Writer and director Shane Black has been busy this week supporting his latest (and very excellent) action comedy, The Nice Guys. Naturally, those he’s spoken with have waxed nostalgic with the legendary screenwriter about his past landmark works, specifically the Lethal Weapon series.
Although Black only wrote the first two entries, arguably the best of the four, he is responsible for conceiving of Mel Gibson’s suicidal Sergeant Martin Riggs and his far more pragmatic partner, Danny Glover’s would-be retiree Sergeant Roger Murtaugh. Decades later, those guys still mean something to him.
So much so that he once conceived of a fourth sequel for Warner Bros. — so, that would be a Lethal Weapon 5 — one that would trim away all the fat (i.e. Joe Pesci, Rene Russo, Chris Rock, and the entire “We’re family!” sequence) for a back-to-basics final chapter. Here’s the pitch he outlined to the Happy Sad Confused podcast:
“I wrote a 62-page treatment with my friend Chuck for “Lethal Weapon 5” that would’ve been, I think, a very good movie. It was interesting. It was essentially an older Riggs and Murtagh in New York City during the worst blizzard in east coast history, fighting a team of expert Blackwater guys from Afghanistan that’s smuggling antiquities.
And we had a young character that actually counter-pointed them. But I didn’t wanna do what people do when they’re trying to transition which is, they sorta put the two older guys in the movie, but really it’s about their son! And he’s gonna take over and we’re gonna do a spinoff. Fuck that, if they’re gonna be in the movie, they’re gonna be in the movie — I don’t care how old they are.”
In a way, it would be similar to John McTiernan’s Die Hard with a Vengeance, which brought John McClane back to his home city of New York, only this would be more of a fish-out-of-water scenario for LA’s finest Riggs and Murtaugh. Sadly, Black believes Gibson has “been blacklisted in the industry,” as he told Business Insider, arguing:
“I’ve always been a tremendous fan of Mel Gibson, not just as an actor, but I think he’s a good guy. I just don’t believe in holding anyone accountable for something that they say while they’re drunk because if I’m drunk I’m going to be deliberately belligerent, first off. I’m going to say something that I know will piss you off and will delight in the fact that I’m destroying the house and burning it down. That’s what drunk people do. So the idea that that’s truly who a person is when he’s had a few, I don’t believe that at all. I just think that’s wrong. I know a lot of great people and they are not necessarily great when they’re drunk. So I don’t trust that.”
It’s hard to disagree with Black there. However, there’s reason to believe that Gibson might have a renaissance of sorts coming his way. His latest starring role, Blood Father, turned a number of heads this past week at Cannes, and he’s about to release his first directorial effort in a decade, Hacksaw Ridge, this fall.
With Hollywood sucking the marrow and everything else out of franchises, it’s hard to believe they wouldn’t entertain the idea of another Lethal Weapon. Even if Fox’s bullshit series is on the way!
On the plus side, The Nice Guys is out in theaters, and it’s fucking great.