A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What 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.
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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?
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.
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