Writer Max Landis has demonstrated his ability to be a quick-thinking creative in the past, delivering off-the-cuff commentary and story ideas at the drop of a hat. In a recent interview with Grantland for his latest film, “American Ultra,” he was challenged to pitch a new sequel to “Lethal Weapon,” the classic buddy-cop series with Mel Gibson and Danny Glover. The “Chronicle” scribe jumped at the hypothetical chance, and came up with a completely plausible and entertaining concept.
“American Ultra” director Nima Nourizadeh at first suggested it would be a reboot, an idea Landis squashed rather quickly. In fact, he even suggested that they bring back Chris Rock as one of the “young cops” Gibson’s Riggs and Glover’s Murtaugh are charged with training.
“The final ‘Lethal Weapon,’ if I have to pocket-pitch it right now, is Murtaugh and Riggs are asked to work with a group of, like, four cops who are younger, who were all involved in an action movie that we didn’t see,” Landis began. “You hear the report, and it sounds like a ‘Lethal Weapon’ movie: ‘They drove a school bus off of an oil rig?’ Then Murtaugh and Riggs are assigned to take them on like an Outward Bound program and try to teach them to be better cops and respect authority. Then it turns out the villain from the action movies that we missed is coming to kill them. Murtaugh and Riggs in the woods for the first time in any of the movies, with four characters we really like, do a slasher movie.”
He went on, “That works, but I’m sure there’s a better way than that. That’s the one that jumps to the front of my eyes, because you want them to be sitting around the campfire, being old men. You don’t want them to be like Bruce Willis in ‘A Good Day to Die Hard.’ You remember that scene from Lethal Weapon 3 where they are on the boat and they get in the argument and they start crying? That’s writing right there.”
The sudden and flowing train of thought didn’t surprise Nourizadeh at all, as he noted, “This is exactly how he pitches, by the way.”
Elsewhere in the interview, the pair discuss a possible “American Ultra” sequel, the trouble with working on big-budget superhero films, and how Hollywood strong-arms independent talent. You can read it all at Grantland.
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