In these rapey-sequel times, it takes a real man to stand up against the bloated revivals of franchise whose glories are long past. And while we'll assume that there is more to the implosion of Lethal Weapon 5 than just one jilted director's story, we'll take Richard Donner's perspective for now as some of the most reassuring news we've heard since doctors disclosed that Indiana Jones would recover from his violent auteurist tag-teaming last week. Saving it from Joel Silver's own heat-seeker makes it all the better.The film would have been the first installment in the series since 1998, when Lethal Weapon 4 grossed $285 million globally for Warner Bros. Original Lethal Weapon screenwriter Shane Black had a script out to Joel Silver, who wanted Black to direct after their collaboration on Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. The rest is speculation — which is just fine with Donner, who is on the outs with Silver and hypothesized that Mel Gibson vetoed the project himself out of loyalty to his six-time director:
"I would like to think that Mel turned it down because I wasn't involved. Knowing Mel, I would like to think that. Would that be the kind of thing he does? It sure would be." ... "Joel Silver tried to ace me out of it. He tried to put it together but made sure he didn't do it until my contract was up. You know, it's typical of the man. A guy who wasn't even around at the beginning when we started on the first one. He came in late."
In our perfect world, we imagine the actor forgoing the project after calculating the combined age of the Donner/Gibson/Danny Glover braintrust at 182 — younger than the Spielberg/Lucas/Ford trinity's 188 as they consider their own franchise's ill-advised fifth installment, but still. We'll take any rationalization if it means we don't have to see Silver forcing Glover to squeal like a pig two years from now on South Park. Crisis averted.