Lethal Weapon 4 (1998) / Action-Thriller
MPAA Rated: R for violence and language
Running Time: 127 min.
Cast: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Joe Pesci, Rene Russo, Chris Rock, Jet Li
Director: Richard Donner
Screenplay: Channing Gibson
Review published July 11, 1998
LAPD Detectives Riggs (Gibson, Conspiracy Theory) and Murtaugh (Glover, The Rainmaker) are back on the streets, this time trying to bring down a Chinese Triad who are involved in importing Chinese slaves, and using them to counterfeit money so that a highly skilled martial artist gangster (Li, The Black Mask) can buy the freedom of four Triad heads, including his brother, who are being kept as prisoners by the Chinese military.
In other news, Riggs girlfriend (Russo, Ransom) and Murtaugh's daughter are expecting, and the father of Murtaugh's grandchild (Rock, Beverly Hills Ninja) is an annoying fellow detective Murtaugh doesn't much care for, but he doesn't know it. Leo Getz (Pesci, Casino) is also back as a private investigator helping them out.
This series is beginning to show its age almost as much as the two leads. The previous films have always had their share of funny comedy, likeable characters, and thrilling action. This time the action isn't as thrilling, despite the unbelievable talents of martial arts star Li. It's always been over-the-top but this film had far too much to swallow. The name of the series had originated due to Riggs being a skilled martial artist himself, and loose cannon. I'm not sure why he has forgotten how to fight well in this film, despite his age.
Chris Rock rattles off some of his stand-up routine (he's a one-dimensional actor) and Pesci resurrects the same old routine that was funny in Lethal Weapon 2, tolerable in Lethal Weapon 3, but is tedious now. However, the film is saved from being bad from terrific cast chemistry and a few truly funny moments. It's enjoyable while it lasts, if neither exciting nor good. I like the series but it's really time to end it here, before the chemistry fizzles out.
©1999 Vince Leo