The magic is back again. But who's she?
Lethal Weapon 3 delivers the goods and keeps the franchise fresh in a pretty if feature-light disc from Warner.
Considering that studios routinely botch even the first sequel, it is somewhat of a miracle that the Lethal Weapon franchise has maintained a high degree of action and entertainment throughout its four installments. I think that Lethal Weapon 3 rivals the original as the best of the four, due primarily to the wise addition of fresh blood and a higher dose of humor.
For those of you who may have been hiding under a rock since 1987, the Lethal Weapon series centers around the antics of Sgt. Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) and Sgt. Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) of the LAPD, with the ever-hyper Leo Getz (Joe Pesci) as their hyper-annoying sidekick.
After our heroes introduce themselves in a most amusing and (ahem) explosive fashion, we find them reduced to mere patrolmen. This is of course merely an excuse for some humorous moments and an action sequence (armored car racing, anyone?), as they are restored in rank with as little effort. In the course of their adventures, our heroes discover that guns and ammunition that had been slated for destruction by the police is back in the hands of criminals (mostly being used against them, it seems). This introduces us to Internal Affairs investigator Lorna Cole (Rene Russo), who matches Riggs both in wisecracking and hand-to-hand combat abilities.
After Riggs and Cole bash a few heads, they have a hilarious scene where they compare scars, stabs, and gunshot wounds and then (ahem) a few other things. Proceeding onward, they continue to follow the trail of guns and bodies to evil ex-cop Jack Travis (Stuart Wilson) who had previously eluded them. The finale is suitably spectacular, but take my advice, and don't leave when the credits start rolling. Stick around for the very end.
Writing a detailed plot summary seems a little silly, because plot has never been the point of the Lethal Weapon series. Rather, the emphasis is on characters, chemistry, and high-powered action. This is not to say that the plot here is deficient, it merely isn't an overly critical component of the movie. It keeps us going with a cohesive story, and only the segment about the aftermath of Murtaugh shooting a young gangster rings a false note for me.
The acting here is up to the standards we expect for an action flick in general and the Lethal Weapon series in particular. Special commendation must be made of Rene Russo's performance, as I think she has the most difficult part in the movie. As the "new kid," she has to make us believe that she is just as tough and skilled at mayhem as the boys, but without being humorless or losing her feminine charms. Her success at this task is nothing short of exceptional, making her a genuine action heroine.
The video transfer was a very pleasant surprise for me. For some reason, I did not expect a high quality picture, but I wonder why I ever worried. This is a very clean picture, and only in a very rare scene did I notice any picture noise. In particular, I was impressed by the color saturation and sharp detail of the flames in the opening credit sequence. However, looking at the movie as a whole, the picture seemed a tad softly focused for my taste, and the color saturation seemed to be a bit muted.
The audio displays the benefits of having an older action movie remixed into Dolby Digital 5.1. Directional effects are put to good use in the many frantic action sequences, as is the LFE channel. I must say, the thunder from the exploding building at the beginning of the movie seemed to linger for a veritable eternity after the impressive initial thump of ignition.
The only deficient area on this otherwise fine disc is in the limited extras. The menus are static movie themed pictures. We also get a reasonable Cast and Crew section, a few pages of production notes on the major scenes that begin and end the movie, as well as two good quality theatrical trailers (one is letterboxed at about 1.77:1 and the other is properly 2.35:1 letterboxed).
The Rebuttal Witnesses
In defense of the lack of extras, I have to admit that I was not too dismayed by the lack of a commentary track. I think the one on Lethal Weapon 4 was good enough, and at least I was spared more arrogant Hollywood political pontificating by Richard Donner.
One nit-pick about the video: I was a bit annoyed to notice that in the opening title sequence a very small part of one credit is clipped off by the side of my RPTV screen, which I have never seen in a widescreen movie before. Odd.
Another nit-pick: For a number of the people in the Cast and Crew section, their pictures are not used for their biography and filmography sections. Instead, we get generic stills from the movie.
Finally, we get Lethal Weapon 3 in the usual and less than ideal Warner snapper case. A pity, but at least we're getting an anamorphic transfer. Yay Warner!
At turns exciting, thrilling and funny, the entertaining third entry in the Lethal Weapon franchise gets a decent treatment by Warner. A fine addition to any home theatre library.
Acquitted across the board, but Warner is admonished to make its discs a little more spiffy.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
• Production Notes
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