IT WAS MEL GIBSON'S IDEA THAT interviews for Lethal Weapon 4 should take place in Barcelona. Not because it relates to anything in the Los Angeles-set movie. but because he’s an admirer of the extraordinary Spanish architect Antonio Gaudi. some of whose buildings he visited whilst there. With director Richard Donner. producer Joel Silver. and Chinese co—star Jet Li. he also seized the opportunity to eat at one of the best fish restaurants in the world. Bota Fumeiro. If only all Hollywood stars used the privilege that comes with an alleged $20 million pay cheque as intelligently as this.
This bumper pay day aside. one wonders why Gibson signed up for Lethal Weapon 4. The project was only green-lighted after the collapse of Tim Burton‘s Superman IV left Warner Bros without a big summer movie. The filmmakers. in turn. were left with a tight six-month window in which to shoot. edit and publicise a $100 million dollar film.
Although it’s been seven years since the last sequel. the re-teaming of Gibson and Danny Glover — as crazy Los Angeles cop Martin Riggs and his saner family-man partner Roger Murtaugh — was an easy option for the studio. For Gibson it meant the chance to work with his friend Richard Donner for the sixth time. right off the back of their previous collaborative effort. C(HLS‘pr'aC)‘ Theory. He also sensed that the timing was right.
‘When I said I wouldn't do another Lethal Weapon movie. I was pretty serious. because I couldn‘t see a reason for it.’ Gibson admits. ‘But you don't look seven years down the track: at most you look maybe two or three. So you wait seven years and you find that you bring a whole other set of criteria to what you‘ll choose to do as an actor.‘
'We‘re getting too old for this shit.‘ gasps Danny Glover in the film. as he and Mad Mel drag their ageing bodies around LA. in pursuit of a Triad gang of smugglers who are selling Chinese immi- grants into slavery. At ~12. Gibson admits to feeling his age a little. I()().
‘They had this foot- chase scene where we were chasing these guys down streets and up ladders.’ Gibson recalls. ‘I‘ve always done that kind of stuff. and it was pretty easy for the first three takes. But then we had to do it a fourth time. because the cars weren‘t right or some— thing. and on the fourth take I pulled a harn- string. Man. that hurt. I
'| used to just be able to take off and go,butthese daysthe Spirit's willing but the flesh is getting weak.’ Mel Gibson
used to just be able to take off and go. but these days the spirit's willing but the flesh is getting weak.‘
There‘s another crucial sense in which both Riggs the character and Gibson the actor have slowed up a little: at the beginning of the original movie. Riggs. devastated by the death of his wife. was both unhinged and suicidal. In Lethal W'apon 4. Riggs is still capable of losing it. but is slightly less self-destructive than in the old days.
'I think that‘s something that happens naturally.’ Gibson says. ‘I‘m less crazy than I used to be. less impulsive and stuff. I think that‘s one of the good things about gaining a little maturity. I‘ve always seen Riggs as someone who‘s got this extreme. uncontrollable nature on the inside. but who has another side of him that has a little more of a heart. and that tries to control that nature. That other self is able to throw a little dirt on that fiery guy now and then. to dampen him down. But he‘s still in there. alive and kicking.‘
Nowadays. following the multi— Oscar winning success of Brat'e/ieart — which Gibson produced. directed and starred in — the actor has more than one string to his bow. Under the banner of his own production company. Icon ProduCtions. he wants to re-make Francois Truffaut‘s quietly chilling 1966 science fiction allegory Fahrenheit 45/. about a future society where the citizens have foregone the luxury of books in favour of material comforts. Although not too forthcoming about the project itself. Gibson mentions his modest directing debut. The Man ll’i’thoiit A Face. as an example of his general film-making philosophy.
‘I like intimate stories.’ he says. ‘I think even big films should have an intimate story at the core of them because. if you don‘t have that. then it doesn't mean anything. If the audience has to realise something about the human con- dition and identify with it. that allows them access.
‘If it's an action movie. then you‘ve got to have explosions and shootings and all that caper: but you also have to have some element of humanity. or the audi- ence won’t go along for the ride. .Vlovies like Lethal Weapon 4 aren‘t meant to be real. but the weird thing about it is. you have to have shred of reality somewhere or it just won't work.‘
General release from Fri 18 Sep. See review on page 25.
Stars: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Gary Busey
US box office: $65m-
Story: Distraught at the death of his Wife, surodal cop Martin Riggs is teamed up With the dependable Roger Murtaugh to bust a drug smuggling operation. Big explosions and buddy- buddy banter.
LETHAL WEAPON 2
Stars: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Joe Pescr. Patsy Kensn.
US box office: S147m.
Story: Still distraught at the death of his wife, mood-swrnging cop Martin Riggs and his dependable partner set out to bust a South African drug-money laundering operation. Bigger explosions and buddy-buddy banter.
LETHAL WEAPON 3
Stars: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Joe Peso, Rene Russo.
US box office: Stdzlm.
Story: Less distraught at the death of his Wife on aCCOunt of his new martial arts expert girlfriend, likeably nutty cop Martin Riggs and his dependable partner take on more bad guys as plot becomes merely an excuse for even bigger explOSIons and buddy-buddy banter.
LETHAL WEAPON 4 h ,
Stars: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Joe Peso, Rene Russo, Jet Ll.
US box office: S 1 30m to date.
Story: No longer distraught at the death of his wrfe, parody-of-his-former-self cop Martin Riggs and his dependable partner set Out to bust a Triad smuggling operation. Biggest exploSions yet alternate With sitcom-style banter.
10-2-1893 1998 THE UST13