Thursday, March 27, 2008

Lethal Weapon 3 (Unrated Director's Cut)

The Action Mutant…
is really getting too old for this shit (and has probably used this line already)!

Lethal Weapon 3

review by Joe Burrows

(written January 13, 2008)
"Well George, we finally knocked the bastard off."
- Sir Edmund Hillary, 1919-2008. A real action hero.

What else? Oh yeah, the third movie in a trilogy/series is usually the worst. Return of the Jedi, The Godfather Part III, Beverly Hills Cop III, um…Smokey and the Bandit Part 3! I know there are rarities to the rule (in fact, one of them was mentioned in the previous review) but the third film is usually the sign that the well of ideas has run dry. And for those that thought I forgot Batman Forever? I didn’t. Remember Batman & Robin? Brrrrrrrrr! (Note: This is a review of the unrated Director’s Cut, which is 3 minutes longer than the theatrical release)

The Plot, as it was:
Murtaugh and Riggs are back and trying to bust up an illegal weapons ring headed up by crooked ex-cop Jack Travis (Stuart Wilson). They aren’t alone, as they are teamed with a tough Internal Affairs agent named Lorna Cole (Rene Russo), who possesses the same penchant for artillery and Three Stooges shorts as Riggs does. Murtaugh is only a few days from retirement but that doesn’t stop him from having more than a few problems along the way. Oh, and permanent annoyance Leo Getz (Joe Pesci) is a real estate agent out to sell the Murtaugh’s home. “Ok, ok, ok…so it is a little bit of a fixer upper, ok?”

Don’t shoot me…I’m only the reviewer!:
Like Lethal Weapon 2, the third edition throws in all of the action, gunfire, groan-worthy one liners and crazy situations it can muster and then some. The only difference is, while LW 2 walked the tightrope between amazing and outright absurdity, 3.0 is seemingly more on autopilot. The main issue is that the film tries to be more epic and encompassing than it really deserves to be. For example, more acknowledgements come about that both Murtaugh and Riggs aren’t exactly spring chickens anymore. Though that’s a given, the charm that goes along with their usual act grows stale as well. There are laughs but the stretches between them are the widest they’ve been (this is the reason why I don’t own the 4th one and why you most likely won’t get a review on it soon). There is a side plot dealing with gang warfare and it feels more tacked on than it is any sort of message trying to be made. To its credit, the addition of Russo is refreshing in that a strong, female presence brings some needed punch (figuratively and literally) to the proceedings. Pesci’s act is a mixed bag again but his presence does bring much needed energy when he’s in it. But when all’s said and done, the edition lacks the kinetic spark that the first two had and it shows everywhere. Even Wilson’s heavy (though played well) is one note and pretty much assembly line. And trust me, assembly line Riggs’ craziness is not a pretty thing.

Character/Supporting Actor Sighting!:
- The venerable Sven-Ole Thorsen (LaFours in Mallrats) is a different mercenary.
- Jan de Bont (director of Speed) is uncredited as a Dutch cameraman.
- Jack McGee returns as McGee the carpenter (only in the Director’s Cut, as his scene is deleted in the theatrical version).

Body Count/Violence: 17. The action is more about explosions and chases the third time around. There’s a fair share of gunplay, along with fighting, going through windows, drowning by cement, car crashing, electrocution, etc. Alas, nothing on the scale of the “projectile surfboard” from the previous film.

Sexuality/Nudity: Nothing. I wished the “wound comparing” scene would have gone on a bit further (you know you wanted it to, too).

Language/Dialogue: Still strong at some points, especially when Pesci paraphrases his “they fuck you at the drive-thru” speech.

How bad was it?:
Some critics were kind (i.e. Ebert’s *** star review) and some started to notice the series’ age at this point. It must have its popular status with the audiences because…

Did it make the studio’s day?:
Lethal Weapon 3 opened in theaters on 5/15/92 and…(once again) spent the first three weeks at #1! Crazy, huh? Only this time it took a little over a month and a half to fall out of the top 10. Nonetheless, it earned Warner Bros. $144.7 in the U.S. (4th highest in ’92) and $321.7 worldwide (total). Guess you can’t blame them for wanting that 4th one made, eh?

Film: **1/2/*****
Entertainment value: ***/*****

Copyright 2008 The Action Mutant.

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