Thursday, April 21, 2016

Movie #355: Lethal Weapon 2

Lethal Weapon 2 is the second in the series (doy) of buddy-cop movies, directed by Richard Donner and starring Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Joe Pesci, Joss Ackland, and Patsy Kensit. It's held up pretty well, considering how nuts Gibson turned out to be, except for holy shit, the way it treats women.

But let me back up. Roger Murtaugh (Glover) is a family man; wife (Darlene Love) and three kids (look 'em up), while Martin Riggs (Gibson), while he isn't suicidal and unbalanced so much anymore, is alone other than his relationship with his partner (that'd be Murtaugh). They're chasing down a bunch of drug dealers led by a South African diplomat (Ackland), and the dealers decide to make it personal by threatening Murtaugh's family. This, of course, only inflames the cops' desire to take them down, but it does result in Murtaugh and Riggs getting assigned to babysit a state witness named Leo Goetz (Pesci in an iconic role for him, OK? OK), who happens to know said drug dealers.

This would all be standard action-cop shit so far, but Riggs falls for the drug dealer's secretary (remember, he's pretty blatantly running his criminal syndicate from the South African consulate), Rika (Kensit). Riggs beds her after pretty blatantly ignoring the first 8 times she says "no" (to a date, not to sex; she's a pretty clear "yes" on that), then the drug dealers attack, and they drown her. And, the drug dealer second-tier bad guy (Derrick O'Connor) just happened to have murdered Riggs' wife, as well! So of course Riggs goes nuts and kills them all.

We could talk about how the notion of cops taking the law into their own hands and blowing a bunch of people away hasn't, um, aged well (and it makes parts of the next movie, which is overall better, ring really false), but I think of more immediate concern is the way the movie treats women. There are four prominent female characters in the movie - Rika (dead), Trish (Murtaugh's wife; her big scene is a discussion with Riggs about his dead wife to set up the big reveal later and then getting taped up when the drug dealers attack Murtaugh); Rianne (Tracy Wolfe; Murtaugh's oldest daughter, whose big scene is starring in a condom commercial so she can be objectified and so Murtaugh can freak out - note, by the way, that his biggest concern is the shit he's going to get from other cops); and Shapiro (Jenette Goldstein; a fellow cop who gets blown up on her diving board when the drug dealers declare war on the police). We could go to five if we count Mary Ellen Trainor as Dr. Woods, the police psychiatrist who is portrayed as useless and fawning. My point is that the movie doesn't treat women especially well, even if it has more female characters than you'd expect.

Anyway. The action sequences are fun, and the chemistry between Gibson and Glover is really what carries the movie. It's really in the next one that the relationships are pretty much cemented, but this one carries a lot more of the brutality from the first movie (which I personally don't care for, which is why I don't own it). Still, the nostalgia of 80s action buddy-cop movies is a thing, and this is a pretty good example of the genre.

My Grade: B+
Rewatch Value: Medium-high

Next up: Lethal Weapon 3