Lethal Weapon 2 is arguably remembered for its toilet bomb more than anything else. It’s a situation that could only happen to Riggs (Mel Gibson) and Murtaugh (Danny Glover). With the kids and wife out of the house, Murtaugh takes simple pleasure in having the bathroom for himself, not to mention a saltwater fishing magazine. It’s unfortunate then the villains stuck a bomb to it, leading to an 18-hour odyssey to dislodge Murtaugh from the john.
Being a family man, it’s inevitable Murtaugh’s kids and wife become involved as the case becomes hot. Even better, Lethal Weapon 2 sees no need for the scene where the couple argues over the job, his retirement, and their safety. The family is shuffled off to another location, and it’s dropped.
Part of it is a breezier tone, Weapon 2 brighter, more eccentric. Riggs is no longer suicidal, just off-kilter. The buddy cop genre is more in play, the one-liners frequent, and arguments plentiful. For sure, it’s a louder film, although less boisterous. It’s clear the two leads have a better understanding, treating each other playfully to get under the skin. A lot of that is represented in the police station, a work place meant more to stir up laughs than results.
Director Richard Donner returns (as he would for the entirety of the series) with more finances to play with and thus bolder action. From the Looney Tunes-riffing credits, Lethal Weapon 2 is spear-headed by a chase scene. Flipping cars, explosions, and bullets become the norm with a sense of immediacy. Riggs and Murtaugh have more bullets glance them than ten cops combined probably will in their careers.
Stuntwork plays as a key tension driver, Riggs clinging to the front of a tow truck in heavy traffic, shots leaving little room for error. The cinematic beauty of cars slamming into one another is wondrous, and shot with such zest, it’s hard not to be entertained.
Between it all lies Joe Pesci, cast a low-end money launderer with a key to the activities of drug lords. A one-off side character sandwiched between Riggs and Murtaugh proved too endearing to leave behind, turning Leo Getz into the staple of the franchise. Fast-talking with a slimy personality, Getz is everything that makes the series work, a bit larger than life and loveable – if only because audiences don’t have to put up with him personally. Or an exploding toilet. That’s a big one too.
Even if it opens on a nighttime chase, Lethal Weapon 2 is a brighter, sharper entry than its predecessor. Warner’s VC-1 encode is pulled from the UK disc, a flawless print source coupled with what appears to be an adequate resolution scan. The grain structure, what little of it proves noticeable, is resolved. Without unnecessary manipulation, the appearance is wholly filmic and clear. That clarity will be the endearing quality.
Outdoor and naturally lit locations shine on this disc, further accentuated by a broad color spectrum that adores the chance to display primaries. Saturation is a beautiful thing, and without harm coming to the flesh tones. Lethal Weapon 2 looks like an expensive, appealing Hollywood production primed for a heated July release, exactly what it was.
There’s still that nagging issue with the black levels that carries over, better here if still lacking that kick needed to drive the imagery. A key emotional scene as Gibson drives to take his revenge under the cover of night appears flattened and faded, missing the depth and tightness necessary. There are glimpses, spotty as they may be, where they hold together to simulate consistency, but they always fall back on their old tricks.
All of the HD-ness (as desperate of a term as that can be) is retained in the texture and high-fidelity detail. Lethal Weapon 2 is full of it. Close-ups are exquisite, inconsistent only as often as the intentional focus wants them to be. There are countless impressive shots that dazzle and betray the age of the source, which can also be said for exteriors. This is fine work.
The stereo channels are bliss in this DTS-HD mix. From the bold opening credits, the car chase instantly involves the sides as cars pan through the widely separated fronts. There’s a smidgen of surround use, not enough to impede on the original design or make it sound artificially added. The motion is tracked precisely without accentuation to call attention to itself.
Loads of shoot-outs are primed for this audio mix too, and like the vehicle pursuits, maintained by the stereos. Brief flourishes from the rears are discreetly placed. Most of the material planted behind the listener come from minor elements, rain ambiance and such, or the exterior of the toilet scene. Panicked neighbors and a slew of sirens will pick away at the rears. There’s still aggression, but in the style that was afforded to something this vintage.
Fidelity issues are meager, dialogue limited although consistent. The first film has trouble keeping the lines on an equal level, this sequel better equipped. There are hints of LFE action during the house collapse (1:34:30), although just a glimpse. It’s a bit forced and lacking tightness, but it’s progression.
Richard Donner’s solo commentary track is as insightful as the single disc bonus features get. A vintage late-’80s featurette on the stunt work is totally promotional, and a trio of deleted scenes barely crack four-minutes. There’s a trailer too.
Note the box set contains a fifth disc with more Lethal Weapon 2-based material. This review is relevant to the individual disc only.
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