Best Movies of All Time + sequel



You can watch the trailer here

Any time you get a chance to watch Bruce Willis as his alter-ego John McClane, you're definitely in for a treat. Although the latest installment in the Die Hard franchise (2007's Live Free or Die Hard) was a bit of a step down, it can't take away from the series as a whole. Die Hard: With a Vengeance was the only film I had yet to see, but now I can say that I have seen, and am a fan, of the entire Die Hard saga. John McTiernan took this film and ran with it.

The story this time around doesn't take place at Christmastime like the other three films. Instead, we see a suspended McClane brought back into active service when a madman with an explosive edge demands that he lead the investigation. Speaking merely in rhymes and riddles, our villain sends McClane and a "good Samaritan" named Zeus (Samuel L. Jackson) around New York City looking for bombs placed at various locations. However, through all of the turmoil, a deeper plot is uncovered, and the identity of the villain becomes a piece of the puzzle. I won't give away that little twist, but it happens early enough in the film that it's hardly a spoiler. Anyways, gratuitous and sometimes ridiculous action ensues, and the rest can be left to the imagination.

The screenplay this time around is decent, but it's nothing truly spectacular. Granted, it would be tough to oust the original Die Hard film (which I believe is one of the greatest action films of all time), but this film definitely carries its own weight. The story starts off incredibly well, with a clever foe leading our heroes on a wild goose chase throughout the big city streets. The clues are thought-provoking and fascinating, and the villain is painted as a worthy adversary for our mostly-brute-but-sometimes-brains McClane. However, as soon as we finally see the bad guy, things start to spiral into your standard action flick, and it loses a little bit of its cleverness along the way. Still, it is just an action movie, so you can't knock it too much.

I don't have any complaints about the acting. Bruce Willis is Bruce Willis; I mean, he's taking a stab at a character he's already played twice, so I don't think there was really much contemplation about changing the psyche of John McClane. However, there are a couple interesting additions to the cast list that prove very effective. Jeremy Irons is great as our villain (a familiar role for him, if you take a glance at his filmography). He doesn't have a terribly large amount of screen-time, but he makes the most of the time he's given. If the Die Hard franchise does anything extremely well, it's that they present villains who aren't psychologically disturbed or absolute nutcases; rather, they give us brilliant individuals capable of developing mastermind schemes while keeping a sense of calm about them. Irons does well to continue this tradition. The second standout addition this time around is that of Samuel L. Jackson as our "good Samaritan." He saves McClane early in the film then becomes caught up in the action, much to his chagrine. Jackson plays a good character opposite Willis, and their banter throughout the film gives a rise in the tension as well as provide the occasional comic relief.

If I had any real beef with the film, it was just the overuse of the march, "When Johnny Comes Marching Home." It seemed a little out of place in the movie, and it was used over and over again. I constantly found myself taken out of the film just to think about why they put that instrumental bit into the movie. Then again, that's just personal preference; maybe you won't even notice it.

Personally, I think Die Hard: With a Vengeance stands as the second-best film from the franchise, barely squeaking ahead of its immediate predecessor. Obviously nothing will beat the original, but this is still a fun little movie if you're itching for some action.

Grade: B
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1995, action, Bruce Willis, Die Hard, Jeremy Irons, John McTiernan, movie review, Samuel L Jackson, and more:

Relevant to: DIE HARD: WITH A VENGEANCE + sequel