Die Hard With a Vengeance Review

by Stephen Rafferty (rafferty AT otc DOT fsu DOT edu)
June 1st, 1995

A film review by Stephen Rafferty
Copyright 1995 Stephen Rafferty

*- horrible, don't bother
**- poor, not much here.
***- good.
****- great, well worth it.
*****- Excellent, one of the year's best.


Directed by John McTiernan
Starring Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Irons. Screenplay by Jonathan Hensleigh

    At it's best, the third installment of the "Die Hard" series is a hair-raising, non-stop ride. At worst, it is a terribly cliched action flick, with a horrible villain. Luckily, the film seems to stay on the first course, but is brought down every so often by the latter.
    Bruce Willis returns as John McClane, the New York cop who we've seen defend the Nakatomi building in LA, and an airport in the mid-west. Now he is back in NYC and is on suspension, when a bomb goes off in downtown Manhattan. A mysterious bomber called Simon, (Jeremy Irons with a horrendous German accent) saying he wants to play a game with John McClane or he'll set off more bombs. It turns out that Simon is the brother of the the terrorist that McClane threw off the Nakatomi building in DIE HARD 1. Thus starts a goose chase which pits McClane's wits against Simon's. At the first installment, McClane runs into a shop owner in Harlem called Zeus, played by Samuel Jackson. Zeus saves McClane's life and is thrust into the game with him. The pair are asked to work out mathematical and word riddles in order to keep Simon from blowing up more buildings.

    Eventually we find out Simon is not motivated by the cause we thought, and is simply trying to steal from the Federal Reserve. Of course, McClane figures this out quickly and works to subvert the ex-army leader Simon. The action culminates in a confrontation outside a motel in Canada.

    This film has some of the best car chase scenes I've ever seen, including a wild short-cut through Central Park. Willis is again adept as the constantly mischievious cop, and he performs physically even better than in the original film. Late in the film he is covered with blood and grease, and it is so vivid that one can almost smell and feel it's sticky, engulfing aaaggghhh! Willis and Jackson are paired well together here, with a lot of chemistry on screen. Willis shines brightest when he is playing off Jackson, and Jackson is so on top of his craft right now he needs no-one, he's just plain good! However, that can not be said for Jeremy Irons, who is easily the worst part of this film. He can't pull off a believable German accent, and postures so theatrically he looks like a statue. For a man who so often dazzles us with fine acting, I have to wonder what happened to Irons here? Could John McTiernan just not handle him, or did he want such a cheesy performance? Regardless, it does not work, and Irons really brings the film down a notch

    It's not the best of the series, but I do recommend DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE for anyone who wants to see some great action, and some nice work between Willis and Jackson.

Stephen Rafferty

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