Lethal Weapon 3

Directed By: Richard Donner

Starring: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Rene Russo, Stuart Wilson, and Joe Pesci

By the time 1992 came rolling around, Lethal Weapon was well-established as the premier buddy cop franchise.  After the successes of Lethal Weapon and Lethal Weapon 2, Richard Donner, Mel Gibson, and Danny Glover had nothing to prove.  Nonetheless, Lethal Weapon 3 happened.  To make things interesting in this third time around, we have a new cast member in Rene Russo.

Riggs (Gibson) and Murtaugh (Glover) arrive at the scene of a bomb threat.  They enter an evacuated building and attempt to deactivate the bomb before the LAPD Bomb Squad arrives.  Instead, they accidentally detonate it and blow the building.  This gets them demoted to uniform duties by an outraged Captain Murphy (Steve Kahan).  Somehow, Riggs and Murtaugh still find their way into mayhem and chaos on the streets of Los Angeles.

Riggs and Murtaugh happen to be on the scene of a crime in progress.  Bank robbers are fleeing the scene, and these two chase them down.  In the process of getting these bad guys, Riggs and Murtaugh learn that the crooks have armor-piercing rounds.  After taking the robbers into the police station for questioning, they found a lead on former cop Jack Travis (Stuart Wilson) and would like to pursue it.  There are just two problems.  They're uniformed officers now and have lost their rank as sergeants.  The other problem is that Sergeant Lorna Cole (Russo) of Internal Affairs is intent on keeping them off the case.  Things change though when Captain Murphy reinstates them.

The third time out is always a challenge, and that definitely holds true for Lethal Weapon 3.  From the moment it starts, you can tell that the Lethal Weapon franchise has lost a little of its luster though it's not for a lack of trying.  We've got the whole gang intact, but the magic just isn't quite back.  The laughs are there, but there's something with this action thriller that's definitely out of whack.

Mel Gibson and Danny Glover have natural on-screen chemistry as Riggs and Murtaugh, but the bromance goes a little too far in this one, especially during a drunken scene on Murtaugh's boat.  I always enjoy seeing these two together, but the chemistry between Riggs and Murtaugh gets a little sappy at times.  That's why I'm glad they introduced Rene Russo's Lorna Cole.  As Riggs's love interest, she breaks up the magical bromantic relationship between Riggs and Murtaugh.

Richard Donner nimbly tackled the social issue of anti-apartheid in Lethal Weapon 2.  He did so without compromising the entertainment value of the film.  Donner tries to do the same for gun control and gang violence in Lethal Weapon 3.  This attempt fails miserably though.  Tangentially covering social issues and cueing sappy music such as Boyz II Men's "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye" does not work in an action thriller like a Lethal Weapon.

While I definitely enjoyed Lethal Weapon 3, it's not in the same league of the first two films.  I'd definitely have a few rounds of beer for this outing with Riggs and Murtaugh.  Lethal Weapon 3 gets a 0.06% rating.  Stick around after the credits start rolling for a few extra laughs.