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The Lethal Weapon Franchise: The Definitive Ranking

Not a great series, but it has its amusements. What started as a rather serious look at a policeman with suicidal depression finding reason for life quickly became a corporate product, driven by opening weekend grosses hinging entirely on recognizable elements and the charm of its leads.

I can easily see why Shane Black found a way to direct his own scripts with Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. His script for Lethal Weapon 2, supposedly some kind of masterpiece, was rewritten to the point where it barely looked like the script that started the production.

Oh well, it’s done, four movies long, and ready for the listicle treatment. The definitive listicle treatment, no less.

Lethal Weapon 3 (1992) - IMDb

4. Lethal Weapon 3

“I can’t lay all of the blame for terrible corporate franchise filmmaking at the feet of Lethal Weapon 3, but I can lay some of it on Richard Donner’s mess of a film, a film so ridiculous it feels more like a prequel to Last Action Hero than a sequel to Lethal Weapon.”

Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)

3. Lethal Weapon 2

“It’s a bit of a mixed bag of a film. I see some thin entertainment mixed with some decent character work while all thrown together in often very odd ways, betraying the tortured screenwriting process that went from the rumored masterpiece of a first draft by Shane Black through several drafts by other writers, ending with a draft fully credited to Jeffrey Boam. It’s a small mess that manages to entertain to some degree while having obvious room for improvement.”

Lethal Weapon 4 (1998) - IMDb

2. Lethal Weapon 4

“It’s almost enough for me to outright recommend, but just not quite. It’s pretty okay, is what I’m saying.”

Lethal Weapon (1987) - IMDb

1. Lethal Weapon

“I kind of love the first half of the film, where it’s mostly a pure character drama, and I find the second half helped greatly by the work in the first half but kind of all over the place at the same time. It’s never not entertaining, but it really could have been built a bit better to take advantage of the genre conventions it was dwelling in to greater effect.”

11 thoughts on “The Lethal Weapon Franchise: The Definitive Ranking”

      1. It was a short segment that I happened to see because the TV happened to be on. I only remember the bare bones of it.

        Cookie Monster sits in a chair a la “Masterpiece Theater” and says today’s movie is “Lethal Weapon 3.” He talks for a bit about its significance, etc. We then cut to a bare stage, and a giant number 3 crashes to the floor. Then, and I kid you not, Mel Gibson and Danny Clover enter the stage and (memory failing here) talk about how that “3” was sure a “Lethal Weapon.”

        We cut back to Cookie Monster who delivers the outro. As mentioned, my memory of this is poor…but it is on YouTube, which I will watch now to see how wrong the above summary is. Cheers!


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