Tuesday, December 02, 2014
Lethal Weapon 3
Directed by Richard Donner and screenplay by Jeffrey Boam and Robert Mark Kamen from a story by Boam, Lethal Weapon 3 is the third film of the film series where Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh team up with an internal affairs officer in pursuit of a former LAPD detective who has turned into an arms dealer. The film has Riggs and Murtaugh not only deal with a former cop who is selling guns to young men but also for the fact that the latter is retiring as Mel Gibson and Danny Glover reprise their respective roles as Riggs and Murtaugh while being joined by franchise regulars Joe Pesci, Darlene Love, Traci Wolfe, Damon Hines, Ebonie Smith, Jack McGee, Mary Ellen Trainor, and Steve Kahan reprising their roles from previous films. Also starring Rene Russo, Gregory Millar, and Stuart Wilson as Jack Travis. Lethal Weapon 3 is a sensational film from Richard Donner.
The film has Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh not only deal with a former cop who has become an illegal arms dealer to fund his own real estate venture as they’re joined by an internal affairs officer who is investigating the case. Meanwhile, Murtaugh is set to retire in less than a week as he isn’t just coping with the need to retire but is also confronted with the severity of his case which involves armor-piercing bullets known as “cop-killers”. Teaming up with the internal affairs officer Lorna Cole (Rene Russo) and getting help from friend Leo Getz (Joe Pesci), Riggs and Murtaugh not only take on the case but also deal with how intense it is as their antagonist is Jack Travis who is a man that knows every police code and how to get around them. Yet, he is driven by greed and chaos as he used to be one of the good guys only to be so corrupt that he was kicked out of the force.
The film’s screenplay, which features additional contributions from Carrie Fisher, doesn’t just explore these two cops trying to uncover this case of illegal arms dealing but also for the fact that young African-American men are the ones who are buying these guns. Even as Murtaugh would shoot a young man with one of those guys who is revealed to be one of his son’s friends as he becomes consumed with guilt as he would withdraw himself from everyone including his own family. This would force Riggs to continue the investigation with Cole for a while as the two develop a rapport with one another over their love of violence and the Three Stooges. Once Riggs gets Murtaugh back in the game as he reveals how Murtaugh’s retirement affects Riggs, it becomes clear how special this partnership is as Riggs knows Murtaugh is teetering on the edge as he would protect him.
By the film’s second half, Murtaugh starts to display a bit of craziness as his grief becomes the driving force to confront those who had been dealing weapons as it would lead to some discoveries about Travis’ real-estate ventures as they seek Getz’s help. Getz’s appearance in the film definitely adds a lot of humor as he has reinvented himself as a real estate dealer as he tries to sell Murtaugh’s house while he is someone that can get connections about Travis’ line of work which does lead to this explosive third act where Riggs, Murtaugh, and Cole confront Travis and his men not only to save their friends in the police force but also stop Travis from killing men on the force.
Richard Donner’s direction starts off with a bang where Riggs and Murtaugh try to defuse a bomb only to make things worse as it plays to that mix of action and humor. Especially as it takes place in the span of more than a week as Murtaugh is spending his final days as a detective until he retires. Much of the compositions are simple as Donner keeps much of the humor light-hearted and natural for gags such as Riggs trying to quit smoking or Murtaugh dealing with an admirer he met during a chase. Still, there is a balance to the humor and action in the way Donner plays out as well as some light-hearted moments where Riggs is definitely part of Murtaugh’s family as he would be the one to find Murtaugh at his lowest as it’s one of the most powerful moments of the film.
The direction is also sprawling in terms of the action set pieces from the opening sequence of a bomb destroying a building to some chase scenes. Notably a chase scene in the third act where Riggs and Murtaugh save Captain Murphy from Travis as Riggs borrows a motorcycle to chase Travis and one of his goons onto an unfinished highway. All of which leads to this very violent and elaborate climax that shows why Riggs and Murtaugh are the last two cops that should be messed with. Add Cole to the mix and there is more trouble as she is a total ass-kicker as the result is an explosive climax that also includes bits of humor. Overall, Donner creates a very exciting and funny film about two detectives who are joined by an internal affairs officer in taking down a former cop who has gone bad.
