Lethal Weapon 2 Movie Poster Image

Lethal Weapon 2

(i)

 

Violent sequel adds Joe Pesci to the buddy cop formula.

What parents need to know

Positive messages
Not applicable
Violence

Onscreen shootings, death by nail gun, explosions, stabbing.

Sex

A recurring condom joke, brief simulated sex, female nudity.

Language

Plenty of cursing.

Consumerism

Part of a series of films. There are references to Subway, Ramses condoms, GMC.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Alcohol, smoking, portrayed in a negative light.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this film contains graphic violence and a sex scene. There are several shootouts, some beatings, and a stabbing. Though the violence is graphic, the camera doesn't linger on the characters' suffering. The villains are racist South African diplomats, and the film seems to draw a connection between their country of origin and their racism. Though this made sense at the time, it might give young viewers the impression that Apartheid is still policy in South Africa. One character is essentially given a pass for money laundering.

What's the story?

Half-crazed from the tragic events of the first film, detective Riggs (Mel Gibson) lives in a beachside trailer, but spends most of his time with his partner Murtaugh (Danny Glover) and his family. Riggs and Murtaugh are assigned to protect money launderer Leo Getz (Joe Pesci) from revenge-seeking drug dealers. The dealers are racist South African diplomats, willing to wipe out the entire police force one by one to get to Getz, and get away with truckloads of stolen currency. Riggs falls into a fast romance with one of the enemies. When she's murdered by her cohorts, Riggs gets all the motivation he needs to take them all on.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

More manic than its predecessor, LETHAL WEAPON 2 is a formulaic sequel to the first hit film. Initially, it takes itself less seriously than its predecessor, adding another comic foil to the mix in the form of Pesci, who makes the most of a small role. The comedy is crass at times, like when Murtaugh sits on a toilet that's rigged to explode. These comic moments give way to a more serious second half, in which the film goes to great lengths to justify the inevitable blood-soaked climax.

 

The film tackles issues of race in a very simplistic way, conflating South African apartheid with Nazism. It's telling that Riggs' favorite TV shows are the 3 Stooges and Looney Tunes -- both chock full of violence and laughs. The mix of violence and laughs on display in this film feels more sadistic and unnecessary than cartoonish. Though it has the forward momentum of a good action movie, this uneasy mix keeps it from being thoroughly entertaining.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the mix of comedy and violence here. Does the comedy make the killing less intense -- or does the combination seem odd to you? Can you think of other films that mix these elements?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 7, 1989
DVD/Streaming release date:December 15, 1998
Cast:Danny Glover, Joe Pesci, Mel Gibson
Director:Richard Donner
Studio:Warner Home Video
Genre:Action/Adventure
Run time:114 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:violence and language

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Adult Written byage 10+ May 27, 2012

Even Better Sequel To Great 80's Film

Kid, 8 years old September 9, 2011

Notably less sex and drugs.

Good, notably less sex and drugs. Violence and profanity still strongly exist.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 13 years old Written bymichaelc April 29, 2010
no concerns
What other families should know
Too much swearing