We have a home run. The fourth Lethal Weapon film is just as entertaining as its predecessors, making this easily the most consistently good action quadrilogy I’ve ever seen. The downside is that none of it feels serious at all, but the actors, especially Gibson and Glover, stay true to their decade-old characters and provide a satisfying conclusion to this beloved series.
The film starts in a tense moment between Riggs, Murtaugh and a psychopath with a flamethrower and an AK-47. During a shootout, Riggs learns that he is soon to be a father, as Lorna is pregnant, whilst Murtaugh simultaneously finds out he’s to be a grandfather; his daughter Rianne is pregnant. Riggs instructs Murtaugh to take off his clothes and run about flapping his arms like a bird, in order to distract the assailant so he can shoot the valve on the gas canister. This causes a chain reaction: the psycho flies across the road, into a gas truck which explodes, flying high into the air and landing on Riggs’ and Murtaugh’s car. Murtaugh begins to laugh, and asks Riggs if he thinks the arm-flapping helped, to which Riggs replies “No! I just wanted to see if you’d do it!” And so the fun begins.
There’s a difference, however: near the beginning of the film, our heroes discover a multitude of illegal Chinese immigrants being forced into slave labour. One of the antagonists in this film is played by Jet Li; my previous experience with the actor has been a sour one, namely with shoddy films like The One and The Expendables. Fortunately, his speaking role is kept to a minimum, and his martial arts to a maximum. His henchmen are also quite skilful in hand-to-hand combat. This is the difference: Lethal Weapon 4 is a sort-of martial arts film.
To continue the trend of picking up an extra protagonist in each movie, our cast list now includes comedian Chris Rock as Lee Butters, a police detective who is secretly married to Rianne, causing some humorous tension between himself and Murtaugh. While he is adequate in this movie, I do wonder why Rock was chosen for the part; there must have been at least a hundred better candidates. One scene has Chris Rock mouthing off about cell phones in a monologue that must take at least two minutes, clearly an excerpt or a deleted segment from his live material. We get it, you’re a comedian! Move on.
For me the most impressive scene is the harrowing, high-speed car chase near the centre of the movie, which involves a punch-up in a moving house, and Riggs skating across the freeway on an overturned table. It’s nail-bitingly tense, and actually looks really dangerous. I cannot see how the movie makers could keep them safe in those scenarios. Watch below!
The Lethal Weapon series has brought me over a week of high-octane action, blended with real human comedy, and it’s wonderful to see the series end on such a high-note. While a part of me wishes there was a fifth film, I cannot imagine that Gibson and Glover could return to their roles after all this time and really pull it off, so I’m happy to see the series end here. Four magical films, a real cinematic success.