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Sunday, 11 February 2018

Weekend TV Movie Review: Lethal Weapon 2 (1989), ITV1

Lethal Weapon 2
Cast: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Joe Pesci, Patsy Kensit, Joss Ackland
Genre: Buddy Cop Action Comedy
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $227 million 

Plot: Riggs and Murtaugh are on the trail of South African diplomats who are using their immunity to engage in criminal activities 

'Watchable, Though Second Lethal Weapon Feels Less Lethal & More Fan-Fiction Like'

A tad longer than the first movie, but lacking the magic and essence of its predecessor, this is almost like a carbon copy of Lethal Weapon, only it is stripped away of the balance of comedy, action and drama that that movie had in spades. Yet the film just about survives through the inclusion of Mel Gibson and Danny Glover's turns.

Riggs and Murtaugh are assigned to protect a witness named Leo Getz, Riggs also becomes romantically involved with one of the henchmen's girls. The film is also memorable for the toilet bomb scene involving Murtaugh. 

Some of the action scenes were watchable but uninspired and nothing that memorable to speak of, the Murtaugh and Riggs partnership remained somewhat strong (Gibson's Australian accent was still noticeable at this point, especially the scene whereas Riggs he confronts Joss Ackland's villain for the first time). But when screenwriter Jeffery Boam dedicates more screentime on the villains and less so on the protagonists, it didn't bode too well for the movie. Another thing that I didn't enjoy was when Boam decided to throw in an unnecessary storyline where Riggs falls in love with Patsy Kensit's South African character, Rika - who then gets bumped off later on. Kensit's performance was okay but Rika was as much use as a Bond girl, who 007 sleeps with and she is eventually killed.

Coupled with the annoying addition to and introduction of Leo Getz, played by Joe Pesci, who really hams it up and exists as the film's supposed comedic relief, he turns out to be an utter annoyance and he manages to drag Lethal Weapon 2 and its follow-up movies down. His arrival and reasons for existing within the story make little sense. We also learn the Rigg's girlfriend/wife who committed suicide in the first movie, was actually killed by one of the South African bad guys. Or so Boam says. Which is both untrue, inconsistent and doesn't make sense when this didn't happen in the first film. It just sounds barmy, almost resembling a fan fiction story.

The first Lethal Weapon film was great because everything was so balanced: the story, the humour, the action, the performances, the film's tone. But here, those elements, but for the action feel not only 'off', the quality that was present in that movie, wasn't as good as before. The action is definitely bolder and as entertaining - if no more elaborate than the prequel. 

In comparison to Tango & Cash, which was released in the same year as Lethal Weapon 2, through the Sly Stallone and Kurt Russell pairing captured that buddy cop onscreen presence far better than with Mel Gibson and Danny Glover, who by this point, the cracks in the Lethal Weapon series were beginning to show. Minus Shane Black's writing, any chances of character progression and development ended here and thus, was the beginning of the franchise's imminent downfall. The plot was not very engaging; the South African apartheid subplot was one I didn't care much for with practically character-less antagonists. It's interesting also to see Gibson as racially tolerant, Riggs -before Gibson became a so-called racist in real-life and it seems to be recycling the same beats as the first film, with villains that one won't remember for a long time. 

Yet much like with Lethal Weapon 4, this was watchable in places, but it wasn't by any means fantastic and the signs that the writing was on the wall for the franchise was all but cemented by 1998's unnecessary and lacklustre showing.

Final Verdict:

At best it is competent, Lethal Weapon 2 is a tad bearable than the other sequels that came after this one in what many would consider a disappointing franchise that should have led to more & better and achieved far greater things.

A curious - if flawed, though not too flawed follow-up with not enough action and more talky humour; but otherwise Mel Gibson and Danny Glover's rapport still enlighten the mood.

Contrary to the film's tagline, the magic isn't always back, but Lethal Weapon 2 still manages to have a lot left in the tank.


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