Yesterday I did a review of the trailer for the upcoming CBS TV series based on the Lethal Weapon film franchise https://redmangoreviews.wordpress.com/2016/06/07/lethal-weapon-tv-series-trailer-captures-franchises-humor-action/. So I thought it would be fittingly appropriate and appropriately fitting to do a ranking of the four movies in the buddy cop action series. It was so popular that it spawned the spoof Loaded Weapon 1 (1993) but that is pretty awful so you may want to avoid it.
On to the list:
#4 Lethal Weapon 4 (1998)
The lowest ranked film on the list is the last one to come out. At first glance Lethal Weapon 4 looked promising. Lovable crazy Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) and Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) are joined by funny man Chris Rock as a cop and martial arts master Jet Li as the villain. Excitements right?
Well Li is a bit too one note – all he does is look serious, choke folks and beat people up – and is the least interesting of all the franchise’s villains. Rock tries a bit too hard to be funny and overall the humor feels forced and gimmicky. The shouting match between Rock and Joe Pesci’s Leo Getz is like nails on a chalkboard.
There are some decent action set pieces, though, and a couple of nice moments but it never goes above average.
#3 Lethal Weapon 3 (1992)
Starting to see a pattern with the numbering? Let not your heart be troubled.
The third film tries to recapture the magic of the stellar first two in the franchise and does a commendable job. Rene Russo’s Sgt Lorna Cole is a nice addition and Getz has not yet begun to wear out his welcome. Stuart Wilson’s rogue cop big bad is cool and we get some sweet gun play.
Murtaugh shooting and killing a friend of his son’s and adds a nice emotional dimension as well. A good showing by the guys if not their best work.
#2 Lethal Weapon (1987)
We are now starting to get into the good stuff. The first film in the franchise was an action fiesta.
We have Murtaugh meeting Riggs for the first time and realising this guy is nuts and borderline suicidal. But he is also a walking killing machine which comes in handy to take down some heroin smugglers including Mr Joshua (a fearsome Gary Busey back when Gary Busey was not cuckoo for cocoa puffs).
The showdown in the desert is a storm of bullets, Riggs’ torture scene is memorable and the final fight with Mr Joshua in the rain has so much testosterone it will put hair on your chest. And the ending with Riggs deciding that he does not want to kill himself anymore and seeing the friendship with Murtaugh beginning is some touching stuff. A fantastic action film with some good heart too.
#1 Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)
This is the best of the best folks. Everything works in the movie. The jokes hit, the action is thrilling, there are emotional stakes and the villains are great.
The scene where Riggs realises that South African security agent Pieter Vorstedt killed both his wife and his new love interest will rip out your heart and serve it to you on a plate. The helicopter shooting up Riggs’ home is iconic and the final conflict on the ship is brilliant. Murtaugh shooting main baddie Arjen Rudd after he declares his diplomatic immunity is one of the most memorable in my movie watching existence. Among action films this is right up there with Die Hard. A fantastic watch.
So what’s your favorite Lethal Weapon movie? What’s your favorite moment from the franchise? Feel free to comment below.
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