) but as a kid that twist was mindblowing (then again I also loved the “Joker killed Bruce Wayne’s parents” twist in Batman that summer and everyone hates it now as well).

  57. Well that plot twist works because it doesn’t take away the impact of that death in the first film, and also it seems to fit nicely without feeling too obviously like convenient-rewriting-of-history-after-the-fact. (Like how Princess Leia remembers her mother in ROTJ, when George Lucas had planned for her to live for several years after Anakin Skywalker turns evil. But he changed his mind for ROTS…)

  58. Revenge-driven plots like that now seem a bit dated. It worked here, but it wouldn’t now because that kind of thing has been run into the ground. The last good example I can think of was on NCIS where the heinous act and the revenge itself was all backstory that was revealed bit by bit until the Gibbs character was in a coma and you saw his mind racing back to it all.

    The best way I see to do them now is if it’s the antagonist/bad guy seeking revenge. Or at best something like Aaron Eckhart in THE DARK KNIGHT, where it’s all blurry lines and part of you feels for him despite pointing a gun at a kid or shooting [REDACTED].

  59. I don’t know why I wanted to read this review now…I’ve been feeling old and nostalgic lately, getting BD’s (that’s Blu-Ray, y’all) of Die Hard, Road Warrior, and now I must have the Lethal Weapon set.
    I should be glad my parents had HBO. That’s how I saw Lethal Weapon, and this one, though I think I did see it the cinema. I somehow managed to see many R-rated movies back then, starting with Aliens. I didn’t much of a social life in the late 80s and early 90s, especially the fucking summers, so HBO was my entertainment. Tales from the Crypt, et al.
    The making-of thing for this was on HBO, and I thought it was Dan Aykroyd that had popped up?
    Up in the comments a few of you mentioned Cheer Down. Great way to end this and man that shit takes me back.
    I just now started to watch the ending on youtube – I’ve always liked Danny Glover in that scene. His affection for Riggs is so sweet, so genuine.

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