Happy Joe Pesci Day! This day will forever be known as Joe Pesci day, in honor of his character in the Lethal Weapon franchise, who's birthday is on the ninth day of the ninth month! Why am I doing this? Is it because of happenstance being that I watched Lethal Weapon 2 and 9-9 was coming up? Was it planned out all along because I'm a big ole smart plan-y pants? I dunno, something like that.
Lethal Weapon 2 fixes a whole bunch of the problems I had with the first Lethal Weapon film, while also adding some really strange problems. The film clearly has a much higher budget, and a ... "better" writer, in that the plot is more interesting and better paced. Richard Donner really shows his chops as a director here, and Glover and Gibson both are doing a great job and having a good time.
So the plot. This time, the whole thing is about "dip-lo-mat-ic im-mun-i-ty." Evil South African fascists are doing evil things and smuggling evil money to fund their racism. Riggs and Murtaugh get into the case by accident on a routine drug bust that turns into an enormous car chase to start the movie, and get even more embroiled when they are given babysitting duty for a Mr. Leo Getz, who was a money launderer for drug fellas ... and the South Africans.
Listen to Belt, he knows what he's talking about.
The best part of the film is Richard Donner's direction and the scope of the film. They really got some impressive shots that nowadays would have been completely fake. Seeing a real car on fire driving out of a storage container with thousands of burning dollars fluttering within, around, and behind it, that is amazing. The beach front property Riggs' home is parked on is breathtaking. The way the car chases are filmed are fantastic.
Now there is also some hilariously bad stuff. Riggs' hair constantly changes length, and Gibson doesn't do a great job of hiding his accent, as a little Australian comes through almost in every scene. There is no nuance to these bad guys, who are just Nazis painted South African. The saxophone, as much as I love it, I know it is just gratingly terrible all the way throughout the film. There is an unforgivable shot where a guy is getting shot up all crazy as Riggs is going mental, and then all his squibs and blood packets just ... disappear in the very next jump cut for Riggs to shoot him some more. It is really really bad.
But overall, the film is super duper fun, and very much worth watching. Sure, it is bad in some places, but despite its small missteps, it actually has just a huge amount of really great stuff, especially the way that these characters just ... live. We are allowed to see them joke and talk about things that don't matter to the plot, they just matter to the characters, like tuna fish sandwiches and drive-thrus. This is the film that people remember when they think about the fun of Lethal Weapon, I think.