Sunday, May 19, 2013
LETHAL WEAPON 2
(July 1989, U.S.)
The Summer fo 1989 was a particularly memorable one for me and the movies. What made it so memorable was that it was a summer that brought on a huge onslaught of sequels. Some of them were good (INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE and LICENSE TO KILL), some of them were bad (GHOSTBUSTERS II and STAR TREK V) and some of them were not even worth the time of anyone with half a brain of intelligence (EDDIE AND THE CRUISERS II and THE KARATE KID-PART III...are you fucking kidding me???). LETHAL WEAPON 2, however, was not only a worthy follow-up, but it even outsoured the original action blockbuster, in my opinion. In fact, the second film has become one of my favorite action films of all time. Go figure that one, coming from a guy who generally has a low tolerance for sequels.
So, by this time, the solid pact of friendship and support between Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh is firmly planted in the ground. Now they can finally take on a dangerous crime situation that not only has a little more bite to it, but an even more intruiging plotline than the first film. What begins as a simple assignment to protect an irritating federal witness by the name of Leo Getz (played by Joe Pesci) eventually turns into an all-out battle between the L.A.P.D. and a vicious gang of South African drug dealers hiding behind diplomatic immunity. Matters become particularly personal for Riggs when other memebers of the police force are systematically murdered by these drug dealers and when he finally finds himself falling for another woman since the death of his wife. Of course, poor Riggs can't seem to get a break in his personal life. Cliche practically demands that his new girlfriend Rika (played by Patsy Kensit) suffer at the hands of his South African enemies. She does suffer (she DIES, in fact) and in a moment on the beach where he's carrying around her drowned body in sorrow, we feel for Riggs as much as, if not more than the time he sat alone in his trailer with a gun to his mouth in the original film. The man had a shot at love again and it was taken away from him...again. And like I mentioned, the plot in this film is a little more crafted and as a result, we learn that BOTH loves of Martin Riggs were the victim of the same enemy. One moment of dialogue that I never forget is when a half-crazed Riggs is driving his truck and repeatedly tells Murtaugh that, "They killed them both!" We know that in action films, revenge is sweet and it's cold. For the climax of LETHAL WEAPON 2, we know it'll be extra special, complete with dislocated house stilts and a spectacular house collapse.
Now as much as I don't like it, I realize that major action heros need to be kept alive for any and all Hollywood money-grubbing sequels. But seriously, after watching Riggs get shot multiple times the way he does in that cargo container at the end...do any of you honestly believe that he could survive that?? Well, whether it's believable or acceptable to you or not, I must confess I enjoy the way Murtaugh keeps him alive by repeating, "You're not dead until I tell you!" Now THAT'S real friendship for you! And by the way, up until 1989, I had still not seen RAGING BULL (1980) or EASY MONEY (1983) yet. So LEATHAL WEAPON 2 was the first time I was seeing actor Joe Pesci on screen. What a way to be introduced to man, huh? "Okay, okay, okay, okay!"
And so, the LEATHAL WEAPON franchise ends with number 2 for me...because some of us refuse to receycle everything in life!
Favorite line or dialogue:
Martin Riggs (to his enemies): "I'm surprised you haven't heard of me, I got a bad reputation, like sometimes I just go nuts like now, ha ha!"