Archive Review: “Lethal Weapon 3” (1992) – 2.5/5 Stars


Like most ’90s sequels, “Lethal Weapon 3” proves the third time’s a flop. The movie isn’t horrible. It’s watchable and provides the antics fans of the first two films have come to expect, but it offers no stimulation. It’s flat, uninspired and typical. Riggs and Murtaugh aren’t pushed in new ways or given any opportunity to grow as characters. Riggs (Gibson) is up to the same wisecrackery and Murtaugh (Glover) is still “too old for this ****.”

The plot is pretty standard. Murtaugh is days from retirement (isn’t he always days from retirement?) when Riggs sets off a bomb he was trying to diffuse when he should’ve waited for bomb squad. Gosh, he’s so darn reckless that Riggs! You’d think writer Jeffrey Boam (“Lethal Weapon 2,” “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”) would stop leaning so hard on blanket personality descriptors of the characters. Anyway, the two get demoted to street duty where as luck would have it, they witness criminals taking something in an armored truck. They end up getting wrapped up in a major LAPD case involving an ex-cop stealing tons of automatic guns and selling them to gangs and such.

The story never captures the full scope of what’s going on. There’s little sense of urgency and the alternative technique of mystery isn’t used either. Murtaugh and Riggs just continue to be in the right place at the right time to catch bad guys in the act leading to pivotal turning points. I failed to feel any sort of emotion while watching the action in this film, I merely assumed something good would happen but not even Richard Donner could deliver on the action front.

Another point to harp on is supporting cast. Boam brought back Joe Pesci’s character in a small role where he’s selling Murtaugh’s house and also trying to get in on the action. Pesci is one of those actors that you either want to focus on or forget about because he’s either very good or too much. Obviously in “Lethal Weapon 3” he’s the latter. Rene Russo also joins as the martial arts-savvy Internal Affairs sergeant whom Riggs gets the hots for, naturally. Just the mere technique of throwing in a love interest cop for Riggs to get serious about (which he does to not believable effect) is offensive to those who have a sense of what effort a sequel needs to make to be any good.

Apathy would be the best way to describe the way one receives “Lethal Weapon 3.” Whereas its predecessor was infinitely more imaginative and impressive as a sequel, the horse needed to complete this trifecta was too similar and just dressed up to look different. Much of it is being stale, much of it is just not being a good script.

2.5/5 Stars

“Lethal Weapon 3” (1992)
Directed by: Richard Donner
Written by: Jeffrey Boam, Robert Mark Kamen, Shane Black (characters)
Starring: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Rene Russo, Joe Pesci


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