The boys are back…again.
Yes, this is the third installment of the Lethal Weapon franchise, which seems to have been made for two reasons: obviously money, and for nostalgia purposes. In fact this film demands that you have seen the prior films in the series, and is primarily written for the fans to see their boys once again. While the film is still an enjoyable mindless romp, it is the weakest of the four films in the saga. On the other hand, the disc looks and sounds great.
For my opinions of the Lethal Weapon series as a whole, be sure to read my other reviews of the films that came before. In a nutshell, I think them fine action and great buddy movies that combine a great mix of humor and mayhem. And there is still plenty to like in this third installment, especially the addition of Rene Russo (Major League, Ransom, The Thomas Crown Affair) as Lorna Cole, a tough internal affairs officer who is seemingly a perfect match for Riggs.
One thing you can say with this series; each film gets bigger. Bigger things get blown up, larger scale set pieces get burned, crashed, or shot full of holes each time. The stunts and action scenes are done extremely well. This film begins with Riggs (Mel Gibson) and Murtaugh (Danny Glover) accidentally blowing up a large office building, which gets them demoted to uniformed patrolmen. Of course that doesn't stop them from investigating and pursuing a case involving guns being stolen from police custody along with Teflon coated "cop killer" bullets designed to go through a bulletproof vest. The case seems to be an inside job so Internal Affairs gets involved, in the form of lovely Lorna Cole (Russo), who happens to love the Three Stooges and has the same scars and ability to kick bad guy butt as Riggs. They're a natural couple. Returning from Lethal Weapon 2 is also Joe Pesci as Leo Getz, who also happens to be able to help with some leads while reprising the same shtick he did in the last movie.
The first release of this film on DVD was actually quite good; much better than the first two that came earlier in the beginnings of the format. But this is the director's cut, which includes a couple minutes of extra footage. There are a couple quick scenes that don't really add anything, but there is one scene where you see Riggs having his house built, which was a missing link in the initial release. Now we see how Riggs goes from a trailer in 2 to a house in 4. So for continuity's sake I'm happy.
As I said, the first release on DVD of this film was quite good. This 2.35:1 anamorphic beauty looks the same to me as the first one, with of course the added two minutes. Other than a slight bit of edge enhancement this is top-notch video, with rich, vivid colors that do not bleed, black blacks, great fleshtones, and a very sharp level of detail. This is a very sharp and smooth film-like look and I was impressed.
The twin Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 tracks are both excellent as well. Both offer a wide spacious forward soundstage, though perhaps less aggressive in the surrounds than the others in the series. Dynamic range is terrific, and both tracks offer a great warmth and clarity, though perhaps a hair more from the DTS track. The musical score again sounds just a little more present with the DTS, but that is a very small difference. In this case either soundtrack will do fine; offering both clearly-understood dialogue and room shaking explosions.
Again I should mention the great menus that Warner has done for the discs in this series; first rate.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Again, the extras are pretty scant, and you are urged to also own Lethal Weapon 4 which has the majority of the extras for the whole series. Only cast info for Gibson, Glover, Pesci, and Russo, along with a trailer and a few text screens describing the big finale's production are offered here.
As for the film, I used the words "same old shtick" to describe Pesci's performance. This is true for the whole film. The whole movie gives a nod and a wink to the fans who remember things from the first two movies and brings them up again, along with recreating many of the things you've seen before. Of course Leo has to have his diatribe against something, Riggs has to act a little crazy, and Murtaugh is still too old for this sh*t. I will say that Glover had a chance to stretch the character of Murtaugh more in this film than in any but the first, and he did a fine job. It was unfortunate that Shane Black, who wrote the first two screenplays, wasn't around for this one. The third time seemed more like a homage than a new film.
Well, if you like the series, you'll want this one in your collection as well. I'd feel like I was lacking something if I only owned the others and not this one, and it is still a fun ride. And if you're a fan of the film, the great picture and sound speak highly for it; just be sure to also have Lethal Weapon 4 to get the extras you'd wish were on this one.
Again Riggs and Murtaugh, along with the rest of the gang in the Lethal series are acquitted. I do have to say I hope I am not reviewing Lethal Weapon 5, 6, and 7 as the series can end now at 4 without my feeling a loss. Warner has done another fine job with the picture and sound, and taken as a whole set of four discs the series works on every level.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
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