Greatest Movie Series
Franchises of All Time
The "Lethal Weapon" Films

Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)

Lethal Weapon Films
Lethal Weapon (1987) | Lethal Weapon 2 (1989) | Lethal Weapon 3 (1992) | Lethal Weapon 4 (1998)

The "Lethal Weapon" Films - Part 2
Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)
d. Richard Donner, 114 minutes, 118 minutes (director's cut)

Film Plot Summary

The opening tune of the Looney Tunes theme was briefly heard with the introductory title. The story immediately opened in 1989, three years after the original film, with LAPD Sergeants Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson), still a "loose cannon," and cautious family man Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) bickered together as they were engaged in an exciting car chase after two vehicles with automatic weapons: a red two-door BMW (driven by a Caucasian blonde) and a blue car. Murtaugh's wife's brand-new station wagon became a wreck after its windshield was shot out - and was almost demolished by the end of the film. As Riggs held his gun pointed at the driver of the red car, he asked: "I'd like to see your driver's license and proof of insurance." The occupants of the blue car were rescued by a helicopter, but the red car crashed and ended upside down - however, the driver Hans (Mark Rolston) escaped. In the trunk, they discovered over a million dollars worth of gold South African Krugerrand coins (illegally imported into the US).

In their police office, Riggs loudly announced that Murtaugh's pretty young daughter Rianne (Traci Wolfe) was making her TV debut in a commercial that evening. Later, the two cops went to the Murtaugh home, where carpenter Mickey McGee (Jack McGee) was constructing an upstairs hobby room (for Murtaugh's continuing dream of retirement and fishing) above the two-car garage. In the living room, the family watched the commercial - shockingly for Ramses' Extra Condoms. The carpenter admitted: "She made me want to go out and buy rubbers right now." Although everyone was complimentary, Murtaugh was stunned and embarrassed. Riggs joked: "In one ear, out the rubber."

Hans reported back to his ruthless South African boss, Arjen Rudd (Joss Ackland) and was shot in the forehead by Rudd's Adolf Hitler look-alike henchman Pieter Vorstedt (Derrick O'Connor) for losing the Krugerrands. Hans' body was wrapped up in a plastic sheet on the floor, as Pieter quipped: "You give a whole new meaning to the word 'drop cloth,' Mr. Rudd." To warn off the police, Pieter and other thugs (dressed in black ski masks) entered the Murtaugh home in North Hollywood, threatened Roger and his wife Trish (Darlene Love) in their bed after duct-taping their mouths and hands: "After this, it gets bloody. Now you tell your people to back off. Don't you go being a smart Kaffir. Maybe we let you live, huh?" [Kaffir was an offensive racial slur - a South African term for a black person.]

To cool things down, Riggs and Murtaugh were reassigned, by police Capt. Ed Murphy (Steve Kahan), to provide "protective custody" (baby-sitting) for about three days for a Federal witness about to testify in an inquiry into drugs and laundered money - Leo Getz (Joe Pesci). In his Marriott hotel room, the cops were introduced to the runty, bothersome, CPA accountant Getz, who quipped: "Whatever you need, Leo Getz. Ya get it?" The loudmouthed pipsqueak, known for non-stop chatter and an eager-to-please manner would chirp breathlessly: "Okay, okay, okay." Almost immediately, one of Rudd's assassins, posing as a room service delivery person, attempted to kill Getz. Riggs jumped at him, and three of them crashed through the 7th story window and dove into the outdoor pool below. When the killer got away, the crooked accountant Getz admitted his crime: "All I did was launder a half a billion dollars in drug money." He happily divulged his clever scheme: "You take a tax deduction on interest payments that you don't even make. Am I an innovator? Am I a genius?" Riggs replied: "You're a swindler." Getz rationalized: "Everybody cheats a little bit. Look at the Pentagon." Leo remembered that during his laundering schemes, he was taken to a home on stilts in the hills, and he volunteered to take them there.

They found the stilted house on their ninth try, where Riggs saw the criminals counting large sums of cash inside. When the thugs were confronted, Riggs recognized the 'waiter from the hotel' fleeing with a bag of cash, and driving off with a stolen tow-truck (and car in tow) parked outside. Riggs pursued on foot and jumped on the moving vehicle - hanging on for his life. Murtaugh and Getz followed behind in the station-wagon, and watched as the suspect crashed the truck in a series of collisions and was beheaded by a flying surfboard. They returned to the stilted house with other police officers and attempted to arrest the gang - but were stymied when the pompous Arjen Rudd identified himself as the Minister of Diplomatic Affairs for the South African Consulate, with full diplomatic immunity under the Diplomatic Relations Act. Riggs made fun of their names: Arjen "Aryan" Rudd, and Pieter "Adolf." They were ordered to leave the premises, considered official South African soil, and threatened with being reported to the State Department. As they left, they met another member of the entourage, Rudd's pretty blonde consulate secretary Rika Van den Haas (Patsy Kensit).

