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With so many classic movies receiving sequels, reboots, and reimaginings, it’s really just a matter of time before we get a fifth Lethal Weapon movie. Screenwriter Max Landis -- who previously penned Chronicle -- believes he has found a way to breathe new life into the classic action franchise.
In a recent interview with Grantland, while discussing their new film American Ultra, the conversation with Landis and director Nima Nourizadeh quickly turned towards how to go about a new adventure between Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) and Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover). To which Landis quickly gave his pitch:
The final Lethal Weapon, if I have to pocket-pitch it right now, is Murtaugh and Riggs are asked to work with a group of, like, four cops who are younger, who were all involved in an action movie that we didn’t see. You hear the report, and it sounds like a Lethal Weapon movie: ‘They drove a school bus off of an oil rig?’ Then Murtaugh and Riggs are assigned to take them on like an Outward Bound program and try to teach them to be better cops and respect authority. Then it turns out the villain from the action movies that we missed is coming to kill them. Murtaugh and Riggs in the woods for the first time in any of the movies, with four characters we really like, do a slasher movie.
Although somewhat absurd, the pitch has many of the tenets for a successful sequel/reboot: it honors the source material, while taking the franchise in a new – and especially intriguing – direction. The pitch possesses a certain blend of genres that could make it feel like a cross between Cabin in the Woods and The Expendables. Every outing for Riggs and Murtaugh has always ended in them figuring out the bad guys’ plot, and engaging in some form of urban combat to bring it down; this pitch turns that on its head and takes the heroes outside their comfort zone – or in Rigg’s case, it bring him back to the underexplored area of his time in Vietnam. Landis’ version also sets up a "passing of the torch" to the new loose-cannon cops – which has become a common and powerful trope to use in Hollywood.
Landis also expressed the concerns that go into making another installment of the Lethal Weapon franchise. Although the installments vary in quality – as is the case with most film series that make it to four movies – we have yet to witness a truly bad Lethal Weapon movie. As he continued, Landis noted the importance of character over action, having no desire to see the headlining duo to devolve into generic action movie clichés.
You don’t want them to be like Bruce Willis in A Good Day to Die Hard. You remember that scene in Lethal Weapon 3 where they are on the boat and they get in the argument and start crying? That’s writing write there.
With Riggs and Murtaugh settling into their respective new roles as father and grandfather by the end of Lethal Weapon 4, it's difficult to say if Hollywood should try and revive the action classic, or let it rest. Do you like Landis’ Lethal Weapon 5 pitch? How would you bring Riggs and Murtaugh back to the big screen?