Lethal Weapon 2 (1989) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

It was not by accident that this became a popular series of films. I think this is probably the best series in the action-adventure-humor genre. Of course, the plots and locales are more interesting in the Indiana Jones films, and the tension is more defined in the Die Hard series, but there is no series of films with more interesting characterizations, and Number 2 is an example of a sequel about as good as the original.
The filmmakers managed to put together some tremendous ingredients: 


although some of the scene is dark and filmed far from the camera, there are some clear shots of Patsy Kensit's breasts in the lovemaking scene with Mel Gibson 
 1. Mel Gibson turns in probably his most fully-rounded performance in creating Sgt Riggs, the guy who likes to bend the law by pretending he's crazy. Or maybe he is crazy. I don't mean to slight Danny Glover, or the writers, who together drew Glover's own character so close to reality that the audience gets completely sucked into it. These two roles are beautifully written and performed.

2. The cop banter is fun and realistic. In this film, Danny Glover gets deflated by his fellow policemen when his daughter's vaunted acting debut turns out to be a condom commercial. Needless to say, he gets "ribbed".

3.  The extended family consisting of Glover, his natural family, and crazy uncle Mel Gibson, is really pleasant to watch. They interact like a real family, and this provides a solid anchor for the wild over-the-top action which takes place elsewhere.

4. The bad guys are ultra-bad, in the Goldfinger mold. These South African diplomats are shameless, arrogant, ruthless, greedy racists who use their diplomatic immunity to scoff at the police.

5. The additional characters are outstanding. Once again, credit a team effort from the writers and performers. The Joe Pesci character in this film is beautifully written, but Pesci's own contribution to the characterization is absolutely perfect. This character is an inspired piece of genius. And that comment comes from a guy who is not a great Pesci fan, to say the least.

letterbox DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen letterbox, 2.35:1, as well as a full screen version

  • behind the scenes featurette

DTS/anamorphic version: DVD info from Amazon

  • widescreen anamorphic 2.35:1

  • three minutes of additional footage

many reviewers commented on a significant improvement in the image quality in this version

Scoop, slow down, you're making it sound like these are the greatest movies ever made.

Yes, you're right in that I went overboard with the positives, and ignored the fact that I still don't know what the plot is in this movie, even after seeing it about five times. It has something to go with Kruggerrands and a boatful of contraband, but I'll be damned if I know what exactly. Or care. And the film is riddled with continuity errors, if you keep track of that kind of thing. 

The plot is not what drives the vehicle. Just sit back and watch the film. This and the others in the series are virtually their own genre. Lots of over-the-top action and a cathartic finale. Plenty of genuinely funny humor. In-depth characterization from the leads and Pesci. Lots of warmth from the cop "buddies" as well as from the family. 

Lethal Action 2 also gets my vote for one of the best trailers ever made. They didn't have to introduce the characters or the premise because it was a sequel, so they hit a couple highlights, then showed the toilet falling on the car. At the moment we see the toilet, the deep voice of the announcer is saying. "This time they're not taking any crap"

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: three stars and then some. Ebert 3.5/4, Maltin 3/4

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 6.9. The first Lethal Weapon is 7.4, Lethal Weapon 3 is 6.4, Lethal Weapon 4 is 6.3 
  • With their dollars ... a smash. The strongest performer in the series. $150 million domestic box, $227 million overseas box, $75 million rental income.
  • The original Lethal Weapon only grossed $65 million!
  • Lethal Weapon 3 did $144 million USA, $175 million overseas, $80 million rentals
  • Lethal Weapon 4 did $129 million USA, and $138 million overseas, but on a bloated $140 million budget
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, Scoop says, "this film is a B-. Outstanding mass-market action/comedy". Tuna says, "It is one of those rare sequels that was excellent. The team of Mel Gibson and Danny Glover works well together, they managed a pretty good plot, some very imaginative action, and introduced Joe Pesci as an obnoxious protected witness. The most memorable scene for me is the one in which Glover is trapped on a crapper wired with a bomb. The bad guys are South African diplomats, but their diplomatic immunity, of course, doesn't slow down Gibson at all. The film is a perfect blend of humor and action. The bad guys are really bad, there are plenty of chases and stunts, and I love the decapitation by surfboard scene. For me, this is a great odd couple cop action film, every bit as good as the original, and is a C+."

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