"Lethal Weapon 2"
"Lethal Weapon Collection" Soundtrack Review
Eric Clapton & David Sanborn
Featuring "Cheer Down" Performed By
George Harrison (Disc 2) and
"Knocking On Heaven's Door"
Performed By Randy Crawford (Disc 2)
La-La Land Records
Disc 1: 16 Tracks/Disc Time: 65:17
Disc 2: 15 Tracks/Disc Time: 60:13
Total Time: 125:30 Grade: A-
(BEST OF 2013/14)
After the surprise blockbuster success of "Lethal Weapon" in 1987, it was only natural for Warner Bros. to put a sequel on the fast track soon afterwards and with that bigger salaries and a fresh new storyline. With Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, streaking hot producer Joel Silver, director Richard Donner and writer Shane Black returning, "Lethal Weapon 2" was originally intended by Black to be the swan song of Martin Riggs, but Warner Bros. thought differently and instead of killing their cash cow, proceeded differently with Black's approval. For this highly charged sequel, Riggs and Murtaugh are back and this time they're up against a South African diplomat named Rudd (Joss Ackland, "Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey") who with sinister henchman, Vorstedt (Derrick O'Connor) are smuggling drugs, money and gold Krugerands illegally out of the U.S. under "diplomatic immunity." They also have to babysit a Federal witness, a slick motormouth accountant named Leo Getz (Oscar Winner Joe Pesci, in a terrific role "Goodfellas") who actually has knowledge of a connection between the South African smugglers and the Federal Investigation he's about to testify in. Riggs finds out about the death of his beloved wife, Victoria that is also connected to the South African diplomat and starts his own little private vendetta to get to Vordstedt in which they soon in turn declare war on the LAPD squad and Riggs and Murtaugh's partners are being assassinated one by one soon after including Riggs' new love interest Rika (Patsy Kensit). Riggs and Murtaugh declare war on them and expose the smuggling operation and settle their personal scores.
The film was a major hit when the film arrived in the Summer of 1989 with solid reviews and Joe Pesci earning most of the acclaim literally stealing the film from Gibson and Glover. As in the first film, music plays a major part in the continued development of the friendship/partnership of Riggs and Murtaugh, while adding a playful trumpet solo for the Leo Getz character and a slithery theme for the South African smugglers utilizing the marimba (a vibraphone styled instrument), percussion and frenetic brass, This score without question is easily the most aggressively dark in the series due to the film's tone largely in part and in particular for the grand finale and uncertainty of Riggs' living or dying culminated in the song "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" performed by Eric Clapton as well as the lovely Randy Crawford. The film is principally the "Empire Strikes Back" of the entire series and one that has grown on my personally after hating it the first time around.
The score gets off to a frenetic start with "Main Title/Chase the Red BMW/Krugerrand", with Kamen intropolating the famous Looney Tunes "Merrily We Roll Along" as an in joke that leads into the action of the opening and lengthy car chase where Kamen unleashes relentless action from the get go that is bigger than the original score. Kamen shifts to even darker elements for the latter half of the film and integrates a little of the frenetic material but shifts from Riggs and Murtaugh's themes to suspense and elegaic material as their colleagues are being killed off one by one ("Wyler is Shot", "Card House Explosion/Rika Lerve/The Alba Varden/Nail Gun Fight") along with Riggs' girlfriend ("Carrying Rika on the Beach"). Kamen unleashes his fury as does Gibson during the memorable and relentless musical action material in "Helicopters Approach/Helicopter Attack", "Stilt House Falls", "Locked Into A Container/Out of Container/Ship Fight" and "Ballet Fight/Riggs is Shot" which are exceptional highlights. Kamen does have some fun with the South African theme as well intropolating it nicely with the Riggs, Murtaugh and Leo Getz material in "Sneaking Into the Embassy/So Long And Thanks For The Fish/Leo Loses Door", "Rubber Tree/Goodnight Mr. Rudd", "Haunting Rudd" and "Pieter Shoots Hans/The Gold Pen/Rog Is Taped/Hotel - Meeting Leo/Pool Fall"and bringing back a great action piece from Lethal Weapon in the frenetic "Mulholland Drive" which is quite similar to the "We're Leaving" track from that film only more varied and orchestrated differently with more emphasis on percussion.
La-La Land's second set of scores in this excellent collection finally unvails the score as it was meant to be released, which is 80 plus minutes of musical nirvana that really builds upon the original in more expansive and nuanced ways that the original Warner Bros. album (included in this set on Disc 2 featuring the songs) didn't. Kamen's score is much more intricate orchestrially that the full of extent of it was buried under sound effects in the film and wasn't fairly represented on the album. This time around you get the full power of the score along with the more expansive contributions by Eric Clapton and David Sanborn. The second set in this stirring collection will be the dark horse favorite of the bunch for many who get this box and with more listens they will really appreciate it more and more. I know I have and I'm starting to personally think that it's the best of all of them. Thumbs way way up for LW2!