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Die Hard: With a Vengeance

Die Hard: With a Vengeance

What She said:

She

I think this film series is best defined by its very title, Die Hard.  The movies truly are about a guy who is not easy to kill.  John McClane is a bleeder and a half, but he also seems to have a limitless supply of the red stuff and so he takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’. 

In this 1995 three-quel, McClane is not just having a bad day, he’s having a rough 6 months.  Things are again not going too well between him and his wife, and he finds himself back in New York City working as a cop while she is in L.A.  His work life isn’t much better though.  When we join McClane’s story, he’s on suspension, on the road to full-blown termination.  He seems to have a bit of a drinking problem, and he’s just not in a good mood.  This movie jumps right in, with a mysterious gravely-voiced terrorist threatening the city while requesting that John McClane be the one to try to stop him.  This baddie is a big fan of blowing things up.  McClane is forced to hit the streets, following a slew of hints while ultimately just doing this psycho’s bidding.  McClane doesn’t go it alone, though, picking up sidekick Zeus (Samuel L. Jackson), a tough talking shop keeper from Harlem who is also having a bad day.  As McClane tries to foil the villain’s attempts to explode people, he also begins to make some discoveries about what’s really going on.  Simon says…only McClane can truly save the City.

The reason I say, “Simon says,” is because that’s the name of the bad guy, and that’s his trademark when he orders McClane around.  It’s the ultimate in cheesy, but that’s what the movie is all about.  It’s a cheesy harmless action flick.  I’m not kidding when I say the movie starts right up.  You better have seen the other ones because there’s not much of a character backstory.  If you don’t know who John McClane is, well, tough cookies.  The movie starts as a bit of a cat and mouse chase across NYC.  We hop from place to place trying to stop Simon from blowing things up.  It works for a while.  Then the plot begins to shift, and we see what’s really going on.  It takes a while for this shift to take place, and so it might catch you by surprise, but I wouldn’t say it’s a horrible notion.  Unfortunately, it makes the movie feel a bit longer than it needs to be.  The action doesn’t run out, but your ability to take it all in might.  It’s a little exhausting.

To counter this, the film has a good amount of humor and one-liners.  It works pretty well to lighten the mood.  Is the movie pretty formulaic?  Yes.  But as the third installment in an action series, it’s not really meant to be enlightening.  It’s just a summer blockbuster meant to entertain.  It’s worth noting that this film does NOT take place around Christmas, which is actually a refreshing turn.  Afterall, how many times can these bad things happen to one man on Christmas?

Bruce Willis reprises the role of McClane, while Jeremy Irons plays Simon.  Irons’ voice over the phone is quite entertaining.  The first time I heard him I pointed at the screen and yelled, “Hey, that’s Uncle Scar!”  He’s sort of Uncle Scar putting on a slightly different and quite phony accent.  Much like Alan Rickman in the first Die Hard the British accent faking a different accent doesn’t quite work.  They just sound a little drunk. 

Overall, the movie is harmless fun.  Not the best action flick ever, but also not painful to watch.

Thumbs mostly up.

What he said:

He

No matter how many times John McClane (Bruce Willis) saves the day, he always seems to have his detractors. In Die Hard: With a Vengeance, he seems to be having marital problems again, is on the verge of getting fired, and has a terrorist who seemingly wants to kill him. That may sound rather intense for you and me, but just another day in the life of John McClane.

It’s the beginning of another normal day in NY when suddenly a bomb goes off in the middle of the morning commute. Shortly after, the NYPD gets a call from a man going by the name of Simon (Jeremy Irons). Simon claims responsibility for the attack and says there will be more if he doesn’t get to speak with Lt. John McClane. The only problem is McClane is suspended and having one hell of a hangover.  They eventually dig him up from wherever it was he was buried, and he embarks on a wild goose chase as instructed by Simon.

 Along for the ride is a shopkeeper from Harlem named Zeus (Samuel L. Jackson). Zeus gets pulled into all of this when he helps McClane escape from a bunch of guys who want to kick his ass as a result of one of Simon’s pranks. Simon makes McClake do all kinds of stuff that puts his life at risk and this is just one of them. This character is Samuel L. Jackson at his finest. Zeus isn’t the most politically correct guy out there. In fact, you could probably say he might even be a bit of a racist. But you can’t help and cheer for the guy. He is clever, smart, and as funny as a sidekick gets. McClane and Zeus are sent on a rat race throughout the city solving riddles, disarming bombs, and clashing with terrorists.

Die Hard: With a Vengeance

McClane is as indestructible as ever. What the She says is true:  McClane is indeed a bleeder. I don’t think there’s another character in movie history that routinely takes a beating as often as John McClane does. But that is why we like him isn’t it? He isn’t a former black ops soldier, doesn’t know kung fu, and, is as no frills as you can get. Yet, he always finds a way to pull it out in the end. He wins ugly and that’s why we like him. It makes the whole thing seem more believable despite the fact that action movies a loaded with unrealistic moments.

Zeus continues the tradition of giving McClane a sidekick. If you want to get technical, he really had a couple in each of the previous movies. But this time around, not only does have one sidekick, the character plays a much bigger role than in the previous chapters of this series. Plus, Samuel L. Jackson is really funny. It’s not that the other characters from previous movies weren’t any good, but Samuel L. Jackson has a certain charisma and this character tapped into that perfectly.

Jeremy Irons was entertaining as his nemesis Simon. He’s got a cool presence about him that kind of commands your attention. His banter with McClane is really amusing, particularly when the characters come face-to-face later in the movie. There’s something of a mutual respect between them even though they are trying to kill one another. I agree that his German accent isn’t great, I just didn’t notice all that much because of the entertainment factor.

The only real gripe I have with this movie was that it was a little anticlimactic. The endings of both the first and second movies are so epic compared to this one it was a little disappointing; especially when you consider the buildup in the previous scene.

Overall though, it’s an entertaining movie. Considering it’s the third chapter in the series, it’s impressive they still manage to keep it interesting.

Diagnosis: Thumbs up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on August 22, 2012.