Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)

31 Mar

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Smith’s Verdict: ***1/2

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

“Lethal Weapon 2” is a sequel that is just as good as the original film, “Lethal Weapon.” “Lethal Weapon” was a smartly written, well-portrayed, gripping, and action-packed buddy-cop movie and “Lethal Weapon 2” brings back the wonderful main characters, has as much intriguing action as the original, has a certain intelligence that made the original film work, and adds more comedy in a fantastic supporting character that serves as terrific comic relief.

Danny Glover and Mel Gibson are back in the saddle as the cops who are different in personality but similar in themselves. Glover returns as Sergeant Murtaugh, who may be “too old for this <bleep>,” but that doesn’t stop him from getting into more <bleep>. In the meantime, he’s a family man with retirement plans. Oh, and he isn’t too happy to know that his teenage daughter is the star of a condom commercial. Gibson returns as Riggs, who still lives in a trailer near the beach and enjoys making people think he’s crazy. He’s not as tense as he was in the original film, but that’s not saying much. The relationship between Murtaugh and Riggs remains at the center of both this film and the previous film. It’s an interesting balance of trust and irritation.

But the movie’s best character—in that he’s the funniest and most memorable—is Leo Getz (Joe Pesci), a fast-talking accountant who barely stands at five feet tall. Murtaugh and Riggs are assigned to protect him because he has found a way to swindle illegal drug money and has the dealers coming to kill him. I described him as “fast-talking,” didn’t I? Well, not only that. He never shuts up. That makes Murtaugh and Riggs’ job of protecting him a little more than they can bear.

Leo is a likable guy, though. He’s just trying to make people like him. But he tries too hard and that’s why people like Murtaugh and Riggs can’t stand him. Joe Pesci plays Leo with a great deal of enthusiasm (I love his indistinct shouts during a car chase scene) and I guess that’s why he’s so funny and leaves an impact.

The villains of the film are ruthless South African diplomats. Murtaugh and Riggs stumble onto their plot to illegally deal gold…or something like that. A weakness of the film is that I wasn’t quite sure that their plan was. But these are real villains—actual characters, and not just violent bad guys. Riggs makes them his own personal enemies—watching them like a hawk until he finally comes across at least one piece of evidence to prove what they’re doing. At one point, he makes his way into their building and shoots their fish tank. Along the way, he strikes up a relationship with Rika (Patsy Kensit), their secretary. Riggs tells Murtaugh that she reminds him of his deceased wife.

“Lethal Weapon 2” has some good action scenes, including a car chase that didn’t bore me but got me excited (that’s also the same car chase that I mentioned has Leo rambling, loudly and indistinctly). Then there’s the scene that has suspense and comedy in which Murtaugh’s toilet is booby-trapped…with Murtaugh on it, pants dropped and all. And the entire bomb squad (and some press, too) comes into the bathroom trying to save him.

Then there’s the explosive action climax that you would expect in a film like this. It features Murtaugh and Riggs fighting all the bad guys and rescuing the kidnapped Leo. It’s not as interesting as anything else in the movie, but it is still kind of exciting.

“Lethal Weapon 2” isn’t like most sequels that try to repeat the previous film to attempt to recreate whatever magic they accomplished the first time. They have the two main characters continuing their relationship while going a different, new crazy adventure. This isn’t a retread, but more of a continuation. Glover and Gibson keep their characters real and exciting, the wit is nice, the action is compelling, and of course, credit has to be given to the great comic relief delivered by Joe Pesci as the irrepressible Leo Getz. “Lethal Weapon 2” is a thoroughly entertaining movie.

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