Franchise Evolution: Lethal Weapon vs. Die Hard (part 2 of 2)

Stage III: Adequate Thirds

Franchise Evolution: Lethal Weapon vs. Die Hard (part 2 of 2)

Lethal Weapon 3 (1992): Directed by Richard Donner, starring Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Joe Pesci, and Rene Russo

The third entry falters, with a sub-par script and a rather annoying stretch of preachiness following Murtaugh shooting his son’s gang member friend to death. It’s really a needless development, and comes off as an excuse for Danny Glover to do some actual acting as opposed to just muttering, “I’m too old for this shit!” for two hours.

Granted, there was some social consciousness stuff in the second film, but Richard Donner kept it subtle… sort of. Here though, he brings the movie to a halt in order to stage a mini-sequel to Boyz n the Hood sandwiched in between the action beats. It stops the movie dead in its tracks, which is not good when the hallmark of your franchise is its relentless pace.

On the other hand, it does have a great opening sequence with an impressive building explosion, and Rene Russo makes a nice addition to the regulars as Riggs’ new love interest, an IAD officer named Lorna Cole. Joe Pesci is back too, though if you really stop and think about it, he has no reason at all to be here. Seriously.

The villain is also rather weak when compared to the ones in the first two. Stuart Wilson does a decent enough job, but when you’ve had hilariously evil South Africans and Gary Busey, a Brit playing a disgraced ex-cop selling stolen guns to gang members doesn’t quite cut it.

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Ed Harris

A fan of less than great cinema since childhood, Ed divides his time between writing scripts, working an actual paying job and subjecting himself willingly to some of the worst films society has produced.

Multi-Part Article: Franchise Evolution: Lethal Weapon vs. Die Hard
Tag: Franchise Evolution

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  • Christopher Woerner

    I know it’s a minority opinion, but I loved “Lethal Weapon 4.” It’s my favorite in the franchise. The first two are better movies, but the second two are my favorites because they were perfect live-action cartoons. I loved the way they added a new character with each movie and the new characters fit. The humor and the banter and the slapstick really helped the characters and the story so that it meant more when they needed to get serious.

    I’m not an action movie fan – I’ve seen “Die Hard I” exactly once in my life which is probably sacrilege among action movie fans – but I would put all four “Lethal Weapon” movies high up on my list of best fight scenes and car chase scenes ever. That’s probably more to Richard Donner than anything else, but I think the whole franchise worked very well through four movies. Hell, I’d love to see a fifth movie with Murtaugh and Riggs as crotchety desk drivers while a minor subplot involves young officers handling explosions and shoot-outs.