In this installment of the popular "Lethal Weapon" series, Riggs and Murtaugh stumble upon a gun racket run by ex-cop Jack Travis (Stuart Wilson). Travis provides Los Angeles' toughest gangs with high tech weaponry, but now (to Riggs' delight) Lorna Cole, an attractive martial-arts trained internal affairs investigator, has been assigned to help the dynamic duo turn mayhem into order. Together, they can manage it -- the hard way.
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This movie is a bit of a mess to me. It has shades of the first film’s storytelling in which there is a distinct separation of the plot and the characterization. Unlike the first film, however, it’s a ping pong between both. The film loses the flowing of the plot the second film had and has a plot that is somewhat all over the place and way too complicated for what the actual big time crime is the cops are after. There is an actual attempt, I feel, that was being made by the film makers and cast despite the outcome.
The Story: There is an internal affairs investigation going on for a gun racket in the area being distributed to gangs. Meanwhile, Murtaugh is trying to sell his house, Riggs is falling in love with an investigator and things just kind of spin off from there on out. I would try and explain more but once I go into the major details, we’d be here all day. The important thing to know is, until about an hour and 15 minutes into it, it’s going to be a slow ride to the top of the rollercoaster.
Acting: At this point in the franchise, I feel as an audience member that we should be nearing some kind of closure with these characters. There’s no reason to continue past this point. The film makers got that idea as well with Murtaugh’s retirement that’s scheduled but never really seem to grasp fully. The actors are now comfortable in these roles and don’t really have much to work with in terms of character growth. It’s sad that it gets lost in the mundane complications that are going on in the plot. The “growth” the characters go through are the same old stereotypical plot conventions without that edgy character influenced spin that the first two films held. Again, despite all this, I do feel as though the actors were trying to make an entertaining flick, just not trying their best to grow within the roles. There are, however, a few shining moments. Specifically Danny Glover being pissed off as all hell at the local gangs.
Directing: Richard Donner is now starting to come off as a “hit or miss” director.
Cinematography: Well done for a 1990’s film. Again, I attribute it to the growing budget from the successful franchise and also Jan de Bont is behind the camera. Doesn’t get a whole lot better than that when it comes to action movies.
Production Design: Exactly what I said for the last two films and what I’ll say for the next one before I even see it. It’s a production style of the times that the film was made in, or “realistic” if you will.
Editing: In terms of “the good parts” of this film, I feel the editing really helps. There’s a great scene on the boat after the shooting of the gang kid between Riggs and Murtaugh and there’s just a great chemistry that reappears at that point. It just comes from strong editing in my opinion. Again, I felt they had their best intentions at hand and came out with a strong product in the end.
Score: Same as the production value. It’s got the same old action buddy cop score but the saxophone that characterizes the franchise within the more personal character-based moments.
Special Effects: Yet again, real explosions.
In closing: The franchise has no definite direction at this point. This film is a fuse between the first and second with no indication with were the stories will be going. That’s what’s frustrating overall. We don’t know if we’re getting closure or a step in a new direction. It’s becoming stale and focused towards a quick action money maker instead of quality entertainment. So we’ll have to see how 4 pans out….