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‘Lethal Weapon 3’ (R)

By Hal Hinson
Washington Post Staff Writer
May 15, 1992

Oh, those wacky L.A. cops!

How sad that "Lethal Weapon 3" should come out now, after all that has happened in Los Angeles, after the Rodney King beating trial is over, and the prosecution can't subpoena the picture as evidence. How is it evidence? Well, "Lethal Weapon 3" could easily be seen as a police training film for how to abuse the power of the badge and violate civil rights and endanger hundreds of innocent lives in the process -- a "how to" film for bad cops.

What could be funnier?

Of course, the defense attorneys could use the movie on behalf of their clients too. The police, they could argue, had just watched too many "Lethal Weapon" movies, and thought, because they had these big stars in them who were portrayed as heroes, that this was the way a heroic cop was supposed to behave. When Riggs (Mel Gibson) and Murtaugh (Danny Glover) are accused of spreading chaos and mayhem in their wake, they're proud of themselves.

"No, he's chaos," Gibson quips. "I'm mayhem."

Okay, so they put a gun to a jaywalker's head and threaten to shoot him. That was wrong. But they didn't actually shoot him, right? No one actually got hurt. It's just fun and games. "Three Stooges" stuff. Like when Riggs beats up that movie director to make him give Murtaugh's daughter her job back, that was just goofing around. Those eye pokes -- that's what Moe used to do.

My clients, Your Honor, have done nothing as outrageously excessive as this. And if they did, they were simply impressionable young men imitating the behavior of their movie heroes. Defense rests.

Let's not belabor this thing. "Lethal Weapon 3" is pretty much the same as "Lethal Weapon 2," which was pretty much the same as "Lethal Weapon." The characters are the same and the actors give the same performances. There are a lot of chases and a lot of stuff gets blown up or shot up or beaten up, except maybe here the explosions are bigger.

Yes, there is a shot of Mel Gibson's bum, and, no, director-producer Richard Donner still hasn't learned the first thing about directing action so that it has any coherence or beauty.

If you ask me, Gibson beat up the wrong director.

"Lethal Weapon" is rated R for excessive violence and language.

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