DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE is the latest and hopefully last of the
DIE HARD movies. Once again, we have tough cop John McClane (Bruce
Willis) down on his luck, with a three day old beard, and "one day away
from becoming a full fledged alcoholic." Into the world steps trouble,
and, of course, it goes looking specifically for him.
This time trouble is named Simon (Jeremy Irons) as in "Simon
says." For the first time, however, McClane doesn't have his wife,
Holly (Bonnie Bedelia) to help him since Bedelia (best in HEART LIKE A
WHEEL) had a salary dispute with the studio. As a replacement helper,
he gets a black Harlem shopkeeper called Zeus Carver (Samuel L.
I am sorry to say that this DIE HARD tells the story of a mad
bomber who is blowing up large public buildings causing massive
destruction and who threatens to blow up even more if McClane and Zeus
do not follow his every instruction to the letter. I say I am sorry
because the horrors of the Oklahoma bombing were too fresh in my memory
to let me enjoy the special effects. They were just too real. On the
other hand, most of my opinion of the movie would have been the same
even if it were in not released in such close proximity to the Oklahoma
In this highly derivative movie, we have two plots. One is taken
from BATMAN and has to do with Simon's riddles ("who was 21 of 42"
figure it out within 3 hours or hundreds of children die) and with
childhood ("shouldn't have done that, I didn't say 'Simon says'"). The
other is a rehash of Die Hard 2 where McClane tries to figure out what
the bad guys (Germans) are really up to.
DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE is directed by the same one, John
McTiernan, who did the original DIE HARD rather than DIE HARD 2's Renny
Harlin. The real different is the writer. For the first time, we have
Jonathan Hensleigh instead of Steven E. De Souza who was the lead
writer on the first two DIE HARDs. De Souza is a much more seasoned
writer starting with his first movie, 48 HRS. whose success was a
tribute to his funny, intelligent and imaginative script as much as to
Eddie Murphy's acting debut.
The good news about this most recent DIE HARD is that we have lots
of action, some funny lines, great special effects of mass destruction,
and exhilarating car chases. The bad news is that you have seen and
heard this all before in so many other movies. The script has little
new in it other than some new ways to destroy people and buildings. I
must admit, I really did like the plot twist around the motive for the
second major bombing.
As far as the acting goes, it was fine, but nothing fresh. Bruce
Willis is the same in every role. He has a single character he can
play, although in some movies, he does shave. I loved DIE HARD and DIE
HARD 2 and thought he was terrific in each. Here he is too much of a
retread. In many of his movies (don't see COLOR OF NIGHT for example),
he becomes a parody of an overacting actor.
Samuel L. Jackson (from PULP FICTION among others) does okay with
a poor script that kept falling back on racial insults in a poor
attempt to prop up weak writing. Jeremy Irons (DAMAGE, REVERSAL OF
FORTUNE, DEAD RINGERS, and most of all BRIDESHEAD REVISITED on TV) is
one of the most talented actors living today. Here he does the most he
can with the character he is given. He does a good villain.
By half way through this overly long picture, I was getting
exhausted by all of the games Simon was making McClane and Zeus perform
like puppets. It got extremely repetitious and monotonous watching a
very bloody and sweaty McClean accomplish the impossible every five
minutes. I kept hoping that the make up department would run out of
all of that disgusting blood. Simon was driving them like raw recruits
in boot camp. I got as tired as they did, but I was not being paid
millions and millions of dollars to endure this as WIllis and Jackson
were. When the credits finally rolled, I was worn out and ready to
DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE runs a debilitating 2:10 thanks to
editor John Wright. It is correctly rated R for massive amounts of
blood, gore, and destruction. There was no sex or violence to intrude
on this mayhem. This is only for older teenagers I think, but I am
sure that kids way too young will see it in droves. I do not recommend
the show, but since there was a fair amount in the first half that I
liked, I award it **.
Copyright © 1995 Steve Rhodes