A Fish Called Wanda – Lethal Weapon 3 – tape 1870

First on the tape is a Sky Movies presentation of A Fish Called Wanda, a film I’ve looked at on a previous tape. I’ve nothing really to add here.

Following this, another Movie Channel presentation, this time Lethal Weapon 3. I genuinely can’t remember if this was a good one or not. The first was a classic, the second was solid, this one I can’t remember much about. Is it the first one with Joe Pesci? We shall see.

I always felt the sequels were missing Shane Black. The first had some edge that the sequels were missing. Black didn’t always hit dead centre – Last Action Hero, trailed just before this movie, wasn’t well received, although I really like it – but his characters do at least feel like they’re in danger.

This one opens with Riggs and Murtaugh (Mel Gibson and Danny Glover) arriving at a build where there’s been a bomb report. It’s glossed over why they’ve even turned up. “You’re homicide, nobody’s dead yet.” “The night is young.”

Then Riggs wants to take a look before the bomb squad turn up – he’s sure there’s no bomb. Murtaugh then drops the most immortal line from the whole series. “I got 8 days to retirement.”

After Riggs tries to defuse the bomb, but instead triggers it, and they escape just as it explodes, they’re demoted to uniform patrol. There’s a scene where they cite a man for jaywalking, and Riggs starts going bananas (because that’s his whole character, I guess) and threatens to shoot the guy, Murtaugh tries to calm him down, shouting ‘video cameras’. It’s supposed to be a comic scene, but today it plays slightly differently.

This was the second Joe Pesci appearance – he’s a realtor now, trying to sell the Murtaughs’ house. And he’s more annoying than he was in the second one.

We’re introduced to the villain – a property speculator. You can tell he’s the villain because he punishes one of his minions by burying him in concrete. Which almost certainly violates several building codes.

Then we have a scene which, I think, characterises the failure of this movie. Riggs – still demoted to uniform – demonstrates to the other cops in the station a new bullet he found on a criminal – dubbed ‘Cop Killers’ because they’re armour-piercing. This scene seems to come out of nowhere – we don’t see Riggs discover the bullets, there’s no reason why a detective on temporary demotion would be briefing the whole station on this threat, and it’s all just exposition. Naturally, the bullets will become important later in the story, but this is just very clumsy setup.

This whole movie feels by the numbers. Whole scenes only happen by coincidence – Riggs just happens to notice a drug deal going down nearby where they’re looking for an unrelated suspect. And the gang member Murtaugh shoots dead just happens to be a friend of his son. And this event is only there for ‘character’ since it doesn’t intersect with the main plot at all.

The film just lurches from set-piece to set-piece, and nothig feels organic. Plus, the two leads now appear to be playing parodies of themselves, and many scenes just end up as a babble of shouting voices. It’s like Goonies with grown-ups.

The writer of this film, Jeffrey Boam, also wrote Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and I’ve always thought that, whilst it’s far better than this, it shares a sense of lurching between set-pieces.

There’s a funny end-credits scene, though.

After this, there’s the start of another movie. I perked up a bit when it started with the music from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, but that was just the Morgan Creek ident. It’s Stay Tuned, starring John Ritter and Pam Dawber. Judging by the titles, it’s something about the evils of television. And it’s directed by Peter Hyams. Recording stops shortly into this movie.

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