Lethal Weapon 4

Surprise, surprise; a second sequel of a second sequel that actual-
ly *works*.  Sure, it's overlong, broadly toned, and not exactly 
urgently paced, but, by golly, it delivers the glee-inducing goods 
better than any of the other summer budget-busters (so far).  Gib-
son, Glover, Pesci, and Russo reunite for a party, er, plot involv-
ing an Asian mob and a freighter-full of illegal immigrants.  (The 
big baddie is played by international action star Jet-Li.)  Also in 
the mix are a pair of pregnancies--  Murtaugh's oldest daughter has 
been knocked up by a cop, played by a funny-but-not-ferociously-so 
Chris Rock.  The catch?  No one knows that he's the dad, nor that 
they've gone and got married-- 'cept Riggs.  Heh heh heh.  As Ms. 
Russo's character is due, too, Mel is himself mulling matrimony.  
(He's finally beginning to agree with his partner that "they're 
getting too old for this shit.")  There are a few other threads to 
the plot, plus a couple of running gags and, frankly, enough comic 
asides to fill a *fifth* movie.  (Will there be one?  The sentimen-
tal closing credits suggest otherwise.)  

If you're a fan of the series-- particularly LETHAL WEAPON 2-- you 
should be good to go.  Director Dick Donner, whose helmed all four, 
doesn't stray from the formula.  Stuff indiscriminately explodes, 
collides, or collapses, and then someone cracks a joke.  Or they 
hug.  Rinse and repeat, with the occasional bit o' slapstick thrown 
in for good measure.  (Such as a dentist's office laughing gas se-
quence, of all things.)  What cinches the sale, however, is the en-
semble's effortless chemistry.  Gibson and Glover, and to a lesser 
degree Pesci and Russo, inject just enough humanity into each of 
their scenes.  (They make the movie lovable, these old friends of 
ours.)  Not that the slam-dunk set-pieces are anything to be scof-
fed at, either.  An extended freeway chase features the single fun-
niest removal-of-a-driver-from-a-moving-vehicle that I believe I've 
ever seen.  There's also an amazing Grand-Am-goes-airborne stunt 
involving the upper floors of an office building.  And a fists-of-
fury finale-- complete with underwater coda!-- worthy of the Hong 
Kong genre that inspired it.  I can't wait to see it again.  (Rated 
"R"/136 min.)

Grade: B

Copyright 1998 Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies in MOVIE HELL: July 12, 1998

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