A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
"Lethal Weapon 2" is that rarity - a sequel with most of the same qualities as the original. In a summer of anemic retreads like "Ghostbusters 2," "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier" and "The Karate Kid Part III," I walked into the movie with a certain dread. But this is a film with the same off-center invention and wild energy as the original.
The heroes once again are a couple of cops who form an odd couple: Riggs (Mel Gibson), who lives in a trailer by the beach and delights in making people think he's crazy, and Murtaugh (Danny Glover), a stolid middle-class family man with retirement plans. In the original "Lethal Weapon," their relationship was the center of the film, and in the sequel they define it further: It's a balancing act between exasperation and trust.
But sequels do not live by repeating the same scenes and lessons as the films that inspired them. There has to be a new angle, and "Lethal Weapon 2" finds one in the creation of a band of diabolical villains. It's my contention that the James Bond films sink or swim on the quality of their villains, and that's true here, too: These aren't just violent bad guys, but particular characters, well-acted and malevolently conceived.
What Riggs and Murtaugh stumble over is a complex plot, never quite explained, by which South African diplomats are dealing illegally in gold and other contraband. It is unclear exactly what their plan is, but they are ruthless in its execution, led by Joss Ackland as a white-haired ambassador with steel eyes, and Derrick O'Connor as his lantern-jawed hit man.