With it being the third movie in a highly successful franchise, “Lethal Weapon 3” settles into a familiar formula which, as this sequel proves, still works. Director Richard Donner and stars Mel Gibson and Danny Glover were interested in making this film more of a comedy, and we get the usual gunfights, explosions and car chases which are all expertly filmed. In addition, we also get another thrilling music score from the composers who worked on the previous “Lethal Weapon” movies: Michael Kamen, Eric Clapton and David Sanborn.
I still remember the first time I saw “Lethal Weapon 3” and how gleefully entertained I was while watching it. I also loved the score for it as well even if it sounded mostly recycled from parts 1 and 2. After seeing this sequel twice in one week, I couldn’t wait to buy the soundtrack in the hopes that it would have more of the music that I expected to hear (but didn’t) on the soundtracks to “Lethal Weapon” and “Lethal Weapon 2.” But yet again, the commercial release of the “Lethal Weapon 3” left me disappointed despite some good tracks (“Armour Piercing Bullets” was the standout) included on it. Furthermore, it only had a portion of Kamen’s, Clapton’s and Sanborn’s music score on it.
But now we have a brand-new expanded and remastered soundtrack for “Lethal Weapon 3” which includes two compact discs with all of the music cues that I was praying would be on the 1992 commercial soundtrack release. It is being released as part of La La Land Records’ “Lethal Weapon Soundtrack Collection” box set, and it is gratifying to listen to this score in its entirety on compact disc.
This film score starts off with a whimsical feel as Riggs and Murtaugh try to disarm a bomb and end up failing quite explosively. Busted down from detectives to beat cops, they are at the scene of an armored car robbery and immediately jump into action. This leads to one of my favorite tracks on the first disc entitled “Armoured Car Chase.” Hearing the three composers come together to create such a thrilling piece of music made watching this sequence in the movie all the more exciting.
My other favorite tracks on this expanded soundtrack are “Gun Battle” which is the same piece of music as “Armour Piercing Bullets,” and it always succeeds in getting me super excited to where I can see myself in appearing in an action movie. Another one is “Fire/Fire Battle/A Quiet Evening by the Fire” which gives the movie’s action climax an equally thrilling and highly emotionally effect that reminds you of how the “Lethal Weapon” movies are as big on character as they are on unforgettable action set pieces.
The second disc of “Lethal Weapon 3” features its commercial release of the soundtrack which includes the songs “It’s Probably Me” by Sting and Clapton, and “Runaway Train” performed by Clapton and Elton John. The rest are pieces of the score by Kamen, Clapton and Sanborn, and there are some additional tracks that feature alternate versions of music cues for this movie. I do at least have to give credit to La La Land Records for including the original album on this special release instead of just trying to bury it under a rug or something.
Jeff Bond, whose booklet “Some Movies Don’t Invent Genres: They Just Perfect Them” accompanies the “Lethal Weapon Soundtrack Collection,” writes about how Donner decided to put more of an emphasis on comedy and family with this sequel. Still, there were some new additions like renegade ex-cop Jack Travis (Stuart Wilson) and Internal Affairs officer Lorna Cole (Rene Russo) to give “Lethal Weapon 3” the dark edge it needed. It also was revealed that Lorna was originally written as a male character. For those who have seen the movie, I think we can all agree that the change was a very welcome one. Who else but Russo could have inhabited this role so memorably anyway?
In regards to the score, Bond makes it clear that Kamen, Clapton and Sanborn did not phone this one in at all. Unlike the previous “Lethal Weapon” movies, this one starts out with a song performed by Sting. The song was “It’s Probably Me,” and Bond quotes Sting as saying his idea behind it was that Riggs and Murtaugh are such macho guys to where they wouldn’t express their love for one another right away.
Bond also points out that Kamen did intentionally stick with the formula that made the scores to the previous movies work so well. But at the same time, this score shows how talented Kamen and company are in scoring the most humorous scenes in this sequel. In “Lethal Weapon” and “Lethal Weapon 2,” Kamen showed us just how good he was at balancing action spectacles with character driven moments. But in “Lethal Weapon 3,” he also proves to be a master at adding to the endless laughs that were to be had in this sequel.
Once again, La La Land Records has given us another great special edition of a soundtrack that was long overdue for an expanded release. Here’s hoping that they release more remastered and expanded soundtracks that I have spent decades waiting for. Can an expanded release of Harold Faltemeyer’s film score for “Fletch” be far behind?