Riggs and Murtaugh suspected that drug trafficker Rudd was involved in a new type of triangular trade: "Drugs to dollars to Krugerrands," but they were frustrated that he was beyond the law, unable to be arrested or prosecuted. Murtaugh found a rubber-covered tree plant on his desk as a practical joke, and he responded: "Go spit." The creepy Rudd rationalized to his secretary Rika that they had been harrassed earlier in the day because of anti-apartheid feelings among US police departments, often manned ("overrun") by blacks: "They have badges and guns and they hate us" - making them frequent targets of harrassment. Because of too many losses and the failure of their warnings, Rudd ordered his men to consolidate their cash profits into one final large shipment.

After pulling through a drive-through at a Subway sandwich restaurant, Leo delivered a long rant about his wrong order - he had ordered a steak sandwich, not a tuna sandwich: "They f--k you at the drive-through. They know you're gonna be miles away before you find out you got f--ked, OK. They know you're not gonna turn around and go back." The next day, Riggs discovered his partner Murtaugh imprisoned on his upstairs booby-trapped toilet rigged with an explosive device - triggered to be detonated when he stood up (the TP roll warned: "Boom, You're Dead!"). Riggs recommended calling in a bomb squad, and Murtaugh reluctantly agreed if things were kept quiet - but soon the neighborhood was blaring with sirens and swarming with police and fire/rescue squads. Riggs refused to leave his partner alone as they prepared to escape the blast by protecting themselves in the nearby cast-iron tub. Murtaugh asked: "I'm gonna die on the toilet, aren't I?", with Riggs' supportive reply: "Guys like you don't die on toilets." As they locked their hands together, and expressed confusion about the go-on-three rule (a running gag), they survived the explosion, with Riggs asking: "Get off me, man. I don't want anybody to see us like this!"

Getz and Murtaugh created a diversion in the lobby of the South African Consulate to distract the guards, while Riggs infiltrated upstairs into Rudd's office - and took a note from a paper pad reading: "Alba Varden, Thursday." He confronted Rudd and a number of his henchmen in the office ("Well, well, it's the master race"), and then proposed a deal: "You fold up your tents and get the f--k out of my country and I won't do anything to you. I'll leave you alone. 'Cause if you stick around here, I'm gonna f--k your ass. I'm gonna send you home with your balls in a sling. You got that?" He then blasted the office's glass aquarium, flooding the room, and as he left, told Rika when he passed her: "I've just been upstairs with your boss, shooting the breeze...shooting his fish." The words 'Alba Varden' sounded familiar to Murtaugh, but he couldn't recall what it was. After meeting in a grocery store, Riggs spoke to Rika and learned that she disapproved of her boss and his activities: "There are many things I don't like about my boss and my country." He invited her to have dinner at his trailer (parked by the rocky coastline), falsely claiming he was a gourmet cook. After drinking beers together, they had an extended bout of sex in his upper bunk, where he asked for a "seventh inning stretch," yet she complained: "we're only up to the fourth inning" - followed by his sexy reply "batter up" as she got on top. They were alerted to danger by Riggs' collie dog Sam, and interrupted by gunfire from two helicopters, leading to an exciting truck chase as they both fled from his bullet-peppered trailer via a trap-door in the floor.

Meanwhile Pieter Vorstedt declared 'war' on various members of the LAPD who had raided the stilt-house, including black officer Tom Wyler (Juney Smith), officer Meagan Shapiro (Jenette Goldstein) as she jumped off a diving board, and a group of officers during their poker night, including Tim Cavanaugh (Dean Norris) and Jerry Collins (Grand L. Bush). Assassins also targeted Murtaugh at his home (while guarding Getz), where he had gone to view an old home-made family fishing trip videotape - he realized that "Alba Varden" referred to a South African ship, not a woman - it was Rudd's means of smuggling drug money out of the US. When Murtaugh was attacked by two of Vorstedt's men, he stopped them with his carpenter's nail gun ("Nailed them both!"), but Getz was kidnapped outside as he waited in the station wagon.

After eluding the attackers and escaping unharmed with Rika ("This is the most incredible first date I've ever been on"), Riggs returned her to her apartment (when she promised him that she would quit her job the next day). Back at his truck, he was knocked out by Vorstedt, who also kidnapped Rika. Riggs was strait-jacketed next to the LA harbor, and taunted by Vorstedt about the death of his wife. Vorstedt admitted: "I'm the guy that changed the course of your life, man." Four years earlier, when Riggs was a Long Beach narcotics officer and getting "too close" to Vorstedt's/Rudd's drug operations, the gang member personally handled the contract put out on Riggs' life: "Drove your car right off the f--king road, remember? But of course, you weren't driving, were you? You can't imagine the surprise when I pulled back this matted mop of blood-soaked hair to see this woman's face. Your wife, right? She didn't die straight away... it took a bit of time." As he was thrown off the dock into the water, Vorstedt mocked him: "You don't have much luck with women, do you, Riggs?" Riggs quickly wriggled out of the strait-jacket by dislocating his shoulder (a skill demonstrated earlier), but then turned underwater to see Rika's drowned corpse. Enraged, he vengefully and brutally killed the two South Africans left on the dock (Vorstedt had driven off) - he twisted and broke one man's neck, and repeatedly slammed a car door into the second man's head. Riggs phoned partner Murtaugh, distraught: "They killed her. She's dead. They killed them both." He vowed to take things personally from now on, first attacking their headquarters in the stilt-house: "I'm not a cop tonight. It's personal...I'm gonna get 'em and f--k 'em. I'm going there now." In support, Murtaugh left his badge in his desk drawer, and they joined forces.

At the stilt-house, Leo was being beaten up by Vorstedt and his thugs for betraying them and stealing their drug money. Riggs wanted personal vigilante revenge after all the murders: "How much f--king authority do you need?" To rescue Leo and kill the gang members at the stilt-house, Riggs' plan was to signal Murtaugh (after attaching cables to the supports of the house and pulling it down) - who was simply to "then just go in and shoot those f--kers." The house collapsed and toppled down the hillside as Getz was freed, and all of the gang members were killed except the fleeing Vorstedt. Leo drove Murtaugh's car back to the police station to wait for the Federal Marshal, while the two cops pursued the drug smugglers to the dock where the Alba Varden (registered in Hamburg) was being loaded, bound for Cape Town, South Africa the next day. They discovered a massive steel cargo container with packed crates of plastic-wrapped drug money inside ("Billions of f--king Donald Trump lotto") and a Mercedes vehicle. They were locked and sealed inside by Rudd with the intent of being suffocated after days of travel. As the container was being loaded by a crane into the hold, the two broke open its door by ramming it with the car. Money floated in the air into the LA harbor, as Riggs and Murtaugh used ropes to rappel down onto the deck of the ship.

In the film's final confrontation between Rudd, Vorstedt, and the two cops, Riggs was forced to fight hand-to-hand against Vorstedt, who had stabbed him in the leg with a knife. Riggs eventually used the knife - painfully pulled from his leg - to stab Vorstedt in the abdomen. But to ensure his death when he pulled out his gun, Riggs pressed a control panel button that dropped the heavy cargo container onto him. From a higher deck, Rudd fired upon Riggs and injured him, as Murtaugh rolled to safety and attempted to arrest Rudd: "Drop it, asshole!" But when Rudd held out his wallet-ID in front of him and claimed: "Diplomatic immunity," Murtaugh ignored him - and shot him in the head through his ID photograph: "Just been revoked!" Murtaugh then rushed to the side of his seriously-injured partner, worrying that he would die ("You're not dead until I tell you"). He knew his pal would be OK when Riggs asked for his cigarettes in his pants pocket and joked: "I want you to throw those things away. Those things will kill you." Riggs asked: "The bad guys. Did you get 'em?" Murtaugh quipped as they both laughed: "They been de-kaffir-nated." Riggs cajoled his "beautiful" friend to give him a kiss before the police arrived, and Murtaugh responded: "Where'd that bullet hit you, anyway?" The film ended with Riggs begging Murtaugh: "Don't make me laugh."

Film Notables (Awards, Facts, etc.)

With one Academy Award Oscar nomination: Best Sound Effects Editing.

With box-office gross receipts of $147 million (domestic) and $228 million (worldwide), and one of the most successful films of 1989.

This sequel was both more violent (a surfboard decapitation, a container crate death, nail-gun deaths, lots of gunfights, a helicopter gunship attack on a trailer, neck-breaking, drowning, etc.), had more profanity than the original, especially when Gibson's character vowed revenge with four-letter words, but it featured natural and fresh rapport-and-bickering between the two male leads. And this one featured topless nudity in the love-making scene between Gibson and Patsy Kensit. Many reviewers rated this film as the best of the series.

Sgt. Martin Riggs
(Mel Gibson)

Sgt. Roger Murtaugh
(Danny Glover)

Rianne Murtaugh
(Traci Wolfe)

Leo Getz
(Joe Pesci)

Arjen Rudd
(Joss Ackland)

Rika Van den Haas
(Patsy Kensit)

Pieter Vorstedt
(Derrick O'Connor)

Capt. Ed Murphy
(Steve Kahan)

Greatest Film Series Franchises - Sections
Series-Introduction - Index to All Films | Series-Box Office

Previous Page Next Page