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Following Richard Donner's Passing, Lethal Weapon 5 Has Lined Up A Familiar Face To Direct

On July 5, 2021, director Richard Donner passed away, leaving behind a body of work stretching back to the late 1950s. With his death came a cloud of uncertainty concerning Lethal Weapon 5, as Donner had intended to direct what’s expected to be the final outing of Mel Gibson’s Martin Riggs and Danny Glover’s Roger Murtaugh. Well, evidently Gibson himself is being lined up to inherit the directorial reins on this long-gestating project.

Mel Gibson said as much over the weekend while appearing at an Experience With… event in London (via The Sun). According to Gibson, Richard Donner requested that he take over directing Lethal Weapon 5 should he die. As the actor put it:

He was developing the screenplay and he got pretty far along with it. And he said to me one day, ‘Listen kid, if I kick the bucket you will do it.’ And I said: ‘Shut up.’ But he did indeed pass away. But he did ask me to do it and at the time I didn’t say anything. He said it to his wife and to the studio and the producer. So I will be directing the fifth one.

It’s since been reported by various outlets that Mel Gibson is in talks to direct and star in Lethal Weapon 5. So while this isn’t a done deal just yet, the pieces are being moved into places for Gibson to sit in the director’s chair, on top of reprising Martin Riggs. Deadline also mentioned in its writeup that rather than be a theatrical-exclusive release like its four predecessors, Lethal Weapon 5 is being developed specifically for HBO Max.

This move makes sense beyond the fact that Mel Gibson has been part of the Lethal Weapon film series since the beginning, so he knows this property inside and out. He’s also assembled an impressive list of directing credits over the decades, from The Man Without a Face and Braveheart to Apocalypto and Hacksaw Ridge. Factoring those two key factors, it’s hard to envision a scenario where Gibson doesn’t land the Lethal Weapon 5 directing gig. This news also arrives a month after it was announced that Gibson will star in the John Wick spinoff TV series The Continental.

It’s been 23 years since Lethal Weapon 4 played in theaters, and initially both Mel Gibson and Danny Glover were reportedly not interested in making another sequel. However, by 2017 (at which point the Lethal Weapon reboot TV series was already airing), Gibson revealed that he, Glover and Richard Donner had discussed reuniting for another movie, but by the following year, things had stalled. At the time, Donner said Lethal Weapon 5 would officially be titled Lethal Finale and go darker than the previous movies, but it was being held up by Warner Bros. By 2020 though, Lethal Weapon 5’s prospects had improved, with producer Dan Lin saying the project was in active development and Gibson confirming that Donner was still on board to direct.

Alas, we’ll never see the Richard-Donner helmed Lethal Weapon 5, and it’s also unclear if the movie will still be called Lethal Finale and retain those darker plot elements. In any case, we’ll keep you on how Lethal Weapon 5 is coming along as more updates come in. For now, you can watch Mel Gibson starring alongside Scott Eastwood, Tyrese Gibson and Famke Janssen in Dangerous, which is in theaters and on-demand.

Adam Holmes

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.