S P O I L E R S
The first Lethal Weapon was a gritty 80s cop movie, titled after the suicidal character in the story that kicks a lot of ass and has nothing to lose, that is until he gets paired with his family-man partner, Sergeant Roger Murtaugh. Many people critizize the Lethal Weapon sequels because of the fact that they are a little more on the humorous side, and Sergeant Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) has a semblance of sanity now that he has been taken in as part of Murtaugh's family. The odd-couple pairing that created strife and discord in the first one instead creates a good amount of chuckling-good-partner teamwork. If that isn't your cup of tea, then go watch the first one.
The movie opens with one of the serie's greatest assets, Slowhand himself, Mr Eric Clapton. This time he is accompanied by the vocal styling of Sting on the single It's Probably Me (1992). Donner uses some great slow shots of fire igniting along a black surface; when the camera pans out we see that it is actually a large number 3 written in flames. It turns out to be a nice segue into the first scene of the movie where Murtaugh and Riggs happen to arrive at the scene of a bomb-scare before the bomb-squad. Note that Murtaugh is 8 days from retirement at this point, and Riggs is chafing under the idea that he is to lose his partner. Riggs is able to talk Murtaugh into the building to put their non-existent bomb-diffusing skills to good use. Right. So they accidentally take out an entire building, at least they saved the cat! You can find an easter egg at the end if you wait until the credits roll through involving the boys and an unlucky building.
Of course, this little mistake doesn't go unnoticed, and our pair of crime fighters spend the first part of the movie on traffic duty. Don't worry though, this is a movie so they're not going to end up writing parking tickets or anything. They start off by curing a jaywalker of his criminal habits by pulling a gun on him and then are off to foil an armored-car burglary. Who would guess that the armored-car thief is mixed up with a dirty-cop that is trying to build a neighborhood subdivision off of guns and ammunition sales? OK, so he's an ex-cop, but that's still enough of a reason to get the lovely Sergeant Lorna Cole (Rene Russo) of Internal Affairs involved with the case, and Riggs. It's about time that he got a love interest that didn't keel over and die on him two scenes later. Bonus: she also kick major ass. I thought that the game of 'who's-got-the-baddest-scar' being the impetus to them finally hooking-up was perfect. Their repartee was funny without being pandering.
On the subject of Internal Affairs:
L: Police Police, oh that's very good Riggs. Can you say that three times in a row, real fast?
R: Why am I getting to ya, am I getting to ya?
L: Are you trying to bait me?
R: I'm a master of it.
Humour in the vein of Mad Magazine is what you're gonna get from the self-proclaimed Stooges lover. I wonder sometimes if Gibson himself isn't a big Three Stooges fan, but then, I guess I'll never know because he is a decent actor, considering only the one point that he's effecting an American accent for the majority of his movies. Riggs attempts to quit smoking in the sequel, but ends up just substituting one problem for another; dog biscuit addiction.
"Murtaugh: What dog biscuit problem?
Riggs: Well, I've been chasing more cars lately, and, uh, you know, when I try and lick my balls, I keep falling off the couch."
Lethal Weapon 3 does try to get serious at one point of the film, when Murtaugh is forced to shoot a teenager that is bearing down on him with an automatic weapon. It turns out that it's his son's friend, and we as the audience follow Murtaugh through his torment over the issue. The movie doesn't dwell too much on the problem of youth and guns but it is a damn site more than either previous Weapon movie. In a scene that seems quite realistic1, the Sergeants and family attend the boy's funeral, where when Murtaugh attempts to apologize he is slapped by the mother.
"Father: You want to do something, Sergeant Murtaugh? You find the the person who put the gun in my boy's hand."
The dirty-cop Jack Travis, it turns out, is supplying all kinds of people with cop-killers (armor piercing rounds) - including the sleazy underworld thug Tyrone, who in turn supplied the boy that Murtaugh killed, Darryl. Even after this, Travis is ballsy enough to kidnap the chief and break into the evidence holding area of the LAPD where anything from drugs to cash to ammo can be found. He also escapes after killing a couple of LA's finest. After a little forceful inquiry and some snooping around by the wily Leo Getz, the Sergeants and Lorna head out Travis' bloody subdivision for a fiery showdown. It all plays out rather predictably from there, with the only surprise being that Lorna survives after being shot down with cop-killers by Travis. She was wearing two vests.
Directed by Richard Donner
Screenplay - Jeffrey Boam & Robert Mark Kamen
Original Music by Eric Clapton & Michael Kamen & David Sanborn
Running Time: 118 min. Rated R
C A S T
Mel Gibson - Det. Sgt. Martin Rggs
Danny Glover - Det. Sgt. Roger Murtaugh
Joe Pesci - Leo Getz
Rene Russo - Lorna Cole
Stuart Wilson - Former police Lt. Jack Edward Travis
Steve Kahan - Capt. Ed Murphy
Darlene Love - Trish Murtaugh
Traci Wolfe - Rianne Murtaugh
Damon Hines - Nick Murtaugh
Ebonie Smith - Carrie Murtaugh
Gregory Millar - Tyrone
Nick Chinlund - Hatchett
Jason Meshover - Young Cop
Alan Scarfe - Herman Walters
Delores Hall - Delores
The scene is accompanied by the song, (It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to) Yesterday
by Boys to Men