Insert your best "getting too old for this shit" joke here, folks, because it's sounding like Lethal Weapon 5 could be coming together at Warner Bros.
After years and years of false starts and abrupt stops -- seriously, we have stories tied to the possibility of Lethal Weapon 5 that date back to 2007 and beyond -- Deadline is now reporting that Mel Gibson, Danny Glover and director Richard Donner are circling the idea of doing one more chapter in the ongoing saga. The trade reports that Channing Gibson, who scripted Lethal Weapon 4, would return to the series (his TV credits include NYPD Blue, St. Elsewhere and L.A. Law). While far from a done deal, the possibility of this sequel has risen back to the surface, so let's break it all down.
The original Lethal Weapon came out in 1987, casting Mel Gibson as an unpredictable L.A. detective who gets paired with an older, by-the-book cop (Danny Glover) whose on the verge of retirement. Only, their chemistry was so combustible on screen, Hollywood wouldn't let this pair retire, and so Riggs (Gibson) and Murtaugh (Glover) returned for three additional films... all of which diminished in quality. Well, that's sort of true. I'd argue that the presence of Jet Li as the villain puts Lethal Weapon 4 ahead of Lethal Weapon 3, but we're comparing root canal to getting hit in the forehead with a hammer. Both suck.
There have been many ideas that have surfaced over the years that would attempt to get Mel Gibson and Danny Glover back into their signature roles, from moving the action to New York City (the franchise stayed in L.A. for every sequel) to pairing one of the top detectives with a younger cop and having Riggs or Murtagh serve as behind-the-desk mentors to the next generation of lethal weapons.
The timing of a possible Lethal Weapon 5 is also odd because FOX currently has its own Lethal Weapon TV show on the air, and it's doing... OK? Ratings were better in the debut season, but Clayne Crawford and Damon Wayans are actually entertaining as a new Riggs and Murtagh, and the case-of-the-week structure fits the series well.
Still, I think fans of the original films would love to see one more adventure between the big-screen Riggs and Murtagh, so long as a few boxes are checked by the sequel. For starters, this story needs to be about Riggs and Murtagh, and not every family member they've ever encountered. By the finale of Lethal Weapon 4, the supporting cast of this saga had grown out of control. Strip this story back down to the basics, and make these men action heroes, not family men who occasionally punch bad guys. Also, don't relegate Riggs and Murtagh to supporting players in their own franchise. Joe Pesci, Rene Russo and Chris Rock and fun. They, however, are not why we come to a Lethal Weapon movie.