Dir: Richard Donner, 1989
After the success of 1987’s Lethal Weapon, it wasn’t surprising that a sequel would be forthcoming.
Ironing out the kinks from its 1987 predecessor, director Richard Donner and producer Joel Silver created that rarity in cinema; a sequel that is better than the first one.
Taking over the writing duties from original scribe, Shane Black, Jeffrey Boam rewrites Gibson and Glover’s character, adding the vital humour that was so badly needed in the first one.
Mel Gibson, actually looks like he’s enjoying the role. The development of his character, Martin Riggs, allows Gibson to have fun and use his natural playful personality.
He and Glover, bounce off one another in perfect synchronisation, giving cinema a fine double act.
As well as upping the comedy stakes, director Richard Dinner also ups the action. Out of the quartet, this is, arguably, the most violent. But, Donner doesn’t dwell on it. The veteran of cinema, deftly balances the violence against the humour, giving a level playing field.
Unfortunately, the film came out in the UK during the time that the director of the British censors paranoia was at it’s peak.
Head censor, James Ferman, became worried about the effects of violence, perpetrated by the hero would have on the British public. Needlessly fretting, he took his well sharpened scissors to the film, removing copious amounts of footage so distributors, Warner Bros., could get their desired ’15’ certificate.
For the video, Warner was happy to receive a higher rating, allowing the censored footage to be shown. But, Ferman wasn’t having any of it.
Adding some scenes of violence back into the mix, Ferman still insisted on cuts, explaining that the violence was too sadistic to be accommodated at, even, the highest category.
Nearly two minutes worth of cuts were applied to the video release, before achieving an ’18’ certificate.
Sadly, the film and the alternate director’s cut, stayed in this heavily cut version until the Blu Ray of the theatrical version was released uncensored in 2012.
Made at a time when apartheid in South Africa was still very much in force, Lethal Weapon 2 acts as a protest against the regime. The political nature that underlines the film, hits you in the face like a cricket ball going at full speed.
Regardless of whether you agree with a filmmakers political leanings, films that are a soundboard can often be marred by the overt opinions. However, that is not the case, here. The anti-apartheid message, doesn’t feel as though it’s being rammed down your throat, because it of the skillful direction by Richard Donner.
Lethal Weapon 2 is a joy from start to finish. Everybody involved was at the top of their game, and clearly shows what results can be achieved when all persons work in harmony.