The only things more popular in Hollywood filmmaking than sequels are franchise sequels and right now studios are desperately trying to ring out every bit of depleted IP juice from every long-dead franchise they can. They’ve tried spin-offs, they’ve tried reboots, now it’s time to bring back the original gang to satisfy our collective need for nostalgia.
Dan Lin, who produced two-point-something seasons of a Lethal Weapon television series for Fox, recently announced that Warner Brothers was getting the original gang back together. That’s right, Mel Gibson as Martin Riggs, Danny Glover as Roger ‘forever glued to a toilet’ Murtaugh, and Richard Donner as the director who started it all. Usually, ranting about the lack of originality in Hollywood; or their obsession with IP, franchises, and sequels is a passion I can get onboard with, but this feels different. True, this is simply the latest 1980s franchise that’s getting a revival long after it should have (Terminator, Predator, Ghostbusters, Karate Kid, Top Gun, Indiana Jones, and more), but Lethal Weapon is one franchise that deserves another go at the box office.
The Lethal Weapon movies are good, clean, dumb fun starring the best pair of actors turned buddy cops ever to grace a series. When Riggs and Murtaugh ram a bar of rebar straight through Wah Sing Ku’s chest (Jet Li) and hoist him into the air as if he’s a giant trophy given to the world’s best buddy cops, it’s pure gold and a cinematic high note that any franchise could happily go out to (we’ll ignore the fact that these two could never do this to Jet Li). But at the same time, that high note begged the question, what if we could make these two already ‘too old for this shit’ cops twenty-plus years older, and see what happens next time? Holy hell, someone’s going to throw their back out.
This brings us to the ravages of time and the inevitability of old age. If you think the idea of two cops in their 60s and 70s kicking ass sounds ridiculous–you’re wrong. True Detective just did it in its third season, to middling success. But more importantly, Lin, discussing the film with The Hollywood Reporter at their Producers Roundtable, made it sound as if Donner would be directing this fifth installment as he did with the previous four. Only, Richard Donner will be 90 in April and hasn’t directed a feature film since 2003’s god-awful Michael Crichton adaptation, Timeline. Prior to that, it was the Lethal Weapon 4 in 1998. In other words, he’s been out of the game for some time.
Additionally, previous attempts to bring back the franchise reportedly stalled due to Mel Gibson’s unwillingness to play dog whisperer Riggs again. Until you hear it from their mouths, it might be best to sit tight on this one, though, really, let’s pray it happens: it may end up being the funniest (unintentionally or otherwise) action film of all time.