I continue the job and getting through these classic films. Or classic series? I dunno, they are certainly zeitgeist-y. I've reviewed the first and second one and have kindly linked you to them. What, you haven't read those yet? Well they are VITAL to understanding the plot of this one! So you HAVE to read those first.
Did you do it? I waited for you and everything. Let's talk about this movie!
Before I get ANYWHERE though, I just have to say: thank you saxophone. Your sultry tunes let me know that I am entering a period of time where your beautiful tones filled every song and every film. Saxophone, you are so wonderful. I love you, saxophone. You make me feel good.
Seven days until retirement is where we begin this movie. Murtaugh really is getting too old for this. It is a big part of the character's plot, and it slowly seeps through the story's first act for some great character moments between two men who have become really great friends, nah closer than that, brothers. Riggs hurts because Murtaugh really is getting too old, making small mistakes, getting tired, and just not quite up to snuff any longer. Unfortunately, that is only in the first act. Then Rene Russo just takes over as Pesci and Murtaugh are written out of the plot for waaaaay too long. I forgive it some because Murtaugh comes back with a fantastic scene of emotion and great acting that a dumb action film like this one doesn't deserve. Pesci doesn't overstay his welcome, and Russo becomes a good member of the cast as well.
The real plot is about internal affairs and corrupt cops. And it opens with another Supernatural guest actor getting killed by his bad guy boss. Kind of hilarious how that little detail has repeated now. We also get more 90s commentary, this time on the effects of gang life.
The opening building blowing up is so good and visceral and real. A thing I've come to love about these films is Richard Donner's intense visuals he creates. Intense car chases, multiples of them, with just a whole bunch of incredible shots, all practical. Props to you, guys.
This film pays off a lot of nice things, like all the work that was being done to Murtaugh's house is now paying off as they are selling it (to start with). Of course, we cannot have a Lethal Weapon without some work being done on SOMEONE'S house, so now it is Riggs' place getting a deck. Hell, the whole climax is in a housing development. Just something about skeleton houses is what Lethal Weapon is all about as a franchise. The daughter's condom commercial has become a part in a film. Not the condom commercial, but her doing the commercial in the second film becomes ... whatever, you understand. Leo gives another "they f**k you" speech, this time about hospitals. We even get Riggs popping his dislocated shoulder back in, except it is the other shoulder this time.
Now, the plotting is not as tight as it could be. It sort of feels like an afterthought. There are a LOT of conveniences. Conveniently being at the bank when the bad guys steal the bank truck. Conveniently being at a burger joint when gang stuff happens just a bit a way, which conveniently involves Murtaugh's son's friends. Conveniently being in the elevator with love interest/internal affairs Rene Russo. Conveniently Pesci recognizes the dirty cop who is the bad guy, who they only know is dirty because IA conveniently installed hidden cameras in the interrogation rooms. We also get "young kid cop looks up to the leads, dies, on his birthday no less" to go along with the above mentioned "few days left until retirement." I don't know if this movie made these tropes or not, but I kind of doubt it, which definitely means it is crazy to have them all worked in. They are worked in fine, and fit thematically with the film, but ...
Ok, so tropes are a lot like seasoning. You can use tropes well to tell your story, you certainly shouldn't try to avoid them. But when there is too much, you miss the flavor of the actual story. Even worse, a lot of stories being told in film are not good to begin with. So you have tropes thrown in to be interesting, except they overwhelm and just point out the lack of film story.
All that to say that these films have GREAT character stuff and really bad plots filled with convenient storytelling elements to get us to our action beats and our character beats. None of that is tooooo bad, but it is certainly not good.
But what I constantly learn about Lethal Weapon is that these films plots are not really important. Because Riggs and Murtaugh are two fantastic characters. I love these characters, specifically Riggs, and feel their pain and love seeing their emotions and their lives develop. Lethal Weapon 3 is an excellent sequel ... to Lethal Weapon 2, which stands alone other than characters from Lethal Weapon 1, which very much did not impress me. But 2 and 3 ... yeah, I'd call these flawed, but good movies.
Looking ... well, I would say looking forward to 4, but it is a new screenwriter, so I'm a little afraid to be honest. Plus, they bring back Russo AND Pesci AND introduce Jet Li and Chris Rock. We'll see in a week or two!