The Bonus Disc:
A 2012 Blu-ray package called “The Lethal Weapon Collection” gives us a chance to revisit the series’ four movies. Its first seven discs cover those four films themselves, while a fifth disc provides bonus materials.
For full information on the individual movies, please consult my separate reviews of 1987’s Lethal Weapon, 1989’s Lethal Weapon 2, 1992’s Lethal Weapon 3 and 1998’s Lethal Weapon 4. Please note that the picture and sound grades found at the top of this article represent an average for the three movies. Please check out the full reviews to get the details.
Though this article covers the boxed set as a whole, I want to concentrate mainly on the package’s fifth disc. Called simply “Bonus Disc”, this platter includes a variety of Lethal Weapon-related details.
The bonus disc includes four different documentaries. Psycho Pension: The Genesis of Lethal Weapon runs 23 minutes, 50 seconds and offers comments from director Richard Donner, screenwriter Shane Black, WB Pictures Executive VP (1980-1991) Mark Canton, WB Pictures co-CEOs (1980-1999) Terry Semel and Robert Daly, producer Joel Silver, production designer J. Michael Riva, line producer/2nd unit director Steve Perry and actors Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Chris Rock, and Rene Russo. “Pension” looks at the origins and development of the first film; while it touches on different aspects that led to the launch of the franchise, it emphasizes Black’s script. Those become the most interesting parts of the show, but the whole thing melds together well and gives us a nice overview of the original flick’s creation.
With A Family Affair: Bringing Lethal Weapon to Life, we find a 29-minute, 33-second piece that includes notes from Riva, Silver, Donner, Gibson, Glover, Black, Semel, Rock, Canton, stunts/stunt coordinator/2nd unit director Mic Rodgers, director of photography Stephen Goldblatt, editor Stuart Baird, and special effects coordinator Chuck Gaspar. With a focus on the first film, “Life” examines shooting in LA, stunts/action/effects, set/visual design and cinematography, cast, characters and performances, editing and the movie’s release/success. “Life” essentially extends the experience begun with “Pension”; it carries us into the flick’s actual production and afterlife. That makes it another worthwhile take on the first picture’s creation.
Pulling the Trigger: Expanding the World of Lethal Weapon fills 29 minutes, 46 seconds with details from Daly, Rock, Canton, Donner, Riva, Silver, Glover, Gibson, Baird, Black, Goldblatt, Russo, Semel, Rodgers, special effects Matt Sweeney, Weapon 3 director of photography Jan De Bont, and stunts/stunt coordinator Charlie Picerni. Here we learn about the development of the sequels and aspects of their creation/story as well as thoughts about new cast, the atmosphere on the set, stunts and various effects, and other aspects of shooting the second and third films. “Trigger” acts as a continuation of the first two programs, really, and it moves things along well; the positives I cited for those still apply here.
Finally, we locate the 22-minute, 28-second Maximum Impact: The Legacy of Lethal Weapon. It features notes from Daly, Russo, Donner, Gibson, Glover, Riva, Rock, Silver, Rodgers, Sweeney, Canton, Baird, Weapon 4 executive producer Jim Van Wyck, and stunt coordinator Conrad Palmisano. “Impact” digs into the development and production of the fourth film as well as cast and performances, stunts and effects, and the series’ afterlife. As expected, “Impact” acts as the concluding chapter in what’s essentially a four-part documentary. It gets a little self-congratulatory by the end, but it’s still an interesting take on the subject matter.
As film franchises go, I can’t claim the Lethal Weapon series among my favorites. The movies offer some decent entertainment at times but are too inconsistent for my liking. This four-flick package gives all of them pretty good picture and audio but supplements aren’t terrific, mainly because three of the four audio commentaries pretty much stink. The package treats the movies themselves well enough for me to recommend it to fans, though; it’s not a “dream release” but it’s acceptable.