Having proven themselves to be an action movie duo worth sticking around for, Mel Gibson and Danny Glover joined forces again for Lethal Weapon 3 in 1992 and the film did reliably well at the box-office but how did the film compare to the franchise's previous two outings?
It's easy to forget how serious in tone the first Lethal Weapon was, with Martin Riggs (Gibson) having suicidal tendencies and all, but if you were to skip the sequel and watch this third instalment right after the original you'd probably think you had somehow stumbled onto a live-action cartoon version of Shane Black's cop movie classic by mistake. Indeed, while Lethal Weapon 2 pushed the comedy aspect of the two main characters' unlikely friendship a tad more, this movie is mostly a straight-up lolfest with the exception of a couple of more emotional scenes. By giving Joe Pesci's mouthy informant/real estate agent Leo more screen-time, the film runs the risk of turning the character into the series' very own Scrappy-Doo plus the emphasis on old man jokes with Murtaugh (Glover) planning to retire also feels a bit too tame as subject matter.
Luckily, this is still an action movie directed by Richard Donner so it's well made and very entertaining. The main action sequences are mostly just car chases but the stunts are as wild as always and they're ultimately completely enjoyable, even when comic relief is carelessly thrown in. Of course, Danny Glover and Mel Gibson work remarkably well off each other and their characters are always likeable. The film's main villain, played by Stuart Wilson, is admittedly not all that memorable but the idea of a bad guy pushing armour-piercing weapons onto the streets is a valid threat for our heroes to worry about. The addition of Rene Russo as a martial-arts savvy Internal Affairs Sergeant is a good idea as she proves useful to the plot and fits in with the main duo really well without chewing any scenery like Pesci does.
It's not surprising that critics were less enthusiastic about this third Lethal Weapon outing as it's easily the weakest in the original trilogy with a script too packed with bad jokes and the emphasis on comedy starting to get a bit tiresome. Still, it's a fun action movie with some solid performances and decent action sequences so it's worth checking out if you like the genre.
Enjoyable if lesser follow-up.