Anthony's Film Review
Die Hard With a Vengeance (1995)
The third movie in the Die Hard series does live up to its title...
At this point in the Die Hard series, one thing is clear. John McClane, the hero of the Die Hard movies played by Bruce Willis, may be a tough guy who can really handle all sorts of trouble, but he doesn't go looking for it. Rather, trouble finds him. The only reason that he saves the day is because he has no choice. In the original Die Hard in 1988, McClane visits his wife at a workplace Christmas party in the Nakatomi Corporation building in Los Angeles, just as terrorists strike the place. Two years later in Die Hard 2, McClane is waiting at Dulles International Airport in Washington, DC, for his wife's flight to arrive, just as terrorists wreak havoc at the airport. And now, in Die Hard With a Vengeance, McClane scrambles to stop a terrorist because that evildoer decides to use McClane in the first part of a grand scheme.
The villain, a mysterious voice only known as Simon, orders McClane to do various tasks or else bombs will go off in New York City. His first task, believe it or not, is to go into the predominantly African-American Harlem section of the city while wearing a racist sign. This is where the film introduces Samuel L. Jackson as a shop owner named Zeus Carver who unwillingly gets pulled into Simon's cruel game (appropriately called "Simon Says"). At first, this Die Hard movie seems to take a somewhat comical turn as McClane deals with Carver's racially motivated remarks and profane loud mouth. But I will say right now that Carver becomes much more of a hero over the course of the movie.
For a while, McClane and Carver have to follow Simon's instructions or else innocent people will get bombed. That includes a rather interesting scene where they are given a chance to disarm a bomb at a park fountain. The way to do it is to solve a math problem before the timer reaches zero seconds. After this madness, something even bigger happens: a heist at the Federal Reserve building that stores many bullions of gold. McClane and Carver may not be witnessing this firsthand, but McClane does figure it out through clever deduction.
Now is a good time to talk about the villain. The baddie known as Simon is really Simon Gruber, the brother of the terrorist Hans Gruber in the first Die Hard movie. It's interesting how both Gruber brothers have been played by fine British actors donning German accents: Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber and Jeremy Irons as Simon Gruber. Anyway, Simon Gruber first seems like a guy on the phone who is playing a deadly game with McClane and Carver for personal satisfaction. But it's soon evident that the psychological game is meant to be a distraction so that Gruber and his cronies can raid the Federal Reserve.
As expected, there is action. It starts out slow in the first half, but after the big heist, things get exciting. McClane fires some shots, kills a couple of guys, and gets smeared with blood and gun residue. As for Carver, he might not be a real gunfighter like McClane, but by the end, even he looks really mangled up. Through it all, it really seems that Gruber is going to win, given how clever he really is. But in the end, we still get to hear McClane's famous line: "Yippie-Ki Yay, m___________."
This is a movie that I didn't think would be too good once it began. But after a while, I became very impressed by how much more exciting it got. I found Die Hard With a Vengeance to be nearly as good as the first Die Hard, so I would place this movie above Die Hard 2 and a small step down from the original Die Hard. Perhaps it's because John McTiernan, who directed the great first Die hard movie, returned to direct this third one. As a result, this movie does live up to its title, delivering action-packed fun with a vengeance.
For more information about Die Hard With a Vengeance, visit the Internet Movie Database.
In addition, check out my review of the following:
The Die Hard Films