Alphabetical Movie – Lethal Weapon I, II & III
Some sequels are merely terrible. Other sequels are so awful, their name should not be spoken because their mere existence makes the rest of the franchise look bad.
When is the last time, for instance, that you had a meaningful conversation about Beverly Hills Cop III? What’s that? You didn’t even know there was a Beverly Hills Cop III? That’s because nobody ever talks about it.
It is easy to note that I watched three Lethal Weapon films when there are, in fact, four. The first three films are an exercise in increasing laziness that manages to be entertaining anway. Every one of them involves Murtaugh and Riggs stumbling across a major drug ring and bringing it down while Murtaugh continues to insist he is too old for this shit.
They add a new character in each film and if the character is successful, they add more in the next one. Joe Pesci is around just enough to be interesting in Lethal Weapon II, they give him a bigger role in Lethal Weapon III. Then they mix Renee Russo into the story in Lethal Weapon III.
And then comes the moment when they make the fatal decision to make Lethal Weapon IV and the whole thing goes to hell.
I could spend this entire blog entry discussing the criminal waste of Jet Li in the film but that would be to suggest that the movie could have been improved by including more Jet Li. If it was that simple, any bad film could be improved by inserting Stanley Tucci and we know that doesn’t work because Space Chimps exists.
Movies like Lethal Weapon IV and Beverly Hills Cop III exist as cautionary tales. You want to believe that Hollywood can go back and re-create whatever was awesome about a film that you love. You look at Eddie Murphy re-visiting Axel Foley and you think “what can go wrong?”
The same thing that can go wrong if you keep having Bruce Willis play John McClane. Or Christopher Reeve play Superman. Or Sylvester Stallone play Rocky. Or Harrison Ford play Indiana Jones.
Eventually the beloved characters become caricature and the movies become parodies.
As fans, we want to believe that Ghostbusters III is a great idea. We ignore all of the evidence in Ghostbusters II and just figure that it would be awesome to have Bill Murray and Dan Akroyd strap on proton packs again.
I agree. It would indeed be awesome to see that. But they’ll have to do more than strap on a proton pack. They’ll have to be in an entire movie. That worries me.
For every Men in Black III that turns out OK, there are a whole lot more Superman IV’s waiting to be made.
And if that doesn’t scare the crap out of you, it should. They turn out enough shitty original films these days. Who needs a whole bunch of aging stars in wasted sequels to beloved franchises?
So I’ve stopped getting excited about rumored revivals of my favorite film series. Nobody is doing it because they have a great story to tell. They already told a great story. At best, they are just trying to tell that story again.
We’d all be better off if we just went back and watched the original.
But Rocky and Rambo are exceptions. After they keep getting worse, those final(?) films are second only to the originals in quality. Eh, maybe it’s just Stallone.
We’ll know when we get to “The Expendables V.”