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Lethal Weapon 3: Director's Cut

The third time isn't exactly the charm for Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, and director Richard Donner, but the third entry in the Lethal Weapon series is charming enough to sit through. The first Lethal Weapon in 1987 demonstrated that the franchise's secret weapon was not spectacular stunts or booming pyrotechnics, but instead the full-throttle banter between Gibson's Martin Riggs and Glover's Roger Murtaugh, and Donner and producer Joel Silver have made a point throughout each successive film not merely to layer on more and more stunts, but also more cast, and where Lethal Weapon 2 introduced Joe Pesci as the kinetic, funny Leo Getz, Lethal Weapon 3 offers the series' first (and only) credible female lead in the form of a sexy Rene Russo, who's just as skillful at flashing her baby blues as she is at dropping a baddie with a roundhouse kick that has a cowboy boot on the business end of it (and what a welcome change from the fragile, vapid Patsy Kensit as Mel's love interest in the predecessor). As can be expected when a successful series falls into an audience-friendly formula, the plot is easily the weakest point in Lethal Weapon 3, this time concerning a rogue former cop (Stuart Wilson) who is hijacking guns from LAPD storage and sending them back out on the streets, where they are bound to wind up in the hands of teenage gangbangers. Russo, as no-nonsense Internal Affairs officer Lorna Cole, is determined to discover how the guns are getting back into circulation, but when stuff-and-nonsense Riggs and Murtaugh make a crucial collar, the trio are thrown together to solve the case. There's a few fun sequences to be found here, including an incendiary opening sequence. However, while largely unoriginal, perhaps the best thing that can be said about the Lethal Weapon sequels is that we come back for the characters and not the frosting on the cake. All we need is for Riggs, in hot pursuit of the bad guys, to go over a freeway overpass on a motorcycle, smash the hell out of his bike, and barely survive the ordeal before ramming his dislocated shoulder back into place as he sputters to Murtaugh, "Oh Roger — now I'm pissed!" Go get 'em, Mel. Solid anamorphic transfer from a pristine source print, Dolby Digital or DTS 5.1, trailer, textual supplements. Snap-case.

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