Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Plot’s worth squat.
I always enjoy reviewing series, because you never really know what kind of pattern it’ll take…where it’ll jump the shark so to say. Oh wait, that’s TV, the movie equivalent is nuke the fridge. It happens a lot. The reality is that films don’t always choose when to end, the producers do. I got to say though, it’s been years since I actually watched the Lethal Weapon series, and I’m seeing very little nuking or jumping going on. Yeah, they all have flaws, but nothing substantial enough to consider a big mistake. Maybe it’s that Danny Glover is getting too old…but who cares? That’s his line anyway!
In the third film, the gang is back, hard at work…but they can’t really trust anyone at work. Turns out, there’s a dirty cop in the gang transporting heavy military artillery to kids on the street to do their criminal bidding. Riggs and Murtaugh must find this guy and put an end to what he is up to. Meanwhile, Murtaugh is busy trying not to get into trouble on his last week on the force before retirement and Riggs is trying to quit smoking (not the best plan when stressed out).
Not only is this plot predictable, it’s completely ignored throughout the film. Okay, not completely, but enough to look unimportant in the scheme of things. Focus in the film, instead, was on Riggs and Murtaugh battling their own battles at home and with each other (and Leo Getz). Guess what that means for the actual plot? It never advances. Think about how many times we’ve seen a dirty cop film. You know as well as I do that there is a lot of ground they could cover, but just don’t. Maybe they just didn’t feel confident in themselves. The second film was like Mission: Impossible – you couldn’t legally stop the bad guys…you could now, technically, which makes the effectiveness significantly lower…so they focused on the guys.
I won’t say focusing on Gibson and Glover was really a bad thing, it might have been the smarter move actually. They are still their old selves and still cracking jokes at each other and just having a good time. They are so much fun to watch that you forget the plot is kind of weak. Plot is important though, and that’s why my grade of the film dropped a bit. I won’t complain about performances though, because they once again do a great job and even bring something to the table in the form of emotion, especially from Danny Glover, who had to kill a friend of his sons after an unfortunate shootout.
There are less of memorable moments in this film because it’s mostly just ideas that are memorable. You’ll remember the film for Mel Gibson’s ponytail…not much of a better look. Without it, he still looks like Michael Landon, and for 1992, that’s pushing it a bit…but I get it, it is part of his character. You’ll remember it for Riggs attempting to quit smoking and getting “helped” by Murtaugh. You’ll remember it for the subplot of Murtaugh trying to retire, and you’ll remember it for when Murtaugh killed his son’s friend. Everything else can and will be forgettable, unfortunately. That includes the dirty cop plot and includes the floozy blond.
Truthfully out of all four films, the one I remember the most has got to be the fourth one. I remember specific things that happen in the film…but hey, that could technically just be because it’s the most recent in the franchise.
Lethal Weapon 3 isn’t a bad film. Danny Glover and Mel Gibson still deliver loud and proud with their never-ending friendship and always-realistic bickering. Respect and family is hugely centered on these two, and it always creates a nice dynamic.
Like I said, the plot is predictable, unimportant, and never advances because the filmmakers chose not to focus on it. I really think that hurt the film.
Martin Riggs: When you retire, you’re not just retiring you, man! You’re retiring us!