|Die Hard: With a Vengeance
1995 - R - 119 Mins.
|Director: John McTiernan
|Producer: Michael Tadross, John McTiernan
|Written By: Jonathan Hensleigh
|Starring: Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Irons, Bonnie Bedalia (voice), Alan Rickman (archive footage)
|Review by: John Ulmer
"Die Hard: With a Vengeance" is a full-blooded action vehicle; it is a smart one, too, because its filmmakers realize the ol' one-man-army-trapped-in-an-area routine can't last long. So they have changed the technique to a game of revenge: cat-and-mouse. Some could call it smarter than its predecessors; and on a level as a thriller I must admit it is more intense. It is a lot better than the 1990 Renny Harlin actioner "Die Hard 2: Die Harder." But on terms of fun, you can't beat the original.
John McTiernan, who brought us "Predator," "The 13th Warrior" and "Die Hard," returned to end this series on a high note. Of course, like all sagas, "Die Hard" is far from over, with another sequel due to be released summer 2004. But until then, we can look to "Die Hard: With a Vengeance" as the end-all to the overall excellent John McClane trilogy.
The third film opens up where nothing left off; McClane (Bruce Willis) is on the streets of NYC when a man who calls himself "Simon" blows up a Manhattan department store, and then orders McClane to stand in Harlem with a sandwich board that says...well...something you wouldn't want to be wearing in Harlem.
After a convenience store owner named Zeus (Samuel L. Jackson) saves McClane, Simon orders both men to run around New York City and do Simon Says-type-games. It's all good fun, and a step away from the original film. Which can be good or bad.
Soon McClane finds out that "Simon" is really the brother of Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) from the first film, and that "Simon" is out for revenge against McClane (or is he?), and he will stop at nothing to kill McClane. But, of course, being a madman, he plays mind games with John McClane first. And the simon says mind games are tense and action-packed.
It's hard to compare something like this to the original for one major reason: It is nothing like the original. The original was about a lone man fighting off a million guys, Rambo-style. But what saved it from becoming another average action spectacular was the great dialogue, non-stop SMART action sequences, and engaging performences by all aboard the project. Fast-forward two years later and you've got a replicant copy of the first film set in Dulles airport in Washington, D.C. But in all respect, "Die Hard: With a Vengeance" is not recycled. Its technique is new, and it almost seems as if it is not a sequel to the other "Die Hard" films. Which is probably not too odd, seeing that the script, originally titled "Simon Says" (no, not the Dennis Rodman one), was actually a sequel to "Lethal Weapon." Of course, modifications were made after the "Die Hard" series bought out the script, but the character of Zeus was probably Danny Glover, and John McClane was probably Mel Gibson. Thinkabouddit.
Bruce Willis is still John McClane. This film takes his character into a bit of a darker realm. McClane now has an alcohol problem, and his wife has left him again. Man, you'd think after having your life saved TWICE by the same guy that MAYBE you should stick with him. In fact, we don't even see McClane's wife (Bonnie Bedalia) in this film at all. Although we are led to believe they will hook up again at the end.
Samuel L. Jackson adds some flair to the film, taking the movie into a more cop-buddy dimension ("Lethal Weapon"). Jackson's character is a racist, and it's a bit odd to see a black racist in a film. It's usually those nasty white fellas. :)
I liked Jackson's character, because it provides for dialogue outlet on McClane's behalf, and sets the film up for some very funny sequences. The character interaction is a lot stronger here than it was in "Die Hard 2: Die Harder."
"Die Hard: With a Vengeance" is hard to compare to the original because it is so very different. But the bottom line is that this sequel is much better than "Die Hard 2: Die Harder," but a step down from "Die Hard." But seeing how different it is, you might think it is better than both the films. It really depends on your preferences.
I give this solid action film a solid rating of 4/5 stars - an all-around solid action sequel. Solid fun.