VHS Revival gives Blockbuster a whole new meaning with Lethal Weapon 5.
Some sequels were just never meant to be, and probably for good reason. Still, it doesn’t stop us from wondering what might have been if producers had taken that extra punt, resuscitating long-dead characters with the aim of squeezing an extra few million, and as a consequence plunging their once-cherished creations deeper into the realms of ignominy.
And what of those movies which never received the sequel treatment? There are probably reasons for that too, both noble and financial, but whether or not the continuation of those stories was commercially viable, from a fan standpoint, it would be interesting to know just what happened to those long-forgotten characters after their arc was put out to pasture.
In a new, ongoing series, VHS Revival pitches those movies we all dreamed of one day seeing. Whether those pitches are worth a damn is entirely up to you . . .
Lethal Weapon 5: Back in Business
Danny Glover‘s Roger Murtaugh has finally grown too old for this shit and popped his clogs, and since his partner’s death Riggs has not been the same, retiring to a wheelchair and feigning immobility as he mourns the loss of not only his most cherished friend, but wife Lorna, who has long-since grown tired of his self-pitying antics and run off with the once upstanding Capt. Ed Murphy, now played by Chris Pratt.
Meanwhile, long-suffering partner, Leo Getz, has seized the opportunity to turn the tables, taking a token job as a care home assistant and doing everything in his power to torment his one time tormentor: loosening the lid on his salt shaker, cutting holes in the crotch of all his pyjamas and making sure all the good doughnuts are taken by the time the desert trolley reaches his room.
One day a mysterious old-timer (Jake Busey) takes the room opposite Riggs, and the once super cop is immediately stirred by the striking resemblance the character has with his long-deceased nemesis Mr. Joshua (Gary Busey). Soon Riggs’ favourite chocolate bar becomes strangely absent from the reception’s vending machine, and after a frank confrontation with initial suspect, Getz, the two team up to take down their resident conspirator and foil his snack-led dose of familial vengeance.
Edge of the Seat Moment
After noticing a young Joshua’s door ajar, a still-in-denial Riggs wheels himself to the doorway and peeps inside. As Riggs had suspected, the newcomer has a giant stash of Mars bars piled up against his wall, unaware of Martin’s presence as he catches up with the latest episode of his favourite daytime soap opera.
Hearing a noise at the other end of the corridor, Riggs hastily puts his wheelchair in reverse, but the creak of a loose floorboard gets Joshua Jr’s attention, causing him to stop mid-bite and quietly swallow. Riggs tries to reverse a second time and clashes with the wall behind him. The footsteps at the end of the corridor are drawing nearer while Joshua rises from his seat and heads towards the door, noticing the shadow of someone’s wheelchair out in the hallway.
When Joshua finally sticks his head out he finds nobody there. Turning to his right, he then sees care home assistant Leo Getz pushing an unidentified patient towards the dining area. Joshua Jr’s eyes narrow suspiciously. Fade to black.
Biggest Blockbuster Sequence
After locating the missing Joshua Jr. in the cafeteria after hours, a squirming Leo Getz comes under fire from a barrage of mushy leftovers and takes cover behind a dinner tray. Leo pleads with his aggressor after a splodge of mashed potatoes leaves him temporarily blinded, and as Joshua reams off his Bond Villain motives, the squeak of a wheelchair plunges the cafeteria into silence.
Joshua and Riggs lock eyes, and after a moment’s hesitation a giant grin appears on our antagonist’s face. Just by looking into his eyes Joshua knows that Riggs is finished. The once ruthless Vietnam veteran who took out a guy in Laos at high winds is a long-buried remnant, a fact that our hero is also convinced of.
Suddenly Riggs hears a voice calling out his name. ‘Riggs!’ ‘Riiiiiiiggggsss!’ It may be a ghost. It may simply be a figment of his imagination. Whatever the case may be, there is no denying who the voice belongs to. It’s Murtaugh, and the glint in his partner’s eye finally returns.
Gripping the wheels of his chair, Riggs swells with determination and begins to pick up speed. As he gains momentum the wind unleashes his long dormant mullet, the buttons from his lumberjack shirt popping off and revealing his chest. Joshua’s eyes widen to a realisation. Riggs is back and careening towards him, and for the sake of cinematic tension he will not be moving out of the way just yet.
As Riggs nears his target the retired super cop leaps from his chair, his arms held out and grabbing as the image of all those Mars bars flashes through his head. Still blinded from the dollop of mashed potatoes, the ever bumbling Leo intercedes. ‘I’m coming, Riggs! I’m coming!’ he exclaims, frantically waving his dinner tray in the air.
Riggs screams for his friend to stay back as his torpedoing frame ricochets off the tray, sending him flying towards the kitchen’s stove and resulting in the kind of blockbuster explosion once synonymous with the franchise.
Best Comedic Sequence
Whilst sitting on the John, Riggs hears a bleeping sound and immediately thinks back to the infamous scene from Lethal Weapon 2, leading to a screenplay-padding flashback sequence. Riggs calls for the nurse waiting outside but refuses to accept her assistance. Instead, he requests the presence of former friend Leo, who sees the error of his ways and is only too happy to oblige. Riggs also requests a bomb blanket, but is forced to settle for the regular kind.
Once in the bathroom together, Riggs and a crouching Leo make amends, recalling their times together with Roger while vowing to never fall out again. The two of them them count to three and take their death-defying leap, failing to realise there’s no bath and crashing headlong into the wall. As the two of them lie there staring at each other, Riggs’ retirement watch bleeps for a second time.
Moment of Catharsis
After the dastardly Joshua Jr. is taken to the big house he is quickly released without charge, but at least the vending machine in reception is once again filled with Mars bars. In spite of this, Riggs feels strangely empty, and Leo asks him what the problem is.
The problem is Lorna (Renee Russo), and the thought of her running around with Chris Pratt. Hearing this Leo has an idea, and with the blessing of Roger, now watching over them from the heavens, the two set about putting their plan into action.
It’s the final scene, and Lorna and Pratt pull up in his Mercedes and go and grab a coffee at Starbucks. But what’s this? The two of them park in a manner in which an inch of their back tire has encroached on a No Parking Zone. Looking over at a police cruiser from the backseat of Leo’s Fiat, Riggs nods his head and an officer exits the cruiser. He pulls out a ticket book and writes them a ticket, a fact that seems to infuriate Mr Pratt no end. Lorna calms her man down but in reality she is embarrassed beyond shame. After a congratulatory high-five Riggs breathes a huge sigh of relief.
‘Let’s go home,’ Leo beams, and the two friends drive towards the LA traffic.
Cedric Smarts: Editor-in-Chief and Art Director
Science fiction author, horror enthusiast, scourge of plutocracy, shortlisted for the H. G. Wells Award, creator of vhsrevival.com
Likes: 80s poster art, Vangelis, classical liberalism, dystopian allegories, dissident political activism, Noam Chomsky, George Orwell, George Saunders, John Updike, Kurt Vonnegut