Mystery Fest: Die Hard: With a Vengeance

1995 action stupidity

Rating: 14/20

Plot: A suspended Jon McClane, that guy from the first two Die Hard movies, is invited to play an elaborate and dangerous game of Truth or Dare by somebody really into nursery rhymes and riddles. His sidekick is a pawn shop owner who doesn't want to be a sidekick. Together, they have to work to figure out who's behind the monkey business and save the world.

Hey, did you know that Bruce Willis is a white guy and Samuel L. Jackson is black? If not, this movie will pound that idea into your head. Willis plays his character about as comfortably as you'd expect him to except this time he's got a headache. The role looks painful, and the character, like in the other two movies, is battered by the end of it although, like the other movies, he's predictably invincible. Jackson's cool from an early interaction with some superfluous children who get in the way of the movie's story a little later on until the very end although the character's a little uneven. Love the first interaction with McClane though, a simple but ironic "Morning." This movie's got all the pieces it needs to be a big summer action blockbuster--there's the hero, the sidekick, a crazy villain, a psychologist, a bomb expert, a guy with a mustache. But really, it's the city and all the extras who give it all the color. There's a great opener where "Summer in the City" is played over shots of New York City, places our characters most likely visited since they seemed to be all over the place. But then the director--a wildly-masturbation (I'm guessing) John McTiernan who returned to the franchise after missing the kinda-crappy second one--makes a critical error with an explosion because nobody--and I mean nobody--interrupts the Lovin' Spoonful. There's a story being told here, but like the first movie in the series (and probably the second), it really doesn't matter. This is all about thrills, sometimes cheap and sometimes ingenious. And the first half of the movie is a lot of fun. You've got a wonderfully entertaining drive through Central Park, a subterranean scene involving a subway, sandwich board shenanigans on the streets of Harlem. It's a very New York movie, isn't it? Irons is about what you'd expect as a bad guy for better or worse. He's actually better when he's just a voice ("G-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-gullibility.") and a bunch of nursery rhymes. Once you see his face for the first time, that's when this starts to fall apart and devolve into rapid fire action scene choppiness. The thrills are still there, but it's all more difficult to buy into and all to quick to really care about. Luckily, the action scenes are so well done that you don't really care all that much. That, and the movie's funny. Willis and Jackson have great rapport, and I enjoyed the typically New York reactions--maybe stereotypically New York reactions--to everything that was going on. It's a fun little rush of a movie. I can't finish this without mentioning mute Katya, played by musician Sam Phillips who adds a little eye candy.

This is a couple points better than the second Die Hard movie and a couple points worse than the first. Therefore, I adjusted my rating for the first to a 16/20.

My favorite line: "Maybe that mime," with a Wilhelm Scream.


cory said...

I like your review and would also give it a 16 for the same reasons, and would put it only behind the original, albeit WAY behind.

This does have one of my all-time favorite ludicrous movie moments, though. What are the odds that Willis would be water-launched from the pipe just as Jackson is driving by? Love that kind of thing.

Shane said...

Heh. I didn't even think about how ludicrous that is. By the time that scene came along, it made perfect sense using Die Hard logic.