LETHAL WEAPON 4 (1998) 

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Mel Gibson
Danny Glover
Rene Russo
Joe Pesci
Chris Rock
Jet Li
Steve Kahan
Kim Chan
Darlene Love
Traci Wolfe

Richard Donner



Time: 127 mins.
Rating: R
Genre: Action/Comedy

I have to admit I wasn't very excited to see this film. I am a fan of the series, but I didn't expect much of the fourth installment. Some laughs, some explosions and Mel being his crazy-ass self. Well, that's exactly what they deliver and though it's nothing new, sometimes it's good enough to be familiar. I didn't really care about the plot. The reasons the bad guys are bad doesn't really matter in these films. They are interchangable and just the foils for Riggs and Murtough's relationship to bounce off of...and they give them the reason to blow things up. Everything including the kitchen sink gets destroyed in this installment, which I must admit is getting old. It's always Murtough's stuff too. If I were his wife I would have divorced him years before on the grounds of emotional distress. How many times can you rebuild your house?

In any case, they accidently get dragged into the middle of a Chinese smuggling scam. All our friends are back – Joe Pesci as Leo Getts, the Captain, the department shrink, and Gibson's newfound love from LW3, Rene Russo as internal affairs officer Lorna. There's some new blood mainly in the form of Chris Rock. He's an interesting choice since he's not exactly a great actor, but he does add a freshness to the comedy and a new dimension to the Gibson/Glover relationship that works better than it should. They let him rant on a bit too much in certain scenes, like a mini-standup routine, but he's funny it's not as irritating as it could have been. The women are back to their traditional action movie chick roles. Lorna and Murtough's daughter are pregnant and about to give birth at any time. Like they had to make them more vulnerable. Russo tries to hold her own, but she's not really given much to do. Her one fight scene was just completely unbelievable. She's nine months pregnant and fighting hand to hand with a Chinese bad guy – and winning. I don't think so. I don't care how well-trained you are or in how good a shape. You're not going to jeopardize the health of your baby or be able to move like that. But they had to show how "tough" she still is. Whatever. She is the only woman who was not a straight victim, so I guess that's something, right?

Lorna Cole: "What happened last night?"
Martin Riggs: "Oh, gunfight, explosions, sharks, you know, the usual."

Gibson, Glover and Rock put the pressure on the bad guys, almost get killed several times and eventually wind up underarmed in the middle of gun battle between two very pissed off factions. Gibson ends up shooting the brother of the main bad guy, played by Jet Li (who kicks more than he talks in this film), and he and Glover end up taking him on mano-e-mano. Though he's a fabulous martial artist and really pissed that they killed his brother after he expended a lot of time and energy to get him there from China, I doubt he could beat these two men to the pulp he does and still stand. It goes without saying that he doesn't survive (the taxpayers in these films must be very happy since none of the bad guys ever lives long enough to be prosecuted), but the way he's finally killed is ridiculous. I think having a steel rod shoved through your stomach and pulled on from either side would be enough pain to incapacitate anybody, even a Triad killer.

Then to have to finish him off underwater with a machine gun that just happens to be at the bottom of the bay is just plain silly. It was night. There's no way Gibson could have seen that gun or anything else. Then to have concrete fall on Gibson and trap him underwater until Glover rescues him just in time because he "heard" Gibson calling him is even worse. Why they did that I have no idea. I think getting the crap beaten out of them for ten minutes was all the jeopardy I needed Gibson and Glover to be in. The fact that Gibson survives a beating like none I've ever seen to almost die by drowning under concrete is insulting. I don't need to care for him any more than I obviously do. I paid $7.50 to see him again for the fourth time. Don't jerk my chain. In the end all of the subplots are settled (who the father of Reanne's baby is, where Murtough is getting his extra money, will Riggs and Lorna marry), the babies are born and everyone's happy and out of danger...at least for now. If you like this series, this is pretty standard fare, but it's still fun, which even I couldn't believe.

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