It's a limbo project we might never see, though news of its possibilities emerges every so often, to fan the flames of hope in a tired fanbase. I'm talking, of course, about Lethal Weapon 5, a sequel that Richard Donner has been dangling in front of Riggs and Murtaugh devotees for years, with even Mel Gibson and Danny Glover expressing interest. Now, however, the original Lethal Weapon director (four times over) reveals the title of the potential sequel, while also admitting that it probably isn't going to happen. In an interview, Donner explains:
I'm ready to do 5. It's called Lethal Finale. It's very dark. And we were all set to go, and now Warner Bros. is doing their old-fashioned tricks. Not Warner Bros., there's this guy who runs the studio who's great, but they have these people in the legal department who do the negotiating in the most counter-productive way that they should be sent to a studio and work with the producers and directors and actors, and learn what makes a film, and then negotiate. But it's just embarrassing. ... And it's too bad, because there's a wonderful writer named Channing Gibson, who wrote [Lethal Weapon 4] for me, and we have a really great story. It IS dark. But I wanted to end it on an emotional note, and I don't think it's gonna happen.
You have to be intrigued. You can be nervous, too. But the mention of a "very dark" Lethal Weapon finale has me dreaming. People might forget how grim the original movie was. Yes, there was humor laced throughout it, pulled from the chemistry of leading men Mel Gibson and Danny Glover. But in the first movie, Martin Riggs (Gibson) is a suicidal head case, and the villains they faced off against were deranged Special Forces mercenaries who'd stop at nothing to protect their shipments of heroin.
The movies in the Lethal Weapon franchise got progressively cartoonish, as the scripts leaned into the physical comedy and got away from the menace that original screenwriter Shane Black (a master at this genre) brought to the dialogue. By the time we got to Lethal Weapon 4, Joe Pesci and Chris Rock were doing comedy bits in between clumsy action set pieces, and the franchise had lost its way.
Richard Donner's prognosis on Lethal Weapon 5, as told to the Nerdist podcast Maltin on Movies, sounds grim. And normally, I'd say that's fine. The franchise doesn't NEED another chapter. Lethal Weapon 4 was largely a dud. But then I saw Mel Gibson and Danny Glover together on stage for a recent Richard Donner tribute, and damn if this video didn't get me excited about the two of them playing off of each other one more time on screen:
Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for any and all updates on Lethal Weapon 5 as they come.