Overall Grade: (B-)
While this film clearly focused more on an action-comedy theme it was still very entertaining and provided an enjoyable, but much more lighthearted adventure than its predecessors.
By the time this third film in the series was released the “Lethal Weapon” brand had become a known-name in Hollywood. It had been six-years since Riggs and Murtaugh first hit the screen as partners and with the two prior films raking in a fortune there was definitely some pressure for this third entry to be success.
The series would try to adopt a larger target audience and lighten the tone of the script. They also added more comedic moments, and brought the humor to the forefront as opposed to it being more subtle in the prior films. Rene Russo was added to the cast as was Stuart Wilson in the role of villain, with Joe Pesci reprising his role of the shifty Leo Getz, also receiving a much larger role to bring in more comic-relief.
Riggs and Murtaugh have been dropped down to foot patrol for a mishap that resulted in an entire building being destroyed. When giving a man a jaywalking ticket they see a robbery attempt of an armored truck. After pursuing the criminals and capturing one of them, they find evidence that leads them to a corrupt cop who is running an illegal arms ring with police confiscated weaponry being the supply. Internal Affairs Agent, Lorna Cole (Russo) is investing the case and crosses paths with the veteran detectives. Reluctantly the trio begins working the case together, and the stakes are increased as the course of the case once again comes dangerously to close to Murtaugh’s home.
The first thing I noticed with this film was clearly a lighter tone. Despite the angle of Murtaugh killing a friend of his son, the overall feel of the film was not near as serious as the first two. It didn’t kill the enjoyment however as the final result was still a fun adventure with likable characters and quality subplots woven neatly into the framework of the focal theme.
The script was heavy on the comedic attempts and lacking in the true ‘Lethal Weapon’ quality of the first two films. The villain in this one was rather generic, as was most of the action that consisted of some great action sequences and stunt work, but suffered from a pedestrian approach to the fight scenes and gun-play. While I understand the angle of taming the character of Riggs a bit as he embraces the possibility of a love interest, his over-the-top rage while attempted, ultimately seemed to miss the mark in this one, especially in regards to the fight-sequences.
The violence of the action was toned down to three-stooges quality slap-stick at times. The chase scenes were pretty good and fun to watch but other than that I don’t feel the action met the level set in the prior works. On the bright side this film still had many strong elements in its favor. While yes the comedy was a focal point, on the positive side it was well written humor, that landed most of the time without feeling forced or cheesy.
The chemistry between Glover and Gibson carried the entertainment level in this one and watching their interactions never gets old and can only be more appreciated as the film embraces their inevitable aging. Russo was also a great fit for this movie and was easily able to step right in with the rest of the cast seamlessly and her performance made for a solid leading lady in the film and a nice fit for Gibson’s love interest. Pesci’s added scenes were fun and translated to some repeated laughs as well.
While this entry in the series was missing the intense impact of the first couple films it still wound up being a solid action-comedy with Gibson and Glover being perfect for the buddy-cop persona. Even though there was an abundance of one-liners and jokes they were still pretty funny and served as a nice contrast to the more deeper moments, and explosive action-sequences this one also delivers.
Time: 118 min
MPAA Rating: R (For violence and language)