Lethal Weapon 3 — What Went Wrong?
I rewatched “Lethal Weapon 3” the other day. I remebered it as ok from when I saw it in the cinema, once upon a time. Riggs and Murthaugh are definetly two of the best action characters from the 1980’s, but unfortunately also two of the characters that have been most let down by their creators. And it began with “Lethal Weapon 3”.
My verdict this time is that it is an entertaining movie — BUT it is a far weaker movie than its two predecessors. There are elements to this movie that bothers my enormously:
- uninteresting villain
- weak script
- unnecessary and annoying Leo Getz
- too much focus on constant bickering between Riggs and Murtaugh
- Riggs acts fairly insane, but does not seem to suffer the same kind of depressions as in the previous films. It does not seem motivated.
So how did this happen?
Apparently, scriptwriter Jeffrey Boam’s first two versions of the script were radically different from what was eventually filmed. Rene Russo’s character Lorna was a man, who was as crazy and lethal as Riggs. And there was no love story between him and Riggs. Instead — Riggs hooked up with Murtaugh’s daugther Rihanna. Which makes sense, considering their chemistry in the first two movies. Also, Leo Getz was not in the script.
But director Richard Donner had other ideas. He wanted less focus on the story, less focus on the villain, and wanted Leo Getz back. He wanted the focus to be on the relationship between Riggs and Murtaugh.
In fact, Jeffrey Boam was fired from his scriptwriting duties, and Robert Mark Kamen took over. But after a while, Boam was rehired.
My gut feeling is that Boams original script versions are closer in tone to the first two films. To me, it seems like Donner wanted to focus on the comedy, and lost all sense of direction. Something that would become even more evident in the horrific mess that would eventually become “Lethal Weapon 4”.