This fourth entry showed effort and delivered some spectacular car chases, some funny jokes, a loaded cast, and resulted in a fun-fulled adventure, although not as prominent as the first two.
After the initial trilogy “Lethal Weapon” was a solidified franchise in Hollywood. Years had passed and all assumed the series was dormant. That was until the summer of 1998 when Warner Brothers decided to take one more shot at cashing in on the adventures of Riggs, Murtaugh, and the recognizable name.
With an inflated budget of $140 million dollars, the success of the film would be vital. The cast was expanded; Gibson, Glover, Pesci and Russo all returned to their roles. Chris Rock was cast as added comedic value and american audiences were introduced to Jet Li who played the role of nemesis to Riggs and Murtaugh.
The years have taken their toll on Riggs and Murtaugh, the days of their partnership on the force are dwindling down as Murtaugh nears retirement. While out fishing they mistakenly get in the way of a boat controlled by the Chinese Triads with a cargo-load full of immigrants that will be used for a counterfeiting ring the Triads are completing. The older detectives will meet their match in Triad boss Wah Sing Ku (Li) who will stop at nothing to get his brother out of prison.
There is no denying this fourth entry in the franchise boasted all you want from an action film, but it was the few elements it missed that seemed to make it a very entertaining adventure but still lacking the cop-drama intensity of the “Lethal Weapon” name. There are plenty of laughs, great car chases that were excellently choreographed and shot with masterful cinematography, that have you on edge. It is clearly high-budget material and without question it is fun to watch the stunt-work.
Sure Riggs has matured over the years and I can understand the character continuing to develop, but a toned-down Riggs did not add to the script what his younger counterpart did. But the direction his role took in this one was also intriguing as he embraced his upcoming fatherhood. While it was fun to see their characters aging it also felt like the script asked too much of their characters. The stunt doubles were decent but the camera-work that was so great in the major action sequences seemed to be missing in other scenes where it was clearly visible that it was not the actors themselves.
This one was still fun to sit back and watch. Everything in this film worked out pretty good, the story-line was ambitious and despite the loaded cast each of them seemed to have their place in the course of the main story-line, as well as with the addition of some good subplots. Pesci and Rock added some laughs and as usual Gibson and Glover had their moments. Jet Li was great in the action scenes but his character seemed to lack some intimidation, mostly through generic development.
Also the combination of him and the older Gibson and Glover was hard to see as a viable good-guy/bad-guy confrontation. Regardless, the scenes delivered their intensity and with some good choreography the filmmakers were able to blend the marital-arts of Li and the bruising tactics of Gibson’s characters very effectively.
Overall the ambition and effort put into this film were clearly visible and despite maybe packing a larger punch in a more serious film, they still translated to fun. I enjoyed the familiar cast seeming to embrace closing their character arcs. There seemed to be no limit to the grand scope of the action-sequences, and added with some good writing, this fourth installment in the franchise is still worth a watch.
Time: 127 min
MPAA Rating: R (For violence and language)