REVIEW – ‘Die Hard with a Vengeance’

Written by J.T. Johnson


DIRECTOR: John McTiernan
WRITER: Jonathan Hensleigh
MUSIC: Michael Kamen

After “Die Hard 2: Die Harder” was released in 1990, the series went dormant for the next five years. Why bring Detective John McClane back yet again? What story could possibly involve McClane needing to run around stopping terrorists once more?

Like previous entries, the film is based off previously written material. This time, it was an action script by Jonathan Hensleigh called “Simon Says”. The film was originally intended for Brandon Lee. After Lee’s death, the script was then considered for the fourth “Lethal Weapon” movie. Soon enough, though, the script was heavily retooled and became another action-packed thrill ride for McClane, played once again by Bruce Willis.

This time, someone is setting off bombs around New York City. The man, who simply wants to be called Simon (Jeremy Irons), begins to play a game of Simon Says with the NYPD. Their first task is to find McClane so that he can participate in the game. The only thing that is known for certain is the fact that the man wants McClane dead, but no one knows why. Guess they found a way to bring the character back after all.

Anyway, when McClane’s first task goes horribly wrong, he is saved by Zeus Carver (Samuel L. Jackson), a pawn shop owner who has a serious distrust aimed at white people. In fact, the only reason he saved McClane was to stop a cop from getting killed in Harlem, thus bringing other, more trigger-happy cops into the neighborhood. This does not stop Simon from forcing Zeus into helping McClane and becoming his reluctant sidekick.

The second film was action-packed, but it didn’t have a shred of emotion beyond McClane just wanting to save his wife. This time around, there is a connection between McClane and the villain and it’s actually pretty clever. Also, Willis has always been the one to hold these films up and make them something more. This time, he has some help with Jackson, an actor who has no trouble standing side-by-side with Willis.

Their humorous arguments and another case of McClane’s bad luck once again draws the audience in and keeps their attention. Not only that, the stakes are even higher as McClane has gone on from protecting a skyscraper, a full airport and now, all of New York City. It was also cool seeing McClane work in his home city rather than abroad.

Irons as Simon is a huge improvement over the villains featured in “Die Hard 2″. He has the same amount of fun and never takes the role too seriously. Compared to Alan Rickman’s portrayal of Hans Gruber in the first film, it may not be as good but this villainous turn is definitely the best of the sequels. Like Rickman, Irons gives Simon a considerable amount of charm that catches the audience off guard and this makes him even more menacing.

The only real problem with the film is that it just doesn’t reach the quality of the first. This is probably because most action sequels seldom meet the impact of the original. Sure, there are the exceptions such as “Terminator 2: Judgment Day”, but this is not one of those occasions. Still, there is plenty to give the film credit for.

The action sequences are still some of the most exciting to watch when compared to other action film franchises. Also, with the story being greatly improved over the last outing, this means that the creative forces behind this series are listening to the fans. They deserve credit for giving audiences another great action flick to add to their library.


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