My roomies talked me into seeing this on opening night.
The Lethal Weapon franchise has become more and more of a comedy. The first had a lot about a tortured cop, but he pretty much got fixed (Hollywierd style) by the end of that movie. Starting with Joe Pesci's character they started veering towards comedy. In LW 2 and 3 they still had a some heavy material. Killing the girlfriend and revealing the wife in 2. Killing the kid and cop-killer bullets in 3.
In LW 4 the action has become more of a vehicle for the comedy rather than the other way around. They do kill a couple of nobody-good-guy bit characters, but you haven't built much of a stake in them. And at the beginning they mention Chinese slave trade indenture, but they don't dwell on it. That seems mostly to be a way to introduce Chinese bad guys.
The entire bad guy cadre was pretty disorganized. They have an old and a young Chinese guy talking to each other in a room near the beginning. I had pretty much assumed that the old guy was the boss. But as the movie progresses their actual relationship was never clear to me. Are they associates? Is one really subordinate to the other? About halfway through they reintroduce these other four Chinese characters that started in a Chinese prison. The only reason for these guys seems to be to force a conflict between two groups of bad guys at the end of the movie. They really seem tacked on. And who is the ship captain subordinate to? If they said, I completely missed it.
Also, the bad guys are starting to become too flat in the LW movies. The young Chinese bad guy walked around the whole time fingering this bead necklace, which transforms quickly to a garrot. Leaning so heavily on that kind of affectation really lowers the common denominator this movie is aimed at.
Chris Rock's and Joe Pesci's parts also seemed unfocused. These are two loud people and their characters pretty much dominate every scene they're in. Yet these parts were both fairly small. Pesci seemed to be there just because everyone expects him in an LW movie. And Rock has a coupla running jokes and a minor sub-plot device that follow him around for most of the movie.
Despite all of these strikes against it, the movie manages to just barely hang together. The only embaressingly silly humor was the arm-flapping thing in the opening scene that they show in the previews. Other than that, it's pretty much quick banter and over-the-top stunts that you just can't help but laugh with.
On my brother's Total Movie Value Scale, this movie rates Rental with Dinner. Better than I expected. More comedy than I expect.
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