A fifth installment in the Lethal Weapon series has been teased since the fourth one came out in 1998. The franchise that birthed a lot of the clichés of the buddy cop genre has been one of the most beloved staples of action cinema since Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh first stormed into theaters back in 1987 (heck, Lethal Weapon did a Christmas-themed action thriller a full year before Die Hard came out).
Still, whether or not a fifth movie is a good idea is a real point of debate. Let's take a look at both sides of the argument. Does we all need Lethal Weapon 5 in our lives, or could we do without it?
10 Need it: Mel Gibson and Danny Glover have amazing chemistry
It’s very rare that on-screen pairings give way to off-screen friendships, but that’s exactly what happened with Mel Gibson and Danny Glover while they were working on the Lethal Weapon movies. Palpable chemistry shared by two co-stars is a very special thing, and it shouldn’t be wasted.
Instead of pumping money into a movie that forces two actors together who just don’t click, Warner Bros. should be using the gold mine of chemistry they struck with the casting of Gibson and Glover for as much steam as they can get out of it. To not see them on-screen together again would waste that.
9 Don’t need it: The TV show is this generation’s version of Lethal Weapon
Following the entirely unexpected success of the TV adaptation of the Lethal Weapon movies, this generation already has a version of this franchise and its central duo that they adore. Although the movies will always be the original --and, frankly, by far the best-- incarnation of the Lethal Weapon story, the TV show is today’s version of it.
To be fair, the actor playing TV’s Riggs (Clayne Crawford) turned out to be difficult to work with and got himself fired and replaced, while TV’s Murtaugh (Damon Wayans) left the show shortly afterwards and it was canceled after three seasons, but still: it’s fresh in audiences’ minds.
8 Need it: It could give the franchise a proper ending
Richard Donner has already announced that he intends to give the fifth Lethal Weapon movie the title Lethal Finale, so, clearly, the plan here is to give the franchise a real, tangible, definitive ending. Lethal Weapon 4 left all the characters in a good place, but it also left the door open for more stories in the future – it didn’t tie up any narrative threads.
One of the strongest points in the Lethal Weapon franchise has always been its consistent plot and character development, with each one building on the previous one and showing real progression in the characters. The fans who have followed these characters – not to mention the characters themselves – deserve a real ending.
7 Don’t need it: Each Lethal Weapon movie has been worse than the last
The first Lethal Weapon film is a stone-cold, bona fide action classic. Like all the best action movies, the set pieces drive the plot rather than hinder it, and there’s some incredible character development and a good balance of heart and humor. Lethal Weapon 2 didn’t blow the audience away like the first one, but it was still a fantastic action thriller with plenty of memorable moments.
Lethal Weapon 3 fell into some clichés and halted the characters’ emotional progression, and then Lethal Weapon 4 devolved into shameless self-parody. Each Lethal Weapon movie has been worse than the last, so things don’t look good for a potential fifth installment.
6 Need it: Riggs and Murtaugh are too iconic a duo to be gone forever
As far as big-screen duos go, Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh are up there with Han Solo and Chewbacca or Sheriff Woody and Buzz Lightyear. Both of those duos were reunited years after their stories were thought to be over, because they were simply too popular and iconic to be gone forever.
Lethal Weapon 5 is necessary for movie fans, if only for the chance to see Riggs and Murtaugh back together and working a case. Even if the plot ends up sucking and the movie itself is boring, Lethal Weapon fans won’t be disappointed by a fifth movie if Riggs and Murtaugh are back in fine form.
5 Don’t need it: Mel Gibson and Danny Glover are far too old for this
Remember watching Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and feeling bad for Harrison Ford having to swing on a whip in his old age? Or, remember watching any Liam Neeson action movie and being dizzied by the quick array of cuts during any scene where he has to run?
There’s a new trend of “geriaction” films – action films starring older actors in physically demanding roles – but frankly, it’s possible to be too old for an action role. With Mel Gibson aged 63 and Danny Glover aged 73, and neither of them getting any younger, maybe it’s finally time to call it – they’re too old for this s**t.
4 Need it: Hollywood doesn’t make old-school action movies like Lethal Weapon these days
All of Hollywood’s action movies today revolve around superheroes, post-apocalyptic warriors or death-defying secret agents surrounded by CGI environments. They don’t make “classic” action movies like Lethal Weapon anymore. Bantering cops who get into car chases, shootouts, and explosions achieved with practical effects for a more visceral experience just don’t make it to the big screen these days.
The Expendables movies are wry, on-the-nose parodies of these kinds of action movies, but it’s been a while since we saw an earnest one. Lethal Weapon 5 is the perfect opportunity for the old-school action thriller to make a comeback at the multiplex.
3 Don’t need it: There are enough sequels at the multiplex as it is
Pretty much every movie that comes out these days is a sequel. There are so few original stories being told. The current trend is to make remakes and reboots, prequels and spin-offs, and, above all, sequels. Hollywood studios – and, as a result, the film-makers they hire – aren’t daring enough to try something new.
If Richard Donner and Warner Bros. can work out the deals to get Lethal Weapon 5 on track, then it’ll just add more fuel to the sequel fire, and it’s fair to say that no cinephile wants any more fuel to be thrown on that fire.
2 Need it: We need to see poor Murtaugh finally get to retire
For 11 years, movie-goers heard Roger Murtaugh harping on about how he was “getting too old for this s**t.” In four different feature-length films, Murtaugh claimed to be on the verge of retirement. It’s about time the guy actually retired – and Lethal Weapon fans need to see it happen.
It’s not good enough to assume from the ambiguous ending of the fourth one that his retirement finally happened off-screen. We need to see his retiring ceremony, a party thrown in his honor, and Riggs and Murtaugh’s actual final case. That would be the best way to end this beloved franchise.
1 Don’t need it: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia already beat it to the punch
The gang from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia have beaten the Lethal Weapon team to the punch and stolen their thunder with their own fan-made Lethal Weapon 5 – and Lethal Weapon 6 a few seasons later, for that matter. Not only did these movies successfully parody the Riggs/Murtaugh pairing and the saxophone on the soundtrack, they also had pretty good, if poorly-executed, storylines.
Murtaugh came out of retirement to investigate the water-tainting operation that killed his wife, which isn’t a bad premise for a fifth Lethal Weapon movie. It’s Always Sunny ruined the chance for a real Lethal Weapon 5 with a hilarious one.