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Lethal Weapon 2
1989 - R - 108 Mins.
Director: Richard Donner
Producer: Richard Donner, Joel Silver
Written By: Shane Black
Starring: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Joe Pesci, Derrick O'Connor, Patsy Kensit
Review by: John Ulmer
   
"Lethal Weapon 2" is the type of sequel you don't screw with, for fear of getting seriously beat up if you do. Luckily the praise comes as easily as the film is good -- and boy, is it good.

If you haven't seen "Lethal Weapon" (1987), get off your computer, drop that Cheez-It out of your hand, rush to your closest video outlet and buy it. If you have seen it, then drop that Cheez-It out of your hand, rush to your closest video outlet and buy the sequel, "Lethal Weapon 2." It's a real ball-breaker, a bruiser, the type of film where the heroes get beat up mercilessly but when they get mad, boy are they mad, and they tear apart everything in their path that is standing in their way. There's a particular shoot-out scene aboard a docked ship where Riggs (Mel Gibson) goes on a rampage and really kicks butt with a vengeance.

But I think I'm getting ahead of myself.

The film opens with a high-speed car chase on a freeway in Downtown LA. Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) are in hot pursuit, tearing up Murtaugh's wife's brand-new car as they chase the speeder through an underground tunnel, up a bridge, and so on and so forth.

When they finally catch the speeder they find African gold hidden in the back of his truck. Soon they are being threatened to stay off of the case by African diplomats, one of whom Riggs really enjoys annoying. They can't arrest them because of diplomatic immunity, so Riggs goes in and shoots up the place where they're staying.

Riggs finds himself a new girl (Patsy Kensit), while Murtaugh protects a federal witness named Leo Getz (Joe Pesci), a lovable little blabbermouth who likes being one of the cops. He waddles around throughout the film like a little eager puppy, ready to do anything he's told. Of course Riggs and Murtaugh pick on him throughout the movie, but their friendship is a sort of love-to-hate, explained in "Lethal Weapon 4" (1997).

What a hard action movie/sequel this is. I had heard nothing very positive about this movie until right before I saw it. I sat down, watched it directly after I watched "Lethal Weapon," and realized just how great of a sequel it really is. It's not repetitive -- it continues the character progression and friendship seen at the end of "Lethal Weapon," while at the same time adding a bit more humor than the first film.

One of the things I praise about the first "Lethal Weapon" movie is that the characters didn't just suddenly agree to like each other at the end of the movie like so many films. They gradually learned to trust each other throughout the film, adding a sense of true friendship and realism to the film. In "Lethal Weapon 2," the friendship between Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh is definitely expanded more to the point where they're best buddies. Most of the time when there is a sequel to a cop-buddy film, the directors and writers are afraid to continue the friendship. They seem to forget the end of the original film, and in the second film the characters hate each other again and the progress of friendship starts all over again. (As seen in such films as "Another 48 Hrs.")

But "Lethal Weapon 2" is brave -- it isn't afraid to continue the story. I think that might be part of what makes it such a great, well-rounded series. It never really repeats itself, it always seems eager to move forward and ignore the past. The first film was a humorous, hard cop-buddy film about two opposites learning to trust each other. The second movie is a continuation of their friendship. The third film is almost a full-out comedy. And the fourth film is a tribute to the first three. Darn good filmmaking here.

"Lethal Weapon 2" is quite possibly one of the best sequels of all time. It avoids repetitions, it avoids cop-buddy cliches, and when it all comes down to it, Mel Gibson and Danny Glover and Joe Pesci are such an amazing trio, that even if this film did follow the routine procedures I'd still love it. And you can't say that about many movies.
 
Movie Guru Rating
An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant. An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant. An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant. An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant. An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant.
  4.5 out of 5 stars

 
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