The signs of aging could shine through in "Lethal Weapon 3," but they don't. Because - magically - the series doesn't seem to be aging too much. Why? Because the series is always changing. It is smart, in that it realizes it cannot continue with the cop-buddy action-comedy formula per se, so it almost becomes more of a strict comedy with some big stunt pieces and looney fights. Sure, there's plenty of action, but it's not as fierce of bruising or just downright vicious as in the first two films. When there are fight scenes they seem a bit more corny than before. This is a more lighthearted entry into the series, and though you could say without seeing the film that soft is not what "Lethal Weapon" is about, just remember how tiring it would have been seeing a repeat of the second and first film.
Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) and Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) are back. The film opens with an explosive prelude that has become the symbol of the "Lethal Weapon" movies (later films such as "Bad Boys" - another cop-buddy film - tried to use the same technique but, in my opinion, sort of failed).
After the opening sequence, in which they try to diffuse a bomb in a parking garage but end up tripping the detonator instead, the two men are demoted from Sergeants to regular cops - they walk the streets in boredom giving out tickets to J-walkers and trying to find a way to have some fun.
Murtaugh is bent on retiring - again - in a week. Riggs, now his best-buddy, tries to ignore the fact as best he can by cracking jokes about girdles. (Don't ask.) While walking the streets they come upon an armored van robbery (what are the chances?) and stop the crooks through a windy car chase along a highway, with a reference to "The Road Warrior" along the way. (And if you don't understand that joke, you don't belong on this site.)
Plot revelation upon plot revelation finally builds up into the fact that new weapons are filling the streets - "cop killers" - that can go right through a bulletproof vest and out the other side. Brought in to investigate into these matters is Lorna Cole (Rene Russo), a woman after Riggs' own heart. She kicks butt, pays no attention to rules, and is a smart...bottom.
Also returning is Joe Pesci to the role of Leo Getz. His head full of bleached hair and sporting a nice car, the retired thief is now in real estate, trying to sell Murtaugh's home to interested folk. One of the best scenes is when Getz is taking a couple through Murtaugh's home and mentions all the different accidents they've had over the year, including the car smashing through the wall and "accidental bomb damage" upstairs. He later says it's illegal to withhold information. And this is coming from the guy who, in "Lethal 2," admitted to laundering drug money.
"Lethal Weapon 3" is full of fun, good intentions, and more fun. For fans of the first two films this is a great relief - it's not nearly as bad as you're expecting it to be. However, there are more than a handful of flaws here. The plot is not nearly as realistic nor intriguing as the first two, the action is a bit too dumbed down at times, and overall the film seems more like a big-budget extravaganza as compared to the smartness of the first two. Still, you really can't go wrong with "Lethal Weapon 3," because if you enjoyed the first two, you're going to eat this up.