What The Film?! is a weekly column exclusive to Under The Gun Review that brings to light the plot holes Hollywood hoped you’d never notice. Written by comedy writer Dane Sager, this column shows no mercy to films that try and pull the proverbial wool over our eyes.
If you know a film with major plot holes that you feel needs to be exposed, tell us! Email email@example.com with the subject “What The Film” and we’ll try to get your suggestion featured on the site.
This Week’s Movie: 1989’s Lethal Weapon 2
Around 2006 I started boycotting Mel Gibson. Despite many friends insisting I see Apocalypto, I stood my ground. I didn’t even go when friends offered to pay for me because money would still be spent on my behalf. Promoting someone who had been “accused” of homophobia, racism, misogyny, and antisemitism seemed like a very clear cut bad move. There was no grey area, I have my convictions. Unfortunately for my convictions, there is one movie he can make that I would gladly pay to see: Letha Weapon 5.
1987’s Lethal Weapon was written by Shane Black, a then student at UCLA. His agent brought the 22 year old writer’s script to Joel Silver, who has produced almost every action movie in the past 30 years. Joel Silver loved the script and sold it to Warner Brothers. Lethal Weapon was similar in tone to 1989’s Die Hard as both movies contained vulnerable leads who cracked jokes at their horrible situations in order to keep their sanity. Gone was the unstoppable morally uncorruptable infallible action leads of the past, these were human beings.
Lethal Weapon was about an aging cop Roger Murtaugh and his new partner, Martin Riggs. Riggs has had a reputation as a reckless suicidal alcoholic after his wife died in a car accident. Murtaugh is assigned to him to keep him in check, because having a suicidal alcoholic who has nothing to lose on the force is a smart move. Similar to Die Hard, if you watch the movie today, it is filled with cliches. The defining difference between Die Hard/Lethal Weapon and other cliché action movies is that these movies created those cliches and shaped the action genre for the next fifteen years.
Lethal Weapon 2 didn’t have to do the character introductions, there was no now cliché “I hate my new partner/I now love my partner” plot arc. Riggs is no longer suicidal, but is still reckless and a loose cannon. The relationship between Murtaugh and Riggs is established and feels right. You can actually feel like these two are really best friends with their chemistry with each other. This is The Dark Knight after Batman Begins or Spiderman 2 after Spiderman. I don’t feel wrong in saying that Lethal Weapon 2 is probably the best buddy cop movie of all time.
The movie opens with Riggs and Murtaugh in a car chase through Los Angeles after a red BMW. When the BMW crashes, they find the trunk is filled with millions of South African gold. The two cops find themselves involved in a smuggling operation being fronted by South African diplomats who all have diplomatic immunity and cannot be charged with a crime, which is a frighteningly real thing. There are plenty of times in the movie where they could easily end the movie and solve everything, but that pesky diplomatic immunity prevents them from doing anything. No one can be charged, no one can be detained, none of this can be stopped.
So how does this racist apartheid diplomat get his game shut down? Do Riggs and Murtaugh find a creative loophole that makes his scheme fall apart? Do they say his name three times, banishing him to the netherworld? How could they possible stop this without causing an international event that could potentially start World War III? Why, it’s quite simple! Murtaugh shoots him in the face, killing him. Yes. Really.
There is never any consequences for this action. Lethal Weapon 3 opens up with Riggs and Murtaugh still being the crazy cop/straight edged cop team, fighting crime, completely unpunished for what is most likely the worst political event in the history of California (till Proposition 8 was passed). The entire movie’s premise was that they couldn’t do anything due to the Diplomatic Immunity, and now the movie tells us that the entire movie could have had a happy ending if they just executed the guy in the first scene they met him. Maybe the then South African President FW de Klerk just shrugged it off.