Lethal Weapon 4

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Lethal Weapon 4

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That big numeral "4" in the title looks like bad news: After countless broken bones, gunshot wounds, wrecked buildings, exploded cars, and dead forgotten villains, the Lethal Weapon series has little to go on at this point but goodwill, inflated budgets, and a new character with each successive movie. Lethal Weapon 4 coasts far too heavily on all three, piling on garish digital explosions, pointless chases, endless rants, and implausible derring-do while radiating don'tcha-just-love-us? smugness. The plot isn't important, except to say that it provides opportunities for Danny Glover (screaming a lot and flailing madly) and Mel Gibson (sadistically bullying to the point where it's impossible to root for him) to engage in earnest hand-wringing and bone-snapping martial-arts battles involving Hong Kong superstar Jet Li. Li has a powerful screen presence as the villain, but he isn't given an awful lot to do; even his fight scenes are undermined by jarring editing. Enjoying less screen time is Rene Russo, now pregnant with Gibson's baby, leaving plenty of time for what seems like hours of Joe Pesci's squawking. Pesci overacts wildly, to be sure, but he's also handicapped by lines that clumsily revive tired catch phrases from the other Lethal Weapon movies. Not so with new cast member Chris Rock, who pops up from time to time to spout occasionally funny (but often out-of-place) material from his comedy act. After ages of predictable, seen-it-before buildup—pieces of Glover's property are destroyed, Gibson and Glover's families are menaced by villains, Gibson engages in an elaborate fight scene on and around a moving vehicle for no logical reason—Lethal Weapon 4 sputters to a close with spurts of staggeringly ugly, brutal violence and tacked-on treacle. It's a dead end to a franchise that should have been put to rest two movies ago.

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