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Lethal Weapon 3

Rated R, 118 min. Directed by Richard Donner. Starring Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Joe Pesci, Rene Russo.

REVIEWED By Steve Davis, Fri., May 22, 1992

It's bigger, but it ain't necessarily better. Lethal Weapon 3 starts with a big bang -- a bomb levels a downtown office building -- and ends with a spectacular firestorm in a suburban housing development under construction. In between those megadollar pyrotechnics, there's a car chase down the L.A. freeway (the wrong way, of course) and an underground chase in L.A.'s little-known subway tunnels. Although director Donner executes these action scenes with unquestionable skill, the thrill in watching them is nearly gone. After all, if you've seen one car chase and exploding building, haven't you just about seen them all? Gibson and Glover perform like pros, but their once amusing buddy-buddy rapport has lost its purpose. In the first installment of the series, Riggs and Murtaugh functioned as id and superego wearing a policeman's badge; now they seem little more than stock characters who fall just short of caricatures -- Abbott and Costello in blue. The irascible Pesci revives his weaselly role from the first sequel, but Lethal Weapon 3 could easily do without him. The only fresh twist in this otherwise stale movie comes in the form of Riggs' romantic interest, a tough-talking female cop whose martial arts aptitude gets him all hot and bothered. (The film's seduction scene has the two of them performing a calculated striptease on the pretext of comparing the scars each has received in the line of duty.) But never fear: this is still a guy's movie, through and through, down to the last shootout. Even if you overlook the fact that Lethal Weapon 3 is the same old thing cubed, you still may be struck by the difference between the glamorized violence onscreen and the unsettling violence recently seen in your living room. What you see in the theatre and have seen on TV may both take place in the City of Angels, but they're disturbingly worlds and worlds apart.
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