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Lethal Weapon 4

Year: 1998
Studio: Warner Bros
Director: Richard Donner
Producer: Richard Donner/Joel SIlver
Writer: Jonathan Lemkin/Alfred Gough/Miles Millar/Channing Gibson/Shane Black
Cast: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Rene Russo, Chris Rock, Joe Pesci, Jet Li

My only desire to see this movie was to be a Lethal Weapon completist rather than any desire to see the movie itself. The series casts a considerable shadow over the action genre and created/galvanized the subgenre of buddy cop action comedy that we've seen everywhere from Shanghai Noon to Cop Out.

The series had already morphed into high comedy with some action scenes after the more serious drama action of the first Lethal Weapon, which displayed Riggs (Gibson) as a bemulleted basket case on the verge of suicide, not the wise-cracking loverboy he is here.

And if you weren't sure of producer Silver or director Donner's comic intentions, they've peppered the supporting cast with comic roles, from Chris Rock as cop Butters who's married Murtaugh's (Glover) daughter in secret (knowing how protective he is) to doofus attorney Leo (Pesci). I can't remember now I look back what Pesci's character even had to do with the plot other than comic relief, and Rock was only obliquely related.

The background plot deals with a criminal Chinese gang and their fearsome and deadly leader (Li, doing what he does best – fighting and not talking), but the script figures we love the characters of Riggs and Murtaugh so much we don't mind spending just as much time watching then grapple with personal crises like aging and commitment.

Despite being made in the late 90s, it's an institution firmly anchored in the 80s, and each successive film in the franchise felt less relevant than the one before.

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