Cinematographer Jan de Bont does excellent work with the cinematography to capture the sunny look of the scenes set in Los Angeles including the nighttime climax scene with its use of fire and elaborate lights. Editors Robert Brown and Battle Davis do brilliant work with the editing with its use of rhythmic cuts to play into the action and suspense including the chase scenes as well as some of the film‘s funnier moments. Production designer James H. Spencer, with set decorator Richard C. Goddard and art director Greg Papalia, does fantastic work with the look of Murtaugh‘s home as well as Riggs‘ trailer home in a renovated state as well as some of the places such as the precinct where Riggs and Murtaugh work at.
Sound editor Robert G. Henderson does nice work with the sound to play into the sense of chaos that goes in the gunfights as well as some scenes set in the Los Angeles subways and at a hockey game. The film’s music by Eric Clapton, Michael Kamen, and David Sanborn is superb as its mixtures of blues, orchestral music, and jazz play into the air of suspense and action as well as some humor that includes variations of the Three Stooges theme while the soundtrack features songs by Sting and Elton John.
The casting by Marion Dougherty is incredible as it features notable small roles from Andrew Hill Newman as a jaywalker Riggs and Murtaugh harass, Gregory Millar as an associate of Travis in Tyrone, Nick Chinlund as an arms dealer working for Travis, Jason Rainwater as a young rookie cop that would help in saving Captain Murphy, Mark Pellegrino as an associate of Travis who gets arrested early in the film, Bobby Wynn as Nick’s friend Darryl, Jack McGee reprising his role as the carpenter from the previous film as he helps Riggs renovate his home, Delores Hall as the bank security driver who is attracted to Murtaugh, and Mary Ellen Trainor as the police psychiatrist Dr. Stephanie Woods who keeps asking Murtaugh to come see her in a very awkward moment with him and Riggs.
Ebonie Smith and Damon Hines are terrific in their respective roles as Carrie and Nick Murtaugh who are hoping for the dad would retire while Traci Wolfe is wonderful as the eldest daughter Rianne who is trying to make it as an actress as she asked Riggs to find her dad when he didn’t come home over the shooting of Darryl. Darlene Love is excellent as Murtaugh’s wife Trish who is anxious about her husband’s impending retirement as, in the extended cut of the film, has him not forget his bulletproof vest while asking Riggs to keep her husband out of trouble. Steve Kahan is superb as Captain Murphy who knew Travis when he was once a cop as he is later captured by Travis in order to get access to some weapons. Stuart Wilson is fantastic as Jack Travis as this former cop who has become an arms dealer in order to fund his own real estate ventures as he is a really fun and sly antagonist.
Rene Russo is great as Lorna Cole as this internal affairs officer who leads the investigation over what Travis is doing as she proves to be an absolute ass-kicker who doesn’t take shit from anyone making Riggs fall for her. Joe Pesci is brilliant as Leo Getz as he brings in that great sense of humor as he tries to help Murtaugh sell his house while aiding them in finding clues relating to the case. Finally, there’s Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in marvelous performances in their respective roles as Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh as the two maintain that sense of chemistry of mayhem and hilarity while also showing their vulnerable side during an intense moment involving a grief-stricken Murtaugh. Even as the two switch personas for a bit where Murtaugh gets a bit crazy and Riggs being the straight man as Gibson also displays a lot of humor in his performance that includes a very funny scene where he tries to win over a guard dog by acting like a dog.
Lethal Weapon 3 is a remarkable film from Richard Donner that features thrilling performances from Mel Gibson and Danny Glover plus strong supporting performances from Rene Russo, Joe Pesci, and Stuart Wilson. The film isn’t just one of the finest action blockbusters of the 1990s but also one of the funniest. It’s a film that has something for everyone while also having something for the smart audiences as well as audiences that want some excitement. In the end, Lethal Weapon 3 is a phenomenal film from Richard Donner.
Richard Donner Films: (X-15) - (Salt and Pepper) - (Twinky) - (The Omen) - (Superman) - (Inside Moves) - (The Toy) - (The Goonies) - (Ladyhawke) - Lethal Weapon - (Scrooged) - Lethal Weapon 2 - (Radio Flyer) - (Maverick) - (Assassins) - (Conspiracy Theory) - Lethal Weapon 4 - (Timeline) - (16 Blocks) - (Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut)
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