DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE

(1995)
With Bruce Willis, Jeremy Irons, Samuel L. Jackson, Graham Greene, Colleen Camp, Larry Bryggman, Anthony Peck
Directed by John McTeirnan

Reviewed by JB

"Who wrote Swannee River?.. humna humna... Bonnie Bedelