Sunday, November 15, 1998
By Ervell E. Menezes
THE black and white cop team of Murtaugh (Danny Glover) and Riggs (Mel Gibson) are at it again, but thanks no thanks, not my kind of entertainment Lethal Weapon 4 is where the weapons are more lethal, the action more explosive and the camaraderie, which was the biggest draw in the second and third versions of the film, much diluted. The special effects are more spectacular. Imagine a car chase in which one car goes through a glass-fronted skyscraper only to continue the chase as it lands back on the highway? Houses catch fire like matchwood and its crash-bang entertainment.
Yes, in a recent interview with Khalid Mohamed in Taipei, Mel Gibson said "I keep telling myself that its no point playing heroic guys because we dont see heroes around us anymore. If youre dysfunctional, you cant deal with life. So, Im constantly fighting my own demons. And I think Im succeeding. The older I get, the better I get."
May be thats what Gibson likes to believe, but in Lethal Weapon he and Danny Glover are dishing it out a lot though off and on they tend to give the impression they arent. Like when Martaguah tells his partner "cant stop the clock, Riggs?" But Im not for all the high action and director Richard Donner seems to be hooked on it. I rather preferred those camaraderie-heavy versions of Lethal Weapon. The new Chinese angle and its excuse for the martial arts dont really gel.
In that respect The Edge is a real surprise. Of course I know David Mamet is a good scriptwriter and Lee Tamahori and up-an-coming director after his Once Were Warriors but then big names dont always make good films and by big names I mean the actors too. After all Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin are not small fry by a long, long way. What I liked specially about The Edgeis that though most of it takes place in the wilderness and in the face of the dangers one in likely to encounter there, there is also an underlying story of love and deception and the love triangle is cleverly projected.
Producer Art Linson gives an idea of how the film evolved Davids screenplay started with him saying "Well its going to be one guy killing another guy but within a few days Mamet had them in the wilderness with a kodiak bear trying to kill them. And suddenly they had to find a way to connect in order to survive."
Actually the story is about at fashion model being photographed against the backdrop of the wilderness. Mickey (Elle MacPherson) is the sexy model and the two men in her life are her elderly husband and millionaire Charles Morse (Anthony Hopkins) and the handsome shoot-from-the-hip photographer Bob Green (Alec Baldwin). And when the men go out to look for a bear hunter to pose with the model they run into trouble.
"Never feel sorry for a man who owns a plane," Charles tells Bob and almost immediately after that the plane runs into low-flying geese and crashes. The pilot dies and its three men (the third is the photographers assistant) in the woods and survival is the name of the game. And though Bob is the younger and fitter of the two he has to depend on the wise and inventive Charles.
Charles is rich, intellectual and a bookworm who seems to know everything about anything. And yet he has never really lived a life at all. Hes got everything but yet hes got nothing. And then in the wilds he finds himself as a man. On the edge and within whispering distance of death, he discovers his true nature.
May be the bear attacks are a bit exaggerated but the manner in which these two rivals get along is graphically portrayed by Lee Tamahori. That he is aided by some splendid cinematography by Donald McAlpine, is another bonus. But the film is not just physical. It is cerebral and one can expect Anthony Hopkins to do justice to the part.
Alec Baldwin, apart from sporting his good looks, comes off well as the more vulnerable one in a crisis. As for Elle MacPherson she is merely ornamental though she is the cause of the tension between the two main characters.
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