So once again we have survived.

Die Hard: With a Vengeance

DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE

My first time

Well I have found that a lot of my readers have also come to love the films of the Bruce Willis Die Hard series. But I wonder how many of you are in the same situation as me. Die Hard comes out in 1988, you love it. Die Hard 2 comes out a couple years later, pretty fucking good. Die Hard part 3 comes out but wait a minute, you are incapacitated and/or incarcerated at the time and are not able to ever get around to seeing the thing until letterbox video in the year 2000.

So yes, this is my first time for Die Hard With a Vengeance which is what they call part 3 for whatever reason, not sure about that one get back to me on that one later.

The other Die Hards took place in a limited setting – part 1, they take over a building. Part 2, they took over an airport. Part 3 opens by montaging New York city to the tune of “Summer in the City” by the Lovin Spoonful. You got the cars, you got the people, you got the stores and then oh yeah you got a big explosion. So right away you say wait a minute, these terrorists, these motherfuckers are working on a bigger canvas this time. That canvas, in my opinion, is called New York city. So it’s a whole different thing we’re dealing with here McClane.

Now the second difference here is that McClane doesn’t just happen to be there by coincidence. In fact he’s on suspension and he’s out drinking and they have to find him, because the mastermind who calls himself Simon asks for McClane specifically. (Not to give anything away but he is Hans Grueber’s brother out for revenge.)

In my opinion the opening is the best part of this piece. This one harkens way the fuck back to Bruce Willis’s Die Hard 1 (1988) in which John McClane was introduced as Hollywood’s most fucked up action hero. He’s separated from his wife, he fucks up bad and starts arguing with her, I mean the guy’s falling apart so much he’s walking around without shoes on.

Die Hard: With a VengeanceJohn McClane With a Vengeance is introduced in the same type of way. This time he’s suspended from the force, everyone hates him and makes fun of him. He looks like shit, he complains about his hangover, brags about his dick, and his co-workers enjoy sending him out into Harlem in his underwear wearing a sign that says “I hate niggers” (by special request from this fucker Simon.)

So while in the other ones McClane just wants to get through all this so he can talk to his wife, in this one he just wants to get over the fucking hangover. Unfortunately I didn’t expect this but his relationship with Hollie seems to be down the tubes, they’re living in different cities again and they haven’t talked in months. You don’t even see the dame during the movie although he tries to call her on the phone.

I wish they would have continued with McClane as this drunk fuck, but he kind of turns into Batman somewhere along the way, probably because of all this riddle me this shit Simon is doing. One problem I have is Bruce starts to get cocky. In the other ones, he is in a tight situation and has to improvise, and alot of times he starts swearing cause he knows the chances of this shit working are slim. I mean how are you going to be sure you can tie a firehose around your waist and swing down and kick through a window with bare feet. Well Bruce With a Vengeance wouldn’t be nervous. He knows how to drive a taxi the wrong way on a busy one way street, through a park, off a bridge – doesn’t even hesitate. He knows how to grappling hook from a bridge to a boat. And the cops all hate him at the beginning but then they let him do whatever he wants, like fly up in a helicopter and get on the megaphone and go, “Hey dickhead, did I come at a bad time?” as the cops surround the building.

On the positive side, he doesn’t get his badge back at the end or anything like that. He just blows the dude up and goes to make a phone call.

I like this movie. Simon’s robbery scheme is clever, and his riddles lead to some exciting action scenes. And of course Bruce is still representing for the Badass community which I really preciate, don’t get me wrong.

I don’t know why they needed to give Bruce a partner, but I enjoyed this gentleman Samuel L. Jackson. Like me Samuel is a Positive individual who tries to keep peace in his community. At the same time he does not want anything from no fucking whites and he is suspicious of McClane. And what Samuel shows in my opinion is that you can be a Positive individual and still say motherfucker alot, which in my opinion is a lesson Hollywood needs to understand if they’re ever going to come to terms with a dude like me.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 5th, 2000 at 11:58 am and is filed under Action, Bruce, Reviews, Thriller. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

17 Responses to “Die Hard: With a Vengeance”

  1. Revisited this one on BluRay with the lady. She liked it the best of the series (even moreso than Part One?!?!) The first half is still incredible – the tension is unrelenting, the script cleverly finds a way to use the whole city as a canvas without repeating the same terrorist formula. The action is great, Jackson is on fire here, and he and Willis have some amazing chemistry together. Irons is fun (and surprisingly sexy, says the lady), and it’s nice to see McClane surrounded by competent cops who actually work as a team instead of giving him the runaround, Dennis Franz-style. (The cop who uses his badge # as his lottery pick was played by Anthony Peck, who was actually one of Reginald VelJohnson’s fellow LAPD buddies in Die Hard 1. Not sure if he moved to NY or if he was playing a different character). For an under-appreciated sequel, it’s definitely shown its influence on The Dark Knight and SAW, etc.

