Hollywood loves comeback stories, both onscreen and in real life, and it has proven several times over the years that no transgression is unforgivable as long as you can hide away for a certain amount of time and then heroically return to the spotlight with either a big hit or a critical darling. That’s what Skydance Animation is banking on with John Lasseter, that’s why Roman Polanski got a huge standing ovation at the Oscars, and that’s presumably why Mel Gibson is once again getting high-profile show business opportunities.
People with money are just so confident that he’s one hit away from being a superstar again that they’re falling over themselves to be the one to make it happen. A month ago, we reported that Gibson is set to star in Starz’s John Wick prequel The Continental (an insult to Keanu Reeves and how the John Wick series revitalized his career as an action hero), and now Gibson has revealed that it was Richard Donner’s dying wish that Gibson direct a fifth Lethal Weapon movie.
Donner, who directed all of the previous Lethal Weapon movies, died last year, and Gibson now claims that the director once said that he was developing another Lethal Weapon screenplay and told him, “Kid, if I kick the bucket, you will do it.” That comes from NME, with The Hollywood Reporter also running with it, so this is pretty close to a binding contract and the only thing standing in the way of Gibson actually directing and starring in another Lethal Weapon movie is convincing someone to sign the checks. (Which should be easy, for reasons we’ve already established.)
Early last year, when the world’s politicians and billionaires were still just figuring out how to profit from the then-upcoming COVID pandemic, we reported that Dan Lin—a producer on the troubled Lethal Weapon TV show—was insisting that a fifth Lethal Weapon with Gibson and Danny Glover was just about to get the green light. This was right after Bad Boys For Life after all, and it went on to become one of the biggest movies of the whole year! (Because all movie theaters were shut down a few months later.)
Donner’s death would’ve sidetracked any Lethal Weapon plans, since Lin said he would come out of retirement for it, but him conveniently telling Mel Gibson that he should make it is certainly lucky. Reframing him as a prestige filmmaker didn’t really take, and making him a gimmick can only last so long, so hopefully this will be the thing that finally erases our memories of the bad stuff that he did.