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Lethal Weapon 4

Back in '87, Gibson and Glover's mismatched, bickering buddies, Richard Donner's loose-wristed direction and Shane Black's slick dialogue coined a harder edged style of action comedy. But Hollywood action movies have moved on since then, becoming more flippant, knowing and cynical. So how did it all turn out so well? In a word, familiarity... both in the sense of 'breeds content', and in the sense of familial relationships: here is a new sub-genre, the action-sitcom, in which the heroes' complicated emotional lives are as important as the gunplay, car chases and explosions. Glover's daughter is pregnant, but won't say who the father is; glamorous detective Russo, Mel's love interest from 3, is also pregnant, and she, like the audience, is waiting to see if the haunted Mel will finally bury the memories of his dead wife by asking her to marry him. On the action front, it's business as usual, but with creakier limbs. 'We're getting too old for this shit,' gasps Glover, as he and Mad Mel drag their ageing bodies around LA in pursuit of a Triad smuggling gang that's selling Chinese immigrants into slavery. The climactic streetfighting clash between Mel and coldly charismatic martial arts star Jet Li is a bone-crunching classic.

Release details

Duration: 128 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Richard Donner
Screenwriter: Channing Gibson
Cast: Mel Gibson
Danny Glover
Joe Pesci
Rene Russo
Chris Rock
Jet Li
Steve Kahan
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Marsellus

I always liked this instalment of the Lethal Weapon series (it's certainly better than number 3). While Gibson and Glover are getting a little too old for this shit, they still manage to deliver in the action-stakes (or rather their stunt doubles do). The plot is the usual kind of thing you'd expect and the 'action-sitcom' nod in the review above hits the nail on the head. However, the film manages to balance the action with the 'sitcom' stuff very well. Plus, Jet Li does very well in a non-speaking, bad guy role. His ruck with Gibson and Glover at the end is expertly choreographed and put together.