    But then that last half kicks in, and the heist plot and the riddle/bomb plot just don’t gel together. If I remember correctly, Die Hard 2 was based off of a book with just one bad guy (a la Speed), and it kinda shoehorned in all these other terrorists just to have gunfights and fistfights otherwise there wouldn’t be a movie. This one suffers from the same problem, and the bad guys aren’t really hatable enough or developed enough, and of course there’s that random headscratcher of an ending (plus the alternate ending which is hilariously ill-conceived). I mean, say what you will about Die Hard 2 being better or worse, but at least it worked more as a cohesive whole and didn’t reek of reshoots and focus groups.

    I also still don’t like the lack of Holly – not saying she has to be in danger or even in the movie again, but the whole “they’re broken up and he has a hangover” thing just feels like a retread of his Last Boy Scout or Striking Distance characters, it doesn’t feel like the same guy from Die Hard 1 and 2. Still, this was a really solid summer movie, it’s no classic but still essential viewing.

    Oh yeah, one more way it was influential- the poster (as seen above) was atrocious. I remember seeing it in high school and being like “are you serious that’s the poster??” Hell, you might be able to trace today’s “lousy photoshopped poster” trend back to this one.

  2. The first will always be the best, but this comes damn close for me. Adding the Sam Jackson character was a stroke of good script-writing. It gave it the added dimension of a buddy story, rather than rehashing what’s been done before. And I can’t think of many other action movies that used New York City this well.

  3. Yeah, almost every action movie talks about “the city is another character”, but DH3 is one of the only ones that truly utilize it spectacularly. Watching this again really makes me miss McTiernan.

    Speaking of which, does anyone know why Joel Silver didn’t produce this one (or part 4)? Did him and Willis have a post-Hudson Hawk/Last Boy Scout fallout?

  4. neal2zod, the lack of Silver might have been a rights issue. After all this is the only DIE HARD movie that is (at least in Europe) distributed by Buena Vista. You know how complicated those legal battles can be sometimes.
    But I don’t know the facts, it’s just a suspicion. So don’t run around, telling everybody “CJ told me!”

  5. And yeah, Zeus Fucking Carver is the best sidekick the could ever give to McClane.

  6. I think Silver was fired by Fox, then started producing only for WB until very recently when he left after they didn’t push the last Sherlock Holmes movie hard enough.

  7. Ah, thx for the theories, guys. I would totally agree with Silver in that case – Sherlock Holmes 2 just seemed to suddenly show up in theatres, I barely even knew it came out.

    Speaking of which, I don’t think Vern ever reviewed those – there’s some excellent, almost Seagal-ian fight scenes in both of them, and the whole forest scene in SH2 (imagine the “shooting the jungle” scene in Predator + people running away + bullet time) was a classic.

  8. Well, actually looking at his IMDB now it appears he’s still attached to a lot of WB products so who knows. Probably water under the bridge.

  9. Man, what a coincidence – looks like WB and Joel Silver have parted ways after all:

    http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118059756

    Hopefully this means a return to Die Hard 6, Commando 2, and Predatorss.

  10. “As studios focus more on their bottom line, Silver joins the rest of the biz forced to give up rich overhead deals and adapt to a more corporate way of making movies.”

    Jesus, that’s depressing.

  11. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    September 26th, 2012 at 4:56 am

    Wow, it seems to be a week for comments on reviews of films that I don’t like as much as many people do. Case in point, “Die Hard 3”. I think Neal hits it on the head in his original post. The film starts out great, Jesus is a great addition to the canon, and it’s all very fast-paced and tense. Then they throw in one of the laziest villains in mainstream action movie history (Hans Gruber’s brother? REALLY?!) and the whole thing just breaks down.

    I would add that I actually prefer Jeremy Irons in the risible-but-hilarious “Dungeons and Dragons” movie than I do in this. It’s sort of Stallone-in-“Judge Dredd” versus Stallone-in-“The Expendables”. As bad as Irons was in “Dragons”, at least he was trying SOMETHING, even if it came off as just ridiculously hammy. To try and fail is better than to not try at all, which is basically what Irons does in “Die Hard 2”. Unless you call a really, really bad Alan Rickman impression “something”. Didn’t help that he had basically nothing to work with either.

