Lethal Weapon 3 from 1992 may feature latter-day, unfunny Joe Pesci and sport a villain as threatening as the managing director of Cranbourne Homes, but it’s got real heart and a great foil for the duo in the form of Rene Russo as Lorna Cole, an initially po-faced Internal Affairs sergeant who softens once she and Gibson compare old battle wounds. And there’s Murtaugh, inconsolable at having killed a machine pistol-wielding gang member, one of his son’s friends.
In the augmented reality of most shoot-‘em-up actioners these days, it seems unthinkable you’d take 20 minutes out to have our protagonist grieve over a justified shooting. And this leads to Riggs and Murtaugh’s confrontation on a boat, Murtaugh numbing the pain with alcohol, Riggs admitting that Murtaugh’s the only family he has, and retirement for one is retirement for both.
Amongst moments of near-slapstick comedy spread liberally throughout the film, this is one of many scenes that’s played with absolute solemnity, cementing the emotional bond between these two mismatched cops – and our relationship with them. Lethal Weapon 3 is profane, funny, not hugely inventively directed, but darker than you may remember – kids with guns, a sad end for a fresh-faced rookie, police corruption – and it all hurtles along at a giddy pace.
Here’s a little taster:
Words: Ash Verjee