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Lethal Weapon 2: Director's Cut

After the success of the first Lethal Weapon flick, Mel Gibson and Danny Glover teamed up again with director Richard Donner for the sequel, and where the original film had a few quieter, dramatic moments — along with some male bonding as Gibson's Martin Riggs and Glover's Roger Murtaugh took the time to get to know each other while busting up a nasty heroin ring — a lot of the nice-nice is cast aside here. After all, since Riggs and Murtaugh are now trusty partners and Riggs isn't suicidal anymore, there isn't much room for dramaturgy. Why bother pretending different? Donner simply grabs the volume knob and turns it to the right — all the way right — opening brilliantly en medias res as our heroes race through the streets, sirens wailing, looking to take down another bust. It's one of the most exciting openings of any action film, and one that can only achieve maximum impact in a sequel. And if the baddies were bad in the first movie, Lethal Weapon 2 features a nasty group of scofflaws who aren't just crooks, they're South African crooks with diplomatic immunity (and who didn't hate the South African government in 1989?). With all the thematic depth of a comic book, the plot races along from car-chase to fist-fight to helicopter assault, continually bolstered by the nonstop, witty banter that has made the series largely superior to most action franchises. Joe Pesci even shows up as (alright, alright, okay okay okay) Leo Getz, a smarmy Mob turncoat who Riggs and Murtaugh are assigned to protect. The only real drawback in Lethal Weapon 2 is Patsy Kensit as Riggs' ill-fated love interest, a South African diplomat with no discernible political opinions (however, we never really find out if she supports Apartheid — messy subject). As pretty as a porcelain doll, and with barely more personality, Kensit sucks every ounce of charisma out of the movie with her flat, breathy intonations. The big payoff is at the end, with a spectacular stunt at the South African safe-house, along with a nifty fight sequence where Riggs gets his ass kicked all over the joint before (surprise) he comes out a winner. Good transfer, Dolby Digital or DTS 5.1. Featurette, trailer, notes. Snap-case.
—JJB



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