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Lethal Weapon 2(1989)
Riggs wows the pretties of a hotel spa before getting to Getz. Murtaugh receives bad bodywork news from an auto repairman after his beleaguered station wagon sees some Riggs-piloted street action. Plus, feisty Leo shares a newly included scene in which he recalls a suspect's address by complex spins of numbers that, well, no one can tell it like Leo. And no one would follow his lead but Riggs and Murtaugh. It's police procedure, Lethal style. And it's yours to enjoy as the duo draws a bead on criminals hiding behind diplomatic immunity.
For more about Lethal Weapon 2 and the Lethal Weapon 2 Blu-ray release, see Lethal Weapon 2 Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on February 22, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Starring: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Joe Pesci, Joss Ackland, Derrick O'Connor, Patsy Kensit
Director: Richard Donner
» See full cast & crew
Lethal Weapon 2 Blu-ray Review
The undisputed high-point of a now classic series...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, February 22, 2009
If the first Lethal Weapon refined the buddy-cop and action-comedy genres, Lethal Weapon 2 nearly perfected them. Sharpening the already riotous humor of the original, injecting more wit into the series' dialogue, and pumping more lead and 'splosions into the proceedings, director Richard Donner's second foray into Riggs and Murtaugh's shenanigans emerges as a cinematic rarity: a sequel that surpasses its predecessor in every way. Is it any wonder then that it doubled the box office success of the original, brought countless fans to the franchise, and established itself as a late '80s classic?
After a violent car chase leaves our favorite LAPD detectives, Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) and Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover), with millions of dollars worth of confiscated South African Krugerrands, the pair find themselves on the trail of Arjen Rudd (Joss Ackland), a foreign minister covered by diplomatic immunity. As they work to prevent Rudd from importing drugs into the US, Riggs develops a relationship with the minister's secretary (Patsy Kensit), Murtaugh has to deal with threats against his family, and they're both assigned to protect a federal witness named Leo Getts (Joe Pesci). With department and international pressure mounting, the detectives have to dismantle Rudd's smuggling operation before a vicious hitman (Derrick O'Connor) can kill every officer involved in the investigation.
Once again, Gibson and Glover chew up every scene they get their hands on and, once again, screenwriter Shane Black is responsible for a thrilling and hilarious script. But this time around, Donner also introduces the series to a new scene stealer: Joe Pesci. Instead of rehashing Riggs and Murtaugh's previously resolved conflicts, the filmmakers toss Pesci's squirming con artist into the mix and watch hilarity ensue. While some may overlook this crucial character as simple comic relief, I see him as a key component that was missing from the first film. His role not only elevates Riggs and Murtaugh's partnership with a fresh dynamic, it allows the story to mesh into a cohesive whole. In that regard, every scene is an important one. There are no wasted subplots or extraneous supporting characters (ala the third and fourth films in the series), and exposition feels like a natural extension of Getts' inexperience and ignorance to certain aspects of the situation. I don't want to heap too much praise on a single element, but it seems that every time the sequel ups the ante, Joe Pesci is smiling at the edge of the frame.
More importantly, Lethal Weapon 2 doesn't feel like an aging product of the '80s. Slang and fashion aside, the film still boasts an infectious edge that makes its action compelling and its characters' exchanges taught and involving. While a few zanier sequences hold this one back from perfection, this sequel is nevertheless an engaging evolution of the original that outclasses every other entry in Donner's series. Its gags never feel forced, its gunplay has weight, and its characters' actions have realistic consequences. I can't quite put it in the same class as a film like Die Hard, but it comes pretty close. If you don't have the chance to see any other entry in the series, spend your time with Lethal Weapon 2... you won't be sorry.
Lethal Weapon 2 Blu-ray, Video Quality
Minted at the same time, burdened with the same meddlesome image filtering, and plagued with the exact same technical problems, the 2006 Blu-ray editions of Lethal Weapon 2 and the original Lethal Weapon simply pale in comparison to more recent high definition releases. Each one features a dated 1080p/VC-1 transfer that's riddled with severe aliasing, pixelation, and frequent edge distortion (a direct result of the pesky filtering applied to each transfer). The transfers suffer from rough-hewn, muddled dispositions that undermine what could have been a pair of impressive presentations. Compared to the discs' DVD counterparts, color saturation, contrast, and detail are all improved -- in fact, skin and fabric textures are decently defined, fine elements like sweat and hair are sharper, and delineation is more revealing. Unfortunately, banding, distracting edge enhancement, and artifacting compound the aforementioned issues, while source noise regularly interferes with the light veneer of grain that rests overtop the image. Adding insult to injury, noise reduction has been aggressively applied to a variety of scenes.
Lethal Weapon 2 looks slightly (I stress slightly) better, but it's only because the sequel had higher production values. From a technical standpoint, both transfers are identical. Granted, both Lethal Weapon transfers offer DVD owners a significant upgrade, but Warner's earliest plunge into high definition is riddled with unsightly jaggies and garish mishaps. Hopefully, the studio will revisit both films (as well as the entire series) and give these Donner classics the remasters they deserve.
Lethal Weapon 2 Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Both Lethal Weapon 2 and the original Lethal Weapon share similar audio presentations as well. While their standard Dolby Digital 5.1 surround tracks beg for a lossless upgrade, there are more sinister problems at work in each mix. Dialogue is muddier than I'm used to and several lines are lost beneath the series' gunplay and action sequences. Likewise, low-end extension is a bit soupy, leaving explosions and car collisions sounding dramatically weaker than Donner intended. Moreover, the rear speakers help to create rather immersive soundfields with convincing acoustics and involving ambience, but directionality is inexact at times and pans are too stocky for my high-def tastes. Even though I'm sure some of these issues can be traced back to the age of the films and the quality of their original sound design, I'm confident Warner's eventual Blu-ray re-releases will offer more powerful presence and faithful fidelity.
Ultimately, fans of the series will find both films sound better on Blu-ray than on DVD, but it's tough to justify spending money on releases that the studio is sure to revisit in the future. If you absolutely can't be without Riggs and Murtaugh, these are the editions to own. If you're patient, hold fast and wait for Warner to right their early Blu-ray wrongs.
Lethal Weapon 2 Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Blu-ray edition of Lethal Weapon 2 includes three supplements: a short collection of boring deleted scenes (4 minutes), a groan-inducing stunts-n-action EPK (also 4 minutes), and a presentation of the film's theatrical trailer. Sadly, everything is encoded in standard definition.
Lethal Weapon 2 Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
As much as I love Lethal Weapon 2, I just can't recommend this Blu-ray release to anyone but the most diehard fans. Sure, it outclasses the standard DVD in almost every way, but its problematic video transfer, underwhelming Dolby Digital audio, and anemic supplemental package are huge disappointments. Unless you can't resist the lure of watching Riggs and Murtaugh in high definition, wait for Warner to give this classic another go.
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