Lethal Weapon (1987) – Mel Gibson

7/10 — Mel Gibson puts in a very strong performance. His partner Danny Glover and the rest of the cast are decidedly mediocre. The genre is a bit drama-ish, but with just about enough action to mildly entertain those who have tuned in for the action. A bit too much horror genre screaming near the end, and an over-drawn-out fight scene at the very end. Still, not a particularly bad watch. I give it 7/10. With an additional cast member close to Mel Gibson’s level of star quality, it could score higher – this is something the sequels failed to address until Lethal Weapon 4 co-starring Jet Li.

Sequels

Lethal Weapon 2 (1989) is of a very similar quality to the original Lethal Weapon (1987). Although the budget has doubled in only two years, they share the same lead cast members (Mel Gibson and Danny Glover) and have the same pros and cons including an overly drawn out fight scene near the end, a bit too much drama along the way, but good acting from Mel and plenty of good action scenes throughout.

Lethal Weapon 3 (1992) steps it up a little, with a slightly increased budget although this is barely accounting for inflation. It’s a bit more action packed and interesting from the outset, although there are still some boring drama patches, especially in the latter half, and some overly drawn out action scenes, especially near the end, plus a bit of horror genre creeping in with an unsuccessful baddie buried alive in wet cement as punishment. Still, with no amazing new cast members, it’s pretty much a standard continuation.

Lethal Weapon 4 (1998) steps it down back to the budget of the original, which considering a decade’s worth of inflation, means Lethal Weapon 4 is the lowest funded of all movies in the saga. Someone in Hollywood must have got their wired crossed, because each subsequent movie did a lot better than the one before it at the box office, and they were all very successful, so why each subsequent movie didn’t have a massive increase in budget is mind boggling – perhaps it’s got something to do with Mel’s vocalised views on Jews. The first 10 minutes of Lethal Weapon 4 are relatively boring but once it gets going it becomes quite juicy. Horror genre creeps in again with prolonged screaming while the crew are slowly burning alive in a house on fire – not ideal for cool action hero movies – the director or script writer must have a thing for the sick & twisted. There’s also a massively over drawn out fight scene near the end, as per usual, and extended drama genre after that to finish off the movie. But it’s great to see the introduction of Jet Li who plays a triad boss’s lethal brother; and Chris Rock also makes a nice addition as a young detective. Thanks to Jet Li and the Chinese theme in this movie, there’s a good amount of nice Kung Fu to enjoy here.

With consistent the same pros and cons in pretty much every movie in the Lethal Weapon series, and unique downsides offsetting unique upsides (eg, when there’s a lower than usual budget and Mel’s getting old in Lethal Weapon 4, there’s also some nice additions to the cast to balance things out)… Every movie in this saga gets a score of 7/10 from me.

If you liked the saga, you may be pleased to know there’s a 5th Lethal Weapon movie in the pipeline, although it’s been in the works for a few years now, delayed by the passing of the old director Richard Donner during pre-production in 2021. Mel Gibson personally took over the directing for Lethal Weapon 5, and he’s happy with his plans, and says the movie is still in development as of 2024, but shooting hasn’t yet begun so don’t hold your breath! Mel is fast approaching 70 years of age.