*. We begin with a high-speed car chase, just because. Nothing like throwing the audience into it.
*. The chase ends with the bad guys surrounded by cops until a helicopter appears and carries them off to safety. I mentioned in my notes on Lethal Weapon how stupid it was to have Gary Busey kill the character of Hunsaker by shooting him from a helicopter, since (for one thing) helicopters are pretty easy to track and trace. But that was nothing to this. The LAPD couldn’t track a helicopter taking off from downtown L.A.? Don’t they have helicopters of their own? And why didn’t any of the cops shoot at it while it was just hovering there?
*. The point being that this is a movie where you really, really have to check your brain at the door. Also: helicopters and car chases are cool. And houses blowing up.
*. Once again we have a gang of crooks who are up to no good. I’m not sure exactly what it is they are doing, but it has something to do with drugs and pallets of thousand-dollar bills. In any event, they’re Nazis. They are also so stupid it seems as though they want to get caught.
*. As with the General’s gang in the first movie, the South African mafia have no intentions of flying under the radar. Oh no. That’s not how real criminal organizations operate. Instead they declare open war on the police and set out to kill all the cops they can, in as spectacular a way as possible. After all, they have diplomatic immunity, which apparently means they can all do whatever the hell they want. So in other words: more helicopters and houses exploding. Is this the most efficient or effective way to kill people? Probably not. But at least the team sent to kill Riggs doesn’t come in low out of the rising sun blaring Wagner on loudspeakers.
*. Why is it that the gang is killing cops anyway? I never figured that part out.
*. The South Africans my seem unbelievably stupid, but Riggs and Murtaugh are their match. As in the original, they chase down leads that are “anorexically” thin. They also seem incapable of putting two and two together. Despite the discovery of a trunk full of krugerrands and people speaking in a strange accent that sounds like a mix of German and British, the penny doesn’t drop that they are facing South Africans until they are confronted with some actual passports.
*. This isn’t a police procedural or a movie that involves advanced crime solving. Whenever our heroes get stuck the plot is jerked along by some improbability. Like how the guy they’ve been detailed to protect just happens to be connected to the very same guys they’re looking for. Or like Murtaugh recognizing the name Alba Varden because it was the name of a ship that was in the background of a home video he had made. Luckily he just happened to have a copy of that video! Or the way Vorstedt turns out to be the guy who killed Riggs’s wife. Wow. Talk about tidying up loose ends.
*. I suppose the extreme end point of all this nonsense is the scene where Riggs pulls down the stilt house with his pick-up. Which is obviously impossible, but makes for a spectacular climax. Remember: we like seeing houses blowing up.
*. Hey, I’ll bet you didn’t know that when they introduced that nail gun it was going to get used later, did you? Or that when you saw Riggs escaping from the straitjacket he’d do it again later when it really counted. Or that Riggs wasn’t really dead at the end.
*. Actually, in the original version of the script, and an alternate ending they actually filmed, Riggs did die. But there was no way the studio was going to kill the golden egg-laying goose yet.
*. The first Lethal Weapon had a bit, a very little bit, of substance to it, but this film is just loud, brainless fun. The villains are slightly more interesting and Riggs and Murtaugh a little less. Joe Pesci looks like he’s enjoying himself. Patsy Kensit is cute and totally expendable. Joss Ackland does a great Curt Jurgens imitation. The energy level is maintained from the first film. There are some groaner tag lines (“I nailed both of them”). There are lots of helicopters and machine guns and houses blowing up.