Thursday, March 27, 2008

Lethal Weapon 2 (Unrated Director's Cut)

The Action Mutant…
has a secret way to get out of a poncho, but it’ll cost ya.

Lethal Weapon 2

review by Joe Burrows

(written January 13, 2008)
Just a quick rant: I know Meet the Spartans will end up being #1 at the box office when it premieres because people will once again not know any better. I know it will most likely clear over $50 million (at least) by the end of its run and it will write a blank check for 3 or 4 more of its kind. But, honest to fuck, nothing these people do is FUNNY! Seriously, the formula is this: “Hey guys! Let’s go watch E! and TMZ and MTV and VH1, then see what’s new at the video store. After that, we’ll just write a bunch of obvious jokes and cobble a movie together so we can earn another shitload of money! USA! USA! USA!” Have you seen a commercial or trailer for MTS? I know most comedy is supposed to be current and relevant but why should I pay $10 to see a bunch of shitty jokes about stuff that happened with Britney or Paris last week, when The Soup (the ONLY reason to watch E!) does it 1000x better? Donald Trump hair jokes? References about “getting served” (that South Park episode encapsulated the stupidity of that phenomenon perfectly)? The beyond tired “Say Hello to my little friend!” gag with the midget and the gun? Fuck me gently with a chainsaw! Yeah, that came from a far funnier movie that probably saw 1/50th of the audience this one will. (Note: This is a review of the unrated Director’s Cut, which is 3 minutes longer than the theatrical release)

The Plot, as it was:
Murtaugh and Riggs (Danny Glover and Mel Gibson) return as they investigate the seizure of non-transferable South African Krugerrands (money, people!). It ends up connected to a crime ring headed up by a South African diplomat (Joss Ackland) that cannot be touched (DIPLOMATIC IMMUNITY!). However, Riggs and Murtaugh don’t take to the concept very well and are hell-bent on taking the consulate down (even after several “friendly” reminders). Meanwhile, the duo has to baby sit a motor-mouth witness of the state (Joe Pesci) and Riggs falls for the consulate’s adorable secretary (Patsy Kensit) though it’s readily apparent neither of them has seen a Death Wish movie. Vengeance is served Aussie-style, bitch!

Don’t shoot me…I’m only the reviewer!:
From the opening strains of the Looney Tunes theme over the main title to the bravura finale, Lethal Weapon 2 is all about more. More action, more violence, more broad humor, more Riggs wackiness and more Murtaugh weariness, it is. The end result is grand entertainment of the highest level for any action fan and the perfect way to cap off a decade of mayhem. Both stars throw themselves into their surroundings, whether they be overly comical (definitely the “toilet” scene) or highly serious (anytime Riggs swears revenge). You would think the pairing would be tiresome since the initial conflict of styles has worn off but it actually still works because they come off like the prototypical “married couple” that knows each other’s quirks, yet still get embarrassed when they come to the surface. Yet, the superhero ideal is kept to a minimum again and both leads are credible in their emotions (hell, when Riggs’ goes nuts after the final straw is broken, I wanted to go kick some ass, though it does lead to the film’s one major contrivance that’s pretty hard to swallow). Everything else is basically the first film on steroids but that’s quite alright, as the action is crisp and potent once it gets started. Admittedly, Pesci’s Leo Getz proves to be more annoying than funny but has a few amusing moments and Acklund plays a totally reprehensible dickhead to the hilt. Honestly, I consider it the best of the series and though that’s an arguable point, its certain that LW 2 throws in everything AND the kitchen sink with great zeal.

Character/Supporting Actor Sighting!:
- Jack McGee (TV’s Rescue Me) is McGee the carpenter.

Body Count/Violence: 34. Not only is the body count higher in LW 2 but so is the level of violence as well. Things border on downright cartoonish, from a car chase that ends with a surfboard being used as a lethal (no pun intended) projectile to someone getting a metal tractor trailer crate dropped on them like an anvil! There’s plenty of shooting, explosions, fighting, stabbing, car crashing, neck breaking, drowning, nail gun play and other goodies.

Sexuality/Nudity: The impossibly cute Patsy Kensit shows her taut, little chest on two occasions. Mr. Gibson is not bare ass naked in this one but he makes sure to keep his shirt off a few times. And I could have sworn he and Murtaugh were going to make out at least twice.

Language/Dialogue: A little stronger than the first. Riggs seems very adamant during his revenge rant when he says he’s going to “…hit them hard and really fuck ‘em!” Just saying.

How bad was it?:
Critics gave this portion of the LW series the green light, just like the first. However, they were pretty split on whether it was better than the first. Fans could have cared less.

Did it make the studio’s day?:
Though it’s the only film in the series not to have its budget publicly listed, it’s a safe bet that Warner Bros. was as happy with the sequel’s performance as it was with the original. Being released on 7/7/89, LW 2 mirrored its predecessor by debuting at #1 for the first three weeks of its run and by staying in the top 10 for nearly three months. It became the third highest grosser of ’89, right behind Batman and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade with $227.9 million worldwide ($147.3 million U.S. + $80.6 million foreign = one happy fuckin’ frog!)

Film: ***1/2/*****
Entertainment value: ****1/2/*****

Copyright 2008 The Action Mutant.

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