Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Die Hard With a Vengeance (1995)

The third Die Hard film is both better than the second and in a way, worse.  This time out, John McClane is back on his home turf of New York, nursing a hangover when he has to stop a mad bomber with a personal grudge against our hero.  He ends up teaming with a Harlem shopkeeper played by Samuel L. Jackson and a cat and mouse chase through New York ensues.

Die Hard With a Vengeance is a fun, balls to the wall action movie that was initially intended to be a third Lethal Weapon film.  This can still be seen in the buddy film byplay between Willis and Jackson.  They have good chemistry, though the racial angle that comes up here and there feels shoehorned in.  That aside, Willis and Jackson are entertaining as always.

The other big role is Jeremy Irons as Simon Gruber, brother of the late Hans Gruber from the first film.  He's not quite as iconic a villain as the one that Alan Rickman created but he still delivers a solid bit of villainy.  Cool, calculating and always in control, Irons underplays nicely and ends up being quite excellent.

The action is also pretty decent with a good car chase, some nice stunt work throughout and of course, the requisite huge explosions.  The only downer is the last action beat in Canada where John tracks Simon after he makes his escape.  It was changed from a darker ending and while it's nicely spectacular, the change in location doesn't exactly work.

The main problem the film has is also one of the things that makes it stand out.  The wide open location sort of takes away from the claustrophobia that the first film excelled at and the second film managed to get, even with the larger location.    Another issue is the lack of any real high stakes for McClane.  His marriage has fallen apart and really, outside of a fellow cop getting killed there isn't anything genuinely personal for his side of the equation. The film is also fairly predictable which is to be expected with the third film in a franchise.

Die Hard With a Vengeance is a solid, fun action movie that looks even better now given the last two entries in the series.  It's got good performances, decent action and some nice bits of humor.  It's basic, but sometimes that's all you really need.

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About Me

I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.