They're Back, Bad and a Little Mad
It's no surprise that after the success of "Lethal Weapon" that they would come up with a sequel, a notoriously dodgy thing to do with so many movies sinking thanks to a sequel which just retreads the same old ground covered in the first movie. Thankfully "Lethal Weapon 2" is a sequel which expands and develops the franchise it gives us the familiarity of the warring partners Murtaugh and Riggs, building upon their relationships and characters and then gives us a whole new storyline, some new bad guys and situations to explore.
Having given chase to a red BMW laden with South African Krugerrand Officers Riggs (Mel Gibson - Signs) and Murtaugh (Danny Glover - Bat 21) find themselves in the thick of things again as they try to bring down a money laundering, drug smuggling South African diplomat. Along with informer Leo Getz (Joe Pesci - The Good Shepherd) who they are assigned to baby sit Riggs and Murtaugh find themselves in a deadly and explosive battle where no one is safe, not even their fellow officers as the South Africans try to scare them off before they discover their illegal operations.
One of the best things about "Lethal Weapon 2" is it throws you straight back into the thick of the things, straight into a car chase which is part of the main story and straight back into the odd couple partnership of Riggs and Murtaugh as they argue and comically bicker the whole time. It makes it feel familiar as if there hadn't been 2 years in-between the two movies and we are picking up not long after the previous movie left off.
The continuation and familiarity continues as the characters of Riggs and Murtaugh are expanded upon. We learn more about Riggs past, that fateful night when his wife died and cleverly rather than just feeling like the back story element is inserted just to create character it becomes part of the main story relating to the South African bad guys who Riggs and Murtaugh are tracking down. The same can be said with Murtaugh as his family become a bigger part of the movie in particular his daughter Rianne whose big break in a TV commercial causes Murtaugh some comical distress amongst his colleagues when it turns out to be for condoms. All of which is nicely done, we learn more through various scenes which could easily have just been thrown in for affect but then in someway they all become entwined in the main storyline which is of course about the South African bad guys.
Talking of the South African bad guy Joss Ackland should be commended for his portrayal of Arjen Rudd the diplomat behind all the dodgy activity because it's a character which easily could have become almost camp, caricature like yet Ackland restrains the need for over the top theatrics and just fills it with menace. The same with all the bad guys including Derrick O'Connor as head hit man Pieter Vorstedt who keeps his bad guy nasty through out without over egging the bad side of the character to turn it into a comic book bad guy.
As for the actual storyline surrounding all the money laundering, Krugerrand and so on, well frankly it's not that special but with it featuring South African's they explore the issues over apartheid with some memorable scenes featuring both Riggs and Murtaugh playing on this element. Plus of course there are plenty of chase scenes, action sequences and shooting culminating with a reasonable battle between Riggs and Vorstedt as well as a car launching out of a cargo box. Some of the action is as you would expect is comical, such as Riggs pursuing a car on foot and the memorable bathroom scene where Murtaugh finds himself frozen to an explosive laden toilet but there are plenty of moments where the action is truly magnificent and realistic.
On top of all this "Lethal Weapon 2" introduces us to the new character of Leo Getz played masterfully by Joe Pesci. I don't know how they managed to do it but they took Getz's character an informer that Riggs and Murtaugh are ordered to baby-sit and managed to make him a central character in the storyline, providing the links between various elements and becoming a third person in the team making it an odd trio. Pesci is so good at delivering some fast talking comedy that scenes which feature all 3 of them are in many ways reminiscent to the 3 stooges with plenty of slapstick thrown in as well.
If there is one negative to "Lethal Weapon 2" it's the casting of Patsy Kensit as Rika van den Haas the innocent assistant to Arjen Rudd and love interest for Martin Riggs. The whole thing feels forced, included to give the movie a sexy side, a love scene which features Patsy Kensit topless and just basically feels out of place, even though they do connect it to the main storyline. Sadly Patsy Kensit's over acting, almost sounding like a South African Marilyn Monroe doesn't help it at all and makes it feel a little laughable.
Aside from Patsy Kensit no one else really puts a foot wrong and on top of the good performances from Joss Ackland, Joe Pesci and Derrick O'Connor we also get Mel Gibson and Danny Gibson firing on all cylinders as Riggs and Murtaugh. When it comes to cop partnerships their double act is so brilliant it is easily one of the best to have hit the big screen.
What this all boils down to is that "Lethal Weapon 2" is a very good sequel, on par or if not better than the original. It thankfully doesn't rehash what we saw before but introduces a new storyline, new characters and develops the characters of Riggs and Murtaugh. It does have an issue or two but otherwise it's a great action movie peppered with comedy in almost every scene.