Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995) / Action-Thriller
aka Die Hard 3
MPAA Rated: R for strong violence and pervasive strong language
Running Time: 131 min.
Cast: Bruce Willis, Jeremy Irons, Samuel L. Jackson, Graham Greene, Colleen Camp, Larry Bryggman, Anthony Peck, Nick Wyman
Director: John McTiernan
Screenplay: Jonathan Hensleigh
Review published December 31, 2005
John McTiernan (The Hunt for Red October, Predator) resumes the helm in the series that made him an esteemed action director with the third installment in the Die Hard trilogy. Like the first outing, the action flies fast and furious, with excellent stuntwork and impressive action pieces. Unlike the first one, this vehicle often stretches the disbelief quotient beyond the breaking point, much to the detriment of what might otherwise be a dynamite sequel.
Bruce Willis (Color of Night, Pulp Fiction) resumes the role of John McClane, now portrayed as a down-and-out alcoholic after the breakup of his marriage, estrangement of his children, and suspension from the police force for his poor behavior on the job, and on some days, not showing up at all. Enter Simon (Irons, Reversal of Fortune), brother of Hans Gruber (from the first Die Hard), who decides to play games with John involving some highly explosive chemicals hidden all around the city. Tagging along with John is Zeus (Jackson, Jurassic Park), who is none-too-pleased to be having to traverse out of his home in Harlem to "save the white man's ass", until he finds his own kids may be in danger when Simon threatens to blow up a school if John and Zeus don't do as "Simon says".
II should be noted that the powerhouse first 45 minutes of Die Hard with a Vengeance are breathtakingly done, showcasing one impressive stunt after another across the city streets of New York, filmed on location in a stunningly realistic simulation of real NYC hustle and bustle. Without this fantastic opening third of the movie, there would probably not be enough here to recommend, as once Irons takes center stage, the action and characters go from gritty realism to over-the-top cartoonish.
The action never lets up for a moment, and if action is all you want, you'll have no problems enjoying Die Hard 3 to its fullest potential. However, it is a bit of a letdown that what promised to be a return to the glory of the original intelligence that was the first Die Hard would evolve into something that is so downright dumb and predictable at times, that it gluts the film into tedium all too often, despite some very impressive bits of all-out action.
Still, Die Hard with a Vengeance packs so much into it, it's well worth seeing for all fans of the previous two entries, even with the flaws. The action is just that impressive.
It may not be the benchmark action classic the original is, but at least they've ended the series with a bang.
-- Preceded by Die Hard and Die Hard 2. Followed by Live Free or Die Hard and A Good Day to Die Hard.
©1999 Vince Leo