Lethal Weapon 3 (1992)

(Second viewing, On DVD, November 2017) I first saw Lethal Weapon 3 on VHS in the mid-nineties, and while I still remembered a few things (the armour-piercing climactic shootout, the great “let’s compare scars” romantic scene), I had forgotten much along the way. (I do remember much of the promotional chatter surrounding the film and its sequences involving the destruction of a construction project, and the co-optation of a planned building demolition.)  In retrospect, Lethal Weapon 3 still marks a transition between the buddy-cop movies of the late-1980s and the overblown action movies of the mid-1990s. The Lethal Weapon series straddle both, of course, and watching this third instalment is like plunging back in a sadly neglected subgenre: Sunny Californian action with plenty of laughs, dubious moral foundations and an overall sense of conscious excess. I miss those kinds of movies where every stunt is an attempt to be even bolder and bigger than the previous one (although Lethal Weapon 3 has its best action sequences well before the climax). I miss the banter between charismatic leads such as Mel Gibson and Danny Glover. (Most of all, I miss the time when you could watch Mel Gibson and not have to account for his personal issues.)  I miss the anything-goes nature of plotting where just standing on the street could lead the characters to an armoured car heist and then on to a corruption scandal within the LAPD (and a hockey game sequence because why not?). What I don’t miss is the casual police brutality played for laughs and some of the coincidental nature of the plotting. Still, Lethal Weapon 3 generally works. Including Renee Russo as a true romantic partner for Mel Gibson’s character is a welcome development, and even Joe Pesci is acceptably annoying. While the result isn’t much more than a competent example of the subgenre, it holds up compared to other movies of the series, and the kind of film it intends to be.

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