Review: Die Hard with a Vengeance

dhwav_cov.jpgYear: 1995
Director: John McTiernan
Starring: Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Irons
Kaboom Review Action Movie Rating: 89

Plot
A madman scatters bombs over New York City then embroils Officer John McClane in a deadly game of Simon Says to find them.

Quick Review
Die Hard with a Vengeance is an outstanding action movie. The pace is great, the acting convincing, and the plot largely plausible. In many ways this film recaptures the excitement and tension of the original Die Hard film. The only negatives I can come up with are the frequent, minor issues with the plot and premise, but the movie easily overwhelms these negatives. This is an action movie well worth watching. We happily present it with a Kaboom Review Silver Medal Award.

Full Review
Die Hard had a solid premise and a tight plot. Die Hard 2: Die Harder dropped the ball in this regard. I’m happy to say that Die Hard with a Vengeance—with original director John McTiernan at the helm—is more in line with the original Die Hard than it is with the first sequel. Die Hard with a Vengeance recaptures much of the greatness of the first film.

The premise, story, and plot work in this film. The sequencing of events, the strategies of the characters, and the plausibility of the situation are much stronger here. The characters’ reactions dhwav1.jpgare convincing and feel natural. As in the original Die Hard, Bruce Willis, as policeman John McClane, gets some ample Hollywood leeway to do things a normal mortal couldn’t, but that premise for the most part stays consistent. The end result is a film that grabs you, pulls you in, and provides two good hours of entertainment.

Having said that, the film does have quite a few nagging issues that impact the premise. The most glaring of these is an unlikely cable climb sequence McClane and Zeus perform to get onto a cargo ship. The scene is one of those head shakers that stretch believability until it snaps. In other places the film is sloppy with the details. For example, bombs are left in suitcases in parks, but no one touches them. Also, Simon Gruber, the villain in this film (played by Jeremy Irons), is apparently watching McClane and his sidekick Zeus Carver (played by Samuel L. Jackson) everywhere they go. But he often requires them to make incredible runs across the city, and the film never explains how Simon is able to cover those same distances, or is able to see McClane and Zeus at the various locations. At one point in the movie, Zeus makes a miraculous recovery from a bullet wound. Lastly, even given the urgency of the situation, police coverage left at a bombsite is a bit too light for believability. There are many other little areas where the film picks up little nicks. On the whole, however, these are minor. The main thrust of the film is excellent and obscures these minor problems.

dhwav3.jpgThe pace and action in Die Hard with a Vengeance are solid. The movie flies along, right from the start, and doesn’t let up until the final credits. There is a great blend of filler and dialog to develop the characters a bit and flesh out the story, but this meshes with the action well. Action sequences are solid. There is a little bit for everyone: some wonderful car races across New York City, a couple of entertaining chase scenes, a few tense scenes involving bombs, energetic fights, things that go boom, and an occasional shootout. Stunts are well choreographed and tied to the action. Explosions are not as spectacular as those of Die Hard 2, but on the whole are realistic and gripping. As a hallmark of the Die Hard series, John McClane gets the crap beat out of him during the movie. In Die Hard with a Vengeance, Zeus also suffers this same fate.

The acting and script in Die Hard with a Vengeance help drive the film and help it obscure the minor dings in the plot. Samuel L. Jackson and Bruce Willis do a remarkable job together. The chemistry between the two is outstanding. Their interaction is funny, well acted, and greatly entertaining. Their characters are both consistent and instantly likeable. Both actors deliver lines with emotion and force. There is levity in the midst of all the action and tension as well: in places dhwav2.jpgthe movie is laugh out loud funny. Supporting actors are generally excellent. The supporting cast does a solid getting the tension in the movie right. This goes a long way to helping the believability of the action. Of particular note, I especially liked Kevin Chamberlin as bomb expert Charles Weiss. Jeremy Irons, as the main villain, does an above average job in his role as the mastermind behind the evil in the movie. The rest of the villains are rather generic, but get the job done.

As for our babes and hunks ratings, Die Hard with a Vengeance is much like its predecessors. Bonnie Bedalia isn’t in this movie at all, but there is one female villain (played by Sam Phillips) who adds just a touch of beauty to the film. From the hunk standpoint, Willis and Jackson give the movie an above average rating.

In conclusion, Die Hard with a Vengeance is an outstanding action movie. The pace is great, the acting convincing, and the plot for the most part plausible. In many ways this film recaptures the excitement and tension of the original. The only negatives I can come up with are the frequent, minor issues with the plot and premise, but the movie easily overwhelms these negatives. This is an action movie well worth watching. We happily present it with a Kaboom Review Silver Medal Award.

Fun Fact
According to IMDB, the sandwich board that John McClane wore in Harlem at the beginning of the film actually said, “I hate everyone”. The more racist version of the board, which appears in the film, was created digitally during film editing.

Related Reviews

Die Hard, Die Hard 2: Die Harder, Live Free or Die Hard

Score
Pace: 88
Plot: 89
Action: 83
Consistent Premise: 68
Script/Quotes: 82
Characters: 96
Acting: 88
Villain: 73
Body Count: 33
Time to First Dead Body: Don’t Know
Babes: 6
Hunks: 78
Explosions: 54
Special Effects: 38
Stunts: 56
Ending: 79

Overall: 89

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