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Lethal Weapon 4


The policeman as family man

Action movies usually end with massive explosions. Without fear for their lives, the people are unlikely to admire their heroes, to say nothing of the necessary ingratitude of mankind. Also, the excitement makes heroes attractive. This movie starts with such an explosion. A man in an iron suit is firing an assault rifle & flame-thrower in the middle of the street, at night. Just the sort of thing to make heroes earn their glory…

The men realize that risking death has its drawbacks. Amidst gunfire, they learn they are about to welcome babies into their families. – Then Riggs gets Murtaugh to distract the madman by running around naked. – Riggs must marry again. Even Chinese illegal immigrants are surprised he does not marry the woman. Murtaugh saves these people because they are slaves & he hates that. He quotes The New Colossus. He might have done better with Jefferson or Lincoln.

Promotions to captain to keep them off the streets. The storied American dream is our theme. Still, they run around fighting, even though Riggs nowadays fakes injuries to get out of fights. Murtaugh has a drink with the Chinese paterfamilias; they talk about kids & grandkids, they toast a drink, Murtaugh makes him a gift of a policeman’s watch. They are both law-abiding, because they love their families, & think America is their last best hope.

Chinese triads attack Murtaugh’s house & promptly teach the American cops what ruthlessness comes with martial arts. Men who live peaceful lives are not prepared for such skill. In fact, Americans no longer understand how slavery works, much less why some Chinese would enslave other Chinese. Further, Chinatown does not really abide by American laws; it is ruled like a Chinese enclave by people who are Americans only formally.

Corruption is endemic & defines the way favors & goods are distributed by tyrants to subjects. But the Chinese also are family men, not just the immigrants yearning for freedom or mere survival, but also the criminals. Even a gang of thieves needs justice to trust each other: Family relations underlie successful criminal organizations. But they corrupt formal rules by creating competition for favors, whereas family love should teach citizens that they are equal.

Murtaugh’s house is burnt to the ground; he must start anew, now a grandfather. His son-in-law takes a bullet for him, so now he’s family, even though he knocked up his daughter. Riggs must move out of his beachside trailer. The woman tells him she loves him so much that she will have him with or without marriage. Now that she’s pregnant he feels he must marry her. This does not bode well for the American family & therefore for America.

The fourth, last installment of the series. See it.