Picks and Pans Review: Lethal Weapon 3
A flippant movie about brutal, stressed-out L.A. cops does not exactly deserve a social consciousness award for Warner Bros. at this point. But otherwise, this third-generation sequel is no more offensive than its progenitors. It's also not as original or entertaining.
Gibson is still the manic partner, who would just as soon sucker-punch a suspect as read him his rights ("You have the right to remain unconscious," he tells one arrestee). Glover is still a walking lump of offended dignity as the serious partner, who's now threatening to retire. Pesci, with his abrasively grating, nasal voice and unidimensional comic acting style—every action leads to an unequal and opposite overreaction—herewith wears out his welcome. Having played a shady accountant in Lethal 2, he returns as a real estate salesman who tries to help Gibson and Glover track down a ring of arms thieves who are stealing impounded automatic weapons from the police. Russo (One Good Cop) is the proverbial pretty face (though Gibson, in his ponytail, is hard to upstage).
As a tough, internal-affairs cop meddling in a gun case, Russo never seems convincing, nor is she athletic enough to pull off the scene where, using martial arts, she manhandles five villains.
Richard Donner, who directed the first two Lethal films, handles this one too in the sort of chaotic, overloud, violent style that producer Joel Silver is known for (Die Hard, 48 HRS., The Last Boy Scout, etc.). Writers Jeffrey (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) Boam and Robert Mark (The Power of One) Kamen, show a moronic sense of humor and language. The expletive "Oh, s—t!" is used as an all-purpose punch line, and Russo's main device for showing toughness is to swear a lot. The Boam-Kamen wit never gets more sophisticated than having Gibson say to Russo, as he ushers her into a men's room for a confrontation, "Let's have a meeting in my orifice."
There's a romantic subplot involving Gibson and Russo, but its chemistry is of the lukewarm Kool-Aid variety. Even the frequent, frenetic chase scenes are barely distracting, since they're shot from mostly confusing, difficult-to-track angles.
Although Gibson and Glover still interact with ultimate buddy-movie camaraderie, their byplay is so lamely written as to dilute even their considerable appeal. (R)
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