New York's under siege in third Die Hard film
Die Hard With a Vengeance
Directed by John McTiernan.
Written by Jonathan Hensleigh.
Starring Bruce Willis, Jeremy Irons, and Samuel L. Jackson.
By Kamal Swamidoss
If you haven't already seen it, you're missing a good one. Die Hard With A Vengeance is the action-film king of this summer's excellent releases, including Crimson Tide and Braveheart. From the opening frames, when a bomb detonates in a department store - sending debris out into a crowded New York City avenue - you know early on that this film aims solely at maximizing action.
Some might contend that a film sequel can never reach the greatness that the first one achieved. Granted, Die Hard 2: Die Harder wasn't as good as Die Hard , but Die Hard With a Vengeance shows that a sequel can easily match the original. In fact, minute for minute, number three is also more action-packed than the first two, which were tied down to specific locations. The fact that it Die Hard With A Vengeance moves through a whole city gives the story many more opportunities.
However, the story in the original Die Hard was much more believable than this story. The sheer number of coincidental encounters between the good guys and the bad guys defies the laws of probability in favor of dumb luck. Such events make action films interesting, but too many of them can tarnish the effect.
The three stars act well, but their characters don't evoke as much emotion from the viewer as those in Braveheart. In this third film, the lead character John McClane (Bruce Willis) enlists the help of Zeus Carver (Samuel L. Jackson), a streetwise shop owner in Harlem, to engage in a battle of wits with criminal mastermind and explosives expert Simon Gruber (Jeremy Irons). Gruber, of course, is the brother of Hans Gruber (from the first film), and claims to carry a grudge against McClane. Despite this plot device, it was difficult to get past the actors on the screen and into the story: Deeper characterizations and a more believable plot would have helped.
There are two things detracted from the general value of Die Hard With a Vengeance. The music was at best good, never extraordinary, and in one point strikingly boring. Second, the action sequences move extremely fast and don't allow for much casual analysis: a second viewing turned up several subtle cues critical to the story.