US Release Date: 07-07-1989
Directed by: Richard Donner
- Mel Gibson, as
- Martin Riggs
- Danny Glover, as
- Sergeant Roger Murtaugh
- Joe Pesci, as
- Leo Getz
- Joss Ackland, as
- Arjen Rudd
- Darlene Love, as
- Trish Murtaugh
- Traci Wolfe as
- Rianne Murtaugh
Joe Pesci as Leo Getz, Okay.
Lethal Weapon 2 takes up shortly after the first film. Riggs and Murtaugh are now best friends. Riggs spends plenty of time with Murtaugh's family. In one early scene, Riggs talks to Trish while he is cooking, and we finally find out what happened to Rigg's wife.
Lethal Weapon 2 hits the ground running with a car chase/shoot out. The first film was an action drama, with Gibson doing a great piece of acting when he wants to kill himself. This time around, action takes center stage. One of the best stunts ends with a bad guy getting killed with a propelled surf board. One of the most memorable is the bomb under the toilet scene.
Whereas the drama is played down, the jokes are played up. One funny scene has Rianne embarrassing her father with a television commercial she appears in. The best humor of the film though, comes from Joe Pesci as Getz, the annoying witness Murtaugh and Riggs are assigned to guard until some money launderers are arrested, and he can testify in court. His signature word is "okay." He seems to say it as often as he can. "Okay, okay, okay, okay, this is the best part okay?" His most memorable dialogue is his drive-thru speech, "They FUCK YOU at the drive-thru, okay?"
After an attempt on Getz's life, Riggs and Murtaugh decide to investigate the money laundering, with Getz in tow. They soon discover it involves a South African diplomat, who claims immunity from the United States judicial system. It becomes personal when fellow officers get killed and Murtaugh's family is threatened.
Whereas Lethal Weapon kept referring to Vietnam veterans, this one makes Apartheid the social issue of the day. Protestors are shown out side a South African diplomatic building several times. Glover has a scene played for laughs, where he claims he wants to immigrate to South Africa.
Lethal Weapon had the WTF fight scene. This time the WTF scene comes after Rigg's has a date with a gorgeous South African. Just after having sex in Rigg's trailer, they get shot at by a dozen men with machine guns. They arrive by helicopter, and tear his place to hell. They barely escape with their lives. The next time we see Riggs and the girl, he is dropping her off, like two kids on Prom Night. Both seem nonplused by the attack. There is a merely a passing joke made about the helicopter attack. Neither thinks they should have gone to a police station? Makes me wonder if the helicopter scene was added afterwards.
Lethal Weapon 2 is pretty much nonstop action. I, as well as my 16 year old, really enjoyed this movie, but the writing could have been tighter. One of the bad guys turns out to have killed Rigg's wife. The scene where the Diplomat gets his, is a little over the top. Still, they are minor speed bumps on an otherwise awesome ride.
Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon 2.
Eric, this installment has lots of WTF moments.
First off, WTF? Diplomatic immunity doesn't mean you can get away with murder, you'd still have to face the consequences and at a minimum you'd be expelled from the country, but more likely you'd still end up facing a trial in the USA. And along those lines, just because a diplomat buys a house in the USA, it doesn't automatically become foreign soil.
And WTF? Who is it that Riggs and Murtaugh are protecting Leo Getz from? Isn't it the South Africans? Why then do they think it's a good idea to send him into the South African embassy to distract them why Riggs sneaks in the back? And why don't the South Africans recognize him when he does?
WTF? This South African killer just happened to be the same guy who killed Riggs' wife? Really? One of the best things about the first Lethal Weapon is the fact that you honestly believe Riggs is slightly crazy and genuinely grieving for his dead wife. Having this stupid coincidence and the silly gold pen conversation just cheapens the emotional impact.
All of the cops who are killed that aren't named Murtaugh and Riggs are killed point blank. They're blown up or shot from a distance or right away. Murtaugh and Riggs though are killed by the most elaborate means. A bomb on the toilet? WTF? And did the villains in this movie go to the Dr. Evil school of assassination? “We'll just chain him up and put him under the water where we can't see him. What could go wrong? Sure we have guns and could just shoot him, but why would we do that?”
I could forgive some of these plot holes, but over the course of the movie they keep adding up until I just couldn't take them anymore. Apparently Shane Black (the writer of the first Lethal Weapon) turned in a script for this one that the Studio thought was too dark so they had it rewritten to lighten in up. I have a feeling that I would have enjoyed the original script much more. This one is far too silly.
The one good thing this movie has going for it is that once again Gibson and Glover show they have a great chemistry together. While the villain and the actual plot are weak, the small moments between Riggs and Murtaugh are great. The final scene of the two of them on the ship carries emotional weight because of how close the two characters seem. They play off of each other perfectly.
I remember enjoying this movie when it first came out and maybe my expectations were higher because of that. It is entertaining, but only in an incredibly lightweight, popcorn movie way. I far preferred the original film's darker tone. Unfortunately, the series would never again find that tone.
Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon 2.
Lethal Weapon 2 does have more humor than the original but the difference is only slight. I mean it’s not as if that first installment was trying to be Macbeth, and this movie does contain a few glimpses of emotion as well. I agree with Scott about all the WTF moments. I can overlook them though, since this is intended to be a “lightweight, popcorn movie”, meant to entertain and nothing more.
The action is more plentiful (and better) this time around. Less time is spent with Murtaugh’s family, although they manage to include a few good-natured ribs at Trish’s cooking. There is also a running gag about Roger’s daughter’s condom commercial which, for some reason, everyone finds hilarious. Like Eric, I enjoyed the addition of Joe Pesci, “Whatever you need, Leo Getz.” He makes a good comic sidekick to the two stars.
One thing I think they did better this time around was the villains. Pieter Vorstedt and Arjen Rudd are both men you love to hate. The former is a sadistic killer whom we learn not only murdered - but also tortured - Riggs’ wife, and the latter is so incredibly smug and racist that you want to cheer when Murtaugh finally puts that bullet in his brain.
The only scene I vividly remembered was the bomb under the toilet. In my memory it was tense and funny. Seeing it again it just seemed silly. The toilet doesn’t get blown to bits it just sails through the air to land on the hood of a car.
As mentioned above the best thing about this franchise is the rapport between Murtaugh and Riggs. Danny Glover and Mel Gibson are the quintessential buddy/cop team and they play to each other’s strengths well. The plots might be weak, the violence over-the-top and the actions of the villains ridiculous, but there is no denying the charisma and charm of these two.
Photos © Copyright Warner Bros. Pictures (1989)