Why it's better
The first two did a helluva job establishing Riggs as the loose canon & Murtaugh as the family man who's too old for this shit. In an obvious but very welcome twist, Lethal Weapon 3 has Danny Glover taking over the crazy reigns for a Dirty Harry-esque sequence that, on its own, carries the movie. The best part about it -- it's not a role-reversal plot copout; Riggs hangs in background, cheering him on.
The sequels of this franchise never shied away from the obvious plot device of simply and shamelessly 'adding characters.' However, the idea of the Rene Russo character is a refreshing, clever addition. The way it was executed...?

Why it's worse
Easy -- right off the bat, one of the shining blunders in all of sequel history ever: who was the villain? There was one, yeah. What did he do? What was his motivation - guns? drugs? Anyone? Where was he for 80% of the movie? I don't even think he had anything to do with the story! A poor villain is one of the most shameful things in the action genre.
& yeah, the idea of giving Riggs a female match is admirable, but the fact that she's given the worst dialogue & delivered by a mediocre actress pretty much snuffs it out.
Alright, so Joe Pesci was a vaguely pleasant addition to 2. But here's a contradiction to the laws of physics: it's as though he was somehow crammed into an otherwise empty movie with 3.
Get rid of Pesci, give his screen time to a better villain.

"Hey, Word, Riggs!"

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