Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995) – John McTiernan

Director John McTiernan returns for the third (and arguably the last real) Die Hard film that sees Bruce Willis reprise his role as New York Police Detective John McClane (Michael Kamen returns as well to deliver the score) in a story that, this time, is set in New York.

Joining Willis on screen is Jeremy Irons as the film’s villain, Simon, Samuel L. Jackson as Zeus, and Graham Greene as Detective Joe Lambert.

When explosions rock New York City, McClane finds himself the target of a vengeful game that has the city held hostage, and Jackson’s Zeus gets wrangled into helping out the beat down, worn out and almost full blown alcoholic (as Bonnie Bedelia did not elect to return for the film, I feel this actually works for the character).

McClane and Zeus race from location to location in a game of Simon Says all while John tries to figure out what the hell is going on, and why Simon seems to have a hate on for him. The reveal, surprise, surprise, is that this time it’s personal.

It’s a fun, fast and furious action flick that makes McClane a human being, he gets incredibly hurt in this film, physically battered, but his stubborn endurance keeps pushing him on, and then there’s that sarcastic sense of humour.

While the following films kept, to a degree, his sense of humour, this is the last film where McClane feels like a real guy. In the next films he feels more like Bruce Willis wanting to play a superhero version of McClane as the situations become even more ridiculous.

McTiernan brings his attention to detail, and his ability to shoot engaging action sequences to the streets of New York, and it looks great as McClane and Zeus run about, as the truth about Simon, and what is really going on is revealed.

It’s weird, because when I think of Die Hard, I think of the first two films, but settling in for this one, for the first time in a long time… this is very much a Die Hard movie. And it still works really well and McTiernan tries to give it as much authenticity as he can, with location shoots, even while you know things would never happen like this.

The film has some great sequences, and pairing Willis up with Jackson is just pure gold, because in this film, these actors are made for each other. They just work, and it’s a brilliant odd couple pairing. And now, knowing what’s to come, I almost wish they had left the series at this, or at least remembered that despite the fact that he’s on the big screen, John McClane is just an good cop (not a super one), caught on a bad day.

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