US Release Date: 05-15-1992
Directed by: Richard Donner
- Mel Gibson, as
- Martin Riggs
- Danny Glover, as
- Roger Murtaugh
- Joe Pesci, as
- Leo Getz
- Rene Russo, as
- Lorna Cole
- Stuart Wilson, as
- Jack Travis
- Steve Kahan, as
- Captain Ed Murphy
- Darlene Love, as
- Trish Murtaugh
- Traci Wolfe as
- Rianne Murtaugh
Russo and Gibson get turned on by their scars.
This time around, Murtaugh is now a week away from retiring from the force. Rianne is now a working actress, and his house is up for sale. Riggs meanwhile, has suddenly become a stupid jerk.
The first scene is of Riggs and Murtaugh outside a deserted building, with explosives inside. The bomb squad is on the way, but Riggs decides they can take care of the bomb themselves. The two go inside, with Riggs making jokes the whole time. Lethal weapon 2 established that Riggs was no longer suicidal, yet this film threatens both character's life for no apparent reason other than to have the two of them get to run out of a building as it explodes.
For acting immature, they are both busted down to patrol officers. Here Riggs acts like a complete asshole by harassing a guy for j-walking. He even pulls his gun out on him and threatens to shoot him. Sure, he is joking, but the guy does not know that.
This scene also introduces us to a plot device that gets old very quickly. Just after scaring the j-walker, they just happen to be standing within sight of a robbery. At another point, Murtaugh and Riggs get shot at by some gang bangers they just happened to stumble on as they were making a drug deal. One of the gang members turns out to coincidentally be one of Murtaugh's son's friends.
Pesci was one of the brightest spot in Lethal Weapon 2. He is back, but it does not make any sense. He is now a realtor selling Murtaugh's house. The guy laundered and stole large amounts of money, but Murtaugh, a veteran cop, still trusts him to sell his home?
Lethal weapon 3 has plenty of action, but the characters are no longer likable. Murtaugh now seems dumb. He hired Getz. He has no connection with his son. He allows Riggs to endanger him. Riggs is now too obnoxious to root for. In one scene he just happens to find himself near where Rianne is filming a scene. Riggs overreacts and gets Rianne fired. He then physically assaults the director. Riggs is kind of an asshole in this film.
Lethal Weapon 3 keeps some of the traditions going. This time the social statement is about youth violence. Murtaugh kills a young gang banger, and later a baby faced cop gets shot. "There's kids out there, babies, no brains, but they got automatic weapons!" The WTF moment is when Riggs makes friends with the guard dog.
The best thing about this movie is the addition of Russo as a tough Internal Affairs officer. The scene where she and Gibson compare scars is classic. The rest of Lethal Weapon 3 though, is pretty much just mindless action and absurd coincidences.
Mel Gibson, Danny Glover and Joe Pesci in Lethal Weapon 3.
This morning I was in the mood for a mindless comedy/action flick. Lethal Weapon 3 certainly fits that bill. The third installment in this successful buddy/cop franchise from the 80s and 90s is not a completely horrible way to spend a few hours. But it’s nowhere near as entertaining as it thinks it is. Riggs and Murtaugh exhibit their usual easy camaraderie but – in the tradition of the first two movies – it has several WTF moments as well as throwing in some out-of-place melodrama.
I pretty much agree with everything Eric wrote. I disagree only with his statement that Murtaugh has no connection with his son. Sure his son is at the age where he's exploring his independence but there is a very nice scene between the young man and his father where Murtaugh advises his son on shaving technique. Once again the scenes at the Murtaugh house are some of the best in the movie.
As this was 1992 the violent gangbanging culture in Los Angeles was at its peak. This leads to the out-of-place melodrama I mentioned when Murtaugh, Riggs and Lorna attend the funeral of the young thug - and former friend of Murtaugh’s son - that Roger shot defending himself and Riggs. The father of the dead boy misplaces the blame by telling Murtaugh that if he wants to make up for killing his son he should find the man that put the gun into his son’s hands. As if his son had no choice or personal responsibility in turning to a violent life of crime that led to his own death at the hands of a cop.
Eric already mentioned the WTF moments. The entire opening bomb sequence for example, which serves no purpose other than showing a building being blown-up. When Martin and Roger get forced to walk a beat as uniformed cops any semblance of reality goes out the window. Would they really bother to demote a cop like Murtaugh a week before he retires? And it does seem as if everywhere these cops go a crime occurs. Leo Getz as Murtaugh’s real estate agent is a lame excuse to include Pesci in the story.
The central case revolves around a corrupt former cop peddling illegal weapons. Russo’s Lorna Cole joins the boys in bringing him down. She’s a bad-ass martial-arts-trained cop that - in yet another WTF scene - fights half-a-dozen bad guys while Riggs and Murtaugh look on. For anyone old enough to remember them, Lethal Weapon 3 provides some mild nostalgia for the early 90s. It also manages a few decent action scenes but methinks they went to the well one time too many. Oops, make that two times too many since they made a fourth installment in 1998.
Rene Russo and Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon 3.
This movie, even more than the previous installment, is nothing but WTF moments. I mean this series has always been known for being over the top, but this installment is ridiculous. It has as much in common with the first Lethal Weapon movie as a Roger Moore Bond has in common with Doctor No. The character's names are the same. There's a passing resemblance to the earlier film, but too many lighthearted and jokey moments undercut nearly all of the tension.
The opening scene with the exploding building is the first such moment. It has nothing to do with the plot and feels, as Eric pointed out, as if it were tacked on simply so the story could literally start with a bang. Given that this was made in the days before CGI, I rather suspect that the filmmakers simply heard that this building (which is actually the former city hall building in Orlando Florida) was going to be torn down and decided to get in on the action and paid to be able to blow it up themselves so they could include it in a movie and so this opening scene was written.
Not only is that opening scene not pertinent to the plot, but it actually makes little sense. As Eric pointed out, Riggs is no longer suicidal, so why does he risk his and his partner's life? And, after the building explodes and the duo run out of the building, everyone looks at them as if they knew what the two of them had been up to inside the building. How did everyone know that Riggs had cut one of the wires? How do they know that the bomb didn't just explode on time? It's obviously just an excuse for Riggs and Murtaugh to get busted to patrolman (another plot point that goes nowhere and makes no sense).
As for Leo being included in the plot, reportedly the script was finished without his character, but the studio wanted Pesci to appear. Instead of rewriting the script to include any logical reason for his return, his character was just grafted onto the plot after the fact. There's no good reason for Murtaugh to trust him or to even want him to sell his house.
The moment that made me say, “WTF?” loudest though, was the funeral scene. How incredibly tactless is it of Murtaugh and Riggs to show up at the funeral of the boy Murtaugh killed? Yes, I know that his son was friends with him, so I can see why he would want to go, but did no one stop to think that the boy's parents might not want the man who murdered (no matter how justified) their son to attend his funeral?
Amongst all the silliness there is some halfway decent action. There's even a nice bonding moment between Riggs and Murtaugh on Murtaugh's boat, but up until that point, the mood has been so featherweight that the attempt at drama feels as though it belongs in another movie entirely.
I do agree that Russo's character brings some fresh life to the series. She's a great match for Riggs. And speaking of the 1990s, just get a load of her blue jeans. Remember when women wore their pants with waistbands that high?
This series has always tried to balance action, humor and a small amount of drama. By this third installment though, the scales were tipped way too far into comedy. Gibson and Glover still share a great chemistry, but a script that made sense and didn't try to turn every situation into a joke would have made for a much better film.
Photos © Copyright Warner Bros. Pictures (1992)