    But here’s the difference for me: Alan Rickman never TRIES to be menacing or cool. He just is. One of my many, many favorite moments of the original “Die Hard” is when he’s on the phone to the FBI, making his fake “ransom demands”, and comes up with a whole list of “freedom fighters” to be released from jail, ending up with a totally off-the-wall choice. Can’t remember who it is now, but it has his cohorts looking at him in puzzlement. And Rickman says casually: “I read about him in People magazine”. (Or something like that, I forget the exact quote.) The line reading is just perfect – Rickman sounds so cocksure and smarmy, yet at the same time so businesslike. He clearly loves himself and loves what he’s doing, but he’s not trying to impress anybody with it – he’s just a cool guy enjoying himself in the moment.

    Anyway, Simon Gruber, Hans’ evil brother (and seriously, Simon? Who the fuck came up with that name? Did they reject Giles and Cuthbert as just too “macho”?) is CONSTANTLY trying to look impressive; and boy, does it show. I think his first line in the entire film is something like “We’ve got them chasing terrorists around the city” – turns to camera and gives a smug knowing leer – “just as we planned.” That very moment I was thinking: “Oh, I’m gonna HATE you.” And hate him I did. It says something when you’re giving poor miscast Tim Olyphant a run for the title of “lamest villain in a Die Hard movie”. Not that I can put it all on Irons; the man is saddled with a boring character and boring dialogue. He doesn’t really have any memorable lines (or if he does, as I’ve forgotten them.) For most of the movie he really doesn’t do anything but try and look masterful while he’s ordering his underlings about. It just shows how good both the character and the performance of Hans Gruber were.

  12. It’s funny that you mention the smarm in Rickman’s performance, Paul – when I rewatched Die Hard 1 the other day I kept thinking “who the hell does Hans remind me of?” and I finally realized it was Bill Maher. Besides the slicked back hair and the too-tight suit, Rickman totally has the same snarky, smug, pleased-with-himself demeanor, it’s kind of hilarious to see now.

    As for Irons, yes – he is AWESOME in Dungeons and Dragons. There’s a deleted scene/outake on the DVD with him giving some huge bellowing speech, and then they call cut and his whole expression changes and he just kinda slumps off the set, all defeated-looking, like “what the fuck am i doing with my career?”

    But yeah, Simon does seem like a weirdly written character. They go out of their way to show that Simon was never going to kill a school full of children, and that him and his goons were trying to only knock out most of the bank cops, and only killing two of them in self-defense (“I told you no shooting!”). His men have the chance to kill Zeus twice(!) and they let him go.

    Yet he also blows up a giant department store and a subway that SHOULD have killed hundreds of people, possibly children, but the ADR dialogue makes it clear that nobody was killed, and just people got “cuts and bruises” (yeah right). It’s like they wanted it both ways with his character. But then, weirdly, McClane is in “shoot first and ask questions later” mode here – he point-blank caps those 4 guys in the elevator even though he only knows one of them is bad (the guy who stole his friend’s badge) and later shoots those two guys sitting in the construction truck about 10 times each, nevermind they might have just been two construction workers sitting in a truck! Plus the poor “Don’t Shoot!” guy at the end – I’m not sure why shooting a surrendering bad guy is supposed to be funny in this movie – if he did it to one of the baddies in Die Hard 2 it would have made sense, but not here.

  13. One rumor I’ve heard that Connery turned down the role, which made me think the Simon character could have been Hans’ father out for revenge which would have had more dramatic potential. That said, I still like the “life has it’s little bonuses” scene, inferring that in the end yeah this was done in part to get his revenge on McClane.

  14. Rewatching this last night I noticed something new that raises a question: Does Argyle only own one tape (“Skeletons” by Stevie Wonder) or does he like it so much he just continuously replays it over and over again throughout the whole night?

  15. ^Shit, thought this was the die hard 1 review for some reason. Google said so…

  16. Stu— I hate to be the guy that asks, but I gots to axe: Were you on performance-enhancing drugs during those last two posts? Because if you were, absolution is but an interview away:

    … and yes, she will be serving punch & cookies.

    Stay strong, bud. We’re with you all the way.

  17. Bob Simon was a bankrupt businessman who kidnapped his partner’s daughter. He was a fuck up, not a psycho.

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