I suppose this was inevitable. We’re living in an age of remakes, reboots, re-imaginings, and anything else you can stick that “re” prefix in front of. I’m sure many of you have felt the sting of Hollywood’s magic eraser and cringed at its desire to tarnish the beloved properties you grew up with. While it’s certainly a practice I feel has spun wildly out of control, I’ll admit that this is the first time it’s escalated past a mere annoyance for me. This one actually sort of hurts.
Deadline is reporting that Warner Bros and producer Joel Silver are pushing forward with a Lethal Weapon reboot. Screenwriter Will Beall (Gangster Squad) evidently pitched a take on the material that convinced the studio to definitively abandon any plans for the oft-rumored Lethal Weapon 5 and start from scratch.
A couple of years ago, original Lethal Weapon screenwriter Shane Black wrote a treatment for a fifth film that would have acted as something of a swan song for the characters of Riggs (Mel Gibson), Murtaugh (Danny Glover), and the ever-expanding supporting cast. Silver was anxious to have Black direct the film as well, but Gibson’s loyalties were with Richard Donner (who helmed the previous four movies). The only problem was Donner had been curiously left out of WB’s plans for the film. Gibson’s interest waned and by 2009 the studio was declaring that Lethal Weapon 5 was dead.
Then Gibson’s name started making headlines for all the wrong reasons. There were rumors that Silver reached out to him once again about reprising the role of Riggs – possibly trying to tempt him to use the opportunity to get back in the public’s good graces. Suddenly, the idea of another Lethal Weapon sequel didn’t seem so implausible, but unfortunately there were no further reports on how those discussions progressed (if they did at all). Ultimately, it seems like Gibson was just never that interested in revisiting the Lethal Weapon franchise.
Deadline‘s piece says that Beall’s script will honor the hard-R tone of the original film and suggests it will follow the same basic premise as well. Beall has written for the show Castle, but is relatively untested as far as features go. His Gangster Squad script caused quite a buzz within the industry and as a former LA police officer, we know he’ll easily be able to follow the first rule of writing: write what you know.
But the bigger issue is how necessary is a Lethal Weapon reboot and how relevant would it even be in today’s cultural climate?
The original Lethal Weapon wasn’t the first buddy cop movie, but it was certainly one of the most influential. The formula has been repeated ad nauseum and there are few places you could take that genre that it hasn’t already gone. At this point, it’s so played out that most recent examples of it are satirical in nature (Cop Out, The Other Guys).
Furthermore, the single biggest reason for the continued success of the Lethal Weapon franchise was the chemistry between its core cast – especially Gibson and Glover. Those actors are so iconic in those roles that it’s difficult to imagine an audience truly accepting anyone else stepping into their shoes. As the series progressed, the plots were secondary to the interplay between Riggs and Murtaugh. That’s what kept us coming back and it would never have worked as well as it did with two different actors.
What would the hook even be for a Lethal Weapon reboot? The premise isn’t nearly as edgy as it was twenty years ago and it’s not going to be seen as much of a consolation for anyone that was holding out hope for Lethal Weapon 5.
We’ll keep you updated on how this progresses, but quite frankly – I’m getting too old for this… well, you know.