Franchise Evolution: Lethal Weapon vs. Die Hard (part 2 of 2)
Stage III: Adequate Thirds
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.