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Lethal Weapon 5 is one of those sequels that gets mentioned every few years, but never is expected to happen. For starters, the two main leads – who you would need to make the sequel matter – are currently 60 (Mel Gibson) and 69 (Danny Glover) years of age, respectively. The franchise is trying to find new legs as a television series, not as a fifth film, though if he was given the chance, writer Shane Black at least had an idea for Lethal Weapon 5… and a lengthy script treatment.
Shane Black is out promoting his new film The Nice Guys, which he writes and directs. But the media loves asking him about his past accomplishments, and it usually circles back to Lethal Weapon. Black wrote the screenplay for the original Lethal Weapon movie, which introduced unlikely partners Martin Riggs (Gibson) and Roger Murtaugh (Glover), so it sort of makes sense that he could be the one who brings them closure. While speaking with The Playlist, Black said he once wrote a 62-page treatment for Lethal Weapon 5, that would have involved the following:
It was interesting. It was essentially an older Riggs and Murtaugh in New York City during the worst blizzard in east coast history, fighting a team of expert Blackwater guys from Afghanistan that’s smuggling antiquities. And we had a young character that actually counter-pointed them. But I didn’t wanna do what people do when they’re trying to transition which is, they sorta put the two older guys in the movie, but really it’s about their son! And he’s gonna take over and we’re gonna do a spinoff. Fuck that: If they’re gonna be in the movie, they’re gonna be in the movie — I don’t care how old they are.
Which is almost what the new Star Wars is doing, making the ages of the original stars – from Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher to Mark Hamill – part of the story. You can’t do Lethal Weapon 5 and relegate Riggs and Murtaugh to a handful of supporting scenes, possibly even from behind a desk. They need to be in on the action… which gets harder when the actors get into their sixties and seventies. Because then you have older Gibson and Glover fighting a much younger Jet Li, which looks cool but isn’t really believable.
Father Time has messed with a handful of popular franchises, from The Terminator and Die Hard to the Rocky saga. These movies have looked for creative ways to continue telling stories, but it usually involves bringing in new and younger cast members to help carry to torch. I like that Shane Black came up with an idea to use Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh the way that we know them, and the snowstorm idea (while taking a page from Die Hard 2: Die Harder) would have allowed the filmmaker to set Lethal Weapon 5 during Christmas time… which would have been perfect. Alas, at the moment, this is not meant to be. But now I have a new script sitting at the top of my Want To Read list. Hey Shane, send that treatment over!