Table of contents

Lethal Weapon 3

The policeman as lover

Murtaugh is one week of service away from retirement. His wife forces him to wear a bulletproof vest. The risk of death is more important now… Indeed, Riggs drags him into a bomb situation; they escape the massive explosion, but not the administrative consequences. They promptly become beat cops – it’s back to basics. Riggs harasses the citizenry. The cure for boredom – high high-speed chases in armored trucks. He saves the day, sure enough.

Perhaps the more attractive part of the story, however, is the seduction of Sgt. Cole by Riggs. They despise each other instantly, because he is arrogant & she polices policemen. Policemen need to be policed because corruption threatens to rot all institutions everywhere from the inside out. But this corruption is shameful; policemen decently deny it. This defense itself proves their common good is not the same as justice. The policewoman thinks policemen boasters.

The police lives or dies by the public-spiritedness of the policemen. They dedicate themselves to the city such that they risk death in the pursuit of their duties. In the most serious sense, the enemies of the police are those who put private life so far above public life that they treat public life as their own little plaything. The life of crime attacks the foundation of the legitimacy of the police.

This enemy is a retired policeman who steals from the police. Maybe the skills that make a great policeman also make a great criminal apparently. That some kind of spiritedness describes both lives is apparent from this man’s brutality. We are also taught that he was a brutal policeman as well. There is a suggestion that the police itself had to undergo a transformation to become more peaceful. Some policemen learned otherwise from harshness: Get rewards.

But this is going too far. Suffice it to say the policemen see the low in light of the low – they must think like criminals, they must try to piece the details together & they require many skills which require much practice. Those who excel are extolled, but in fact are of a kind with the others, so the police may always stick together, proudly independent from fearful moneymakers.

To conclude the seduction, Riggs shows his contempt for policeman’s police & his dedication to justice: He claims to be an admirable man without being needlessly partisan. Then he shows great police skills to vindicate his claim & character. – We see him going down on all fours to tame a dog by pretending to be a dog himself. Finally, man & woman denude to compare scars, to see who is bravest. Manliness is a virtue of the body & manly men win over women every time.

The third installment of the series. See it if you like Mel Gibson.