It has been 22 years since we last saw detectives Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) and Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) in Lethal Weapon 4, and after this long, it seemed like we had seen the last of this cop duo. Yet despite them claiming they’ve been too old for this for decades, it sounds as though Riggs and Murtaugh are coming back for the fifth installment of their series.
In an interview on Good Morning America, Mel Gibson gave an update on Lethal Weapon 5, making it seem like the film is very much on the way. Gibson said, “The man who was behind all of that, the man who brought it to the screen and gave it the goodies is working on it right now, Richard Donner. He’s a legend.”
There have been rumors for years that another Lethal Weapon was on the way, especially after the Lethal Weapon series wrapped its run on Fox. But Mel Gibson’s confirmation seems like the closest thing we’ve got to actual proof Lethal Weapon 5 is in the works. Earlier this year, Dan Lin, who produced the Lethal Weapon series also said that Lethal Weapon 5 was in the works. Lin said that the original cast and Richard Donner would be returning.
Back in July, Danny Glover said there were conversations about him and Mel Gibson returning to the franchise in January, and that Glover found a strong relevance to current events. Glover also mentioned that it would be an interesting take considering the political and economic framework we are currently in, and especially considering recent events involving police violence. Glover said, “If it does happen, there is something extraordinary in it.”
Danny Glover also makes an interesting point in this interview, pointing out how each Lethal Weapon film has a deeper focus on larger issues. Glover said, “One [film] was about drug proliferation; one was about arms proliferation. One focused on South Africa.” The fourth film also dealt with human trafficking. It would especially be interesting to see what take Lethal Weapon 5 would have on police brutality, especially considering how Mel Gibson’s Martin Riggs was known as a loose cannon.
Which maybe the biggest problem of all about Lethal Weapon 5 is Mel Gibson himself. After drunk-driving incidents, anti-Semitic statements, and investigations of domestic violence, Gibson isn’t exactly the star he was back in 1998. While Hollywood started to reaccept him with the release of his 2016 film Hacksaw Ridge, which earned a Best Picture nomination, and a Best Director nomination for Gibson, the actor is still not at the levels he once was.
If anything, Mel Gibson has leaned into his negative persona in recent years. Gibson played the villain in 2013’s Machete Kills, a crooked cop in 2018’s Dragged Across Concrete, and the toxically masculine father to Mark Wahlberg in 2017’s Daddy’s Home 2. Gibson is currently doing press for Fatman, in which he plays a darker version of Santa Claus. It will be interesting to see if Lethal Weapon 5 does continue this trend of Gibson embracing the villain roles.
While Mel Gibson says that Richard Donner is returning to direct, the 90-year-old director hasn’t made a movie since 2006, with the Bruce Willis and Mos Def-starring 16 Blocks. Donner previously directed all four Lethal Weapon films, so it makes sense that he would want to be involved. But after almost a decade and a half of inactivity, who knows if Donner will be up for Lethal Weapon 5.
In the aforementioned interview with Lin, beyond the return of Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, and Richard Donner, he says that Jez Butterworth is currently working on the script. Butterworth seems like a promising addition to this crew, and has had some strong action and dramatic work produced over the last decade. In 2014, Butterworth had both Edge of Tomorrow and Get on Up in theaters, and in the years since, he also wrote Black Mass, Spectre, and most recently, Ford v Ferrari. Butterworth’s next film is 2021’s Cruella, the live-action story of the One Hundred and One Dalmatians villain.
Even though Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, and Richard Donner are all apparently ready to go with this franchise, it’s unclear who else would return. When we last saw Riggs and Murtaugh, Lorna Cole (Rene Russo) had given birth to Riggs’ child. No word on it Russo would return. While Chris Rock did join the series in Lethal Weapon 4, his character wasn’t exactly essential to the plot, so it’s unclear if he’d even be needed in this upcoming installment. Even more unlikely is Joe Pesci, who came out of retirement for Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, before apparently going right back into retirement.
But if Lethal Weapon 5 could get back Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, and Richard Donner, to tell a strong, modern story that would theoretically wrap up this franchise once and for all, it might be worth bringing back Riggs and Murtaugh for one last ride. Whether or not audiences still care about these two policemen, or if Mel Gibson has done too much irreparable damage to his career to bring in massive audiences, we will just have to wait to find out.