Saturday, April 23, 2016

Movie #356: Lethal Weapon 3

Lethal Weapon 3 is, of course, the third in the series, directed by Richard Donner and starring Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Joe Pesci, Darlene Love, Traci Wolfe, Damon Hines, Rene Russo, Stuart Wilson, and Steve Kahan.

After facing absolutely no repercussions from flat-out murdering a bunch of foreign nationals in their previous big adventure, Riggs (Gibson) and Murtaugh (Glover) blow up a building in LA and are busted down to patrolman a week before Murtaugh is planning to retire. Foiling an armored car robbery gets them mixed up in the machinations of Jack Travis (Wilson), an ex-cop stealing guns and selling them to gangstas. Internal Affairs, in the personage of Sgt. Lorna Cole (Russo) is tracking all this, and of course it all ends with gunplay. Yay!

The movie has some twists and turns, though, and one of them kinda bugs me. It's this: Murtaugh shoots a teenage gang member (Bobby Wynn), who happens to be a friend of his son Nick (Hines). And this absolutely wrecks Murtaugh. This is a guy who has callously, casually killed...hell, at least a dozen people between Lethal Weapon 2 and 3 alone. Sure, he knows this kid, but that somehow makes it weirder. And you could certainly make a salient point about a black police officer shooting a black teenager, except a) this kid clearly had it coming, he was firing an automatic weapon at the cops and b) these particular cops commit premeditated murder on a movie-ly basis. So the funeral with Boyz II Men playing feels a little strange.

But, the bright spot of this movie is, without question, Rene Russo. She's basically the intersection of Riggs' martial prowess and Murtaugh's (rather shaky) integrity, and she brings modern know-how to the party as well. And yet she's not "Riggs only better;" she's got some holes in her capabilities (she's afraid of dogs, for one). We actually get to see her working with the boys and making some headway, and then kicking ass...and then in Lethal Weapon 4 they just knocked her up and let her do nothing the whole movie. Ah, well.

I also enjoy the fact that Murtaugh thanks Leo (Pesci) during this movie; the cops still bust his chops, but they also appreciate what he can do and they mostly just fuck with him to keep him out of the way of the police stuff. And, hey, the girlfriend gets to survive the movie, so that's an improvement.

My Grade: B+
Rewatch Value: Medium

Next up: Howl's Moving Castle