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Die Hard With A Vengeance (1995)

DIRECTOR: John McTiernan

CAST:

Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Irons, Graham Greene, Colleen Camp, Larry Bryggman

REVIEW:

I don’t know if it’s because John McTiernan is back in the director’s seat, or the inclusion of the always high-octane Samuel L. Jackson, or the script, or a combination, but Die Hard With A Vengeance has a higher energy level than Die Hard 2, even if it’s not as tightly-plotted and well-crafted as the original film.

John McClane (Bruce Willis), since separating from his this-time-unseen wife, now first appears in typical Willis fashion, hungover and depressed, but gets dragged back to active duty when a (seemingly) mad bomber who calls himself Simon (Jeremy Irons) and talks in riddles, demands that McClane play a game of Simon Says, or else there is a bomb in a school somewhere in New York City ready to go off. Along the way, McClane picks up an uneasy partner, Zeus (Samuel L. Jackson), who pretty obviously is none too fond of white people and isn’t much inclined to warm up to the man dragging him along on his latest one-man fight against international terrorists. Meanwhile, Simon’s plot turns out to be a little more complex than a psychotic bombing spree. The hunt for the bomb is just a distraction for the police while he and his men empty the Federal Reserve. Oh, and Simon, a former East German Colonel, also happens to be original Die Hard villain Hans Gruber’s brother. But like his brother, and others before him, the devious Simon hasn’t counted on John McClane.

John McClane is by now old hat to Bruce Willis, and the third outing mixes things up by giving him a partner. Samuel L. Jackson may be one of the few actors around who can equal or outdo Willis when it comes to profanely ranting action heroes, and he and Willis quickly establish a breezy give-and-take chemistry. As the villain, Jeremy Irons is suitably dry, sly, and cunning, and makes Simon a more memorable adversary than William Sadler’s Colonel Stuart, although he’s not as delicious as Alan Rickman’s Hans (they both get a scene where they fool people with really bad American accents). Graham Greene, Colleen Camp, and Larry Bryggman are the cops scrambling to find the bomb, and are pretty generic movie cop fare, although at least they don’t act as clueless as you might expect.

Die Hard With A Vengeance seems to deliberately harken back to the original Die Hard, most obviously with the rather cliched and unoriginal plot device of having this villain be the first one’s brother, and also rematching John McClane against ever-popular villainous Germans (led by crisply British thespians known for moustache-twirling evilness). We start high energy, especially with McClane and Zeus’ car barreling through Central Park (complete with an anti-mime joke). The film seems to go on a little too long, though, and after the main plot kicks into full gear, which doesn’t happen for a while, it becomes prone to a little meandering and the pace moving in fits and startts. Like the second movie, the bad guy’s fate is a little disappointing and anti-climactic. But the back-and-forth rapid-fire between Willis and Jackson is thoroughly entertaining, and they make a solid action buddy duo. Die Hard With A Vengeance isn’t as good as the originator of the popular series, but it’s an entertaining ride, nonetheless.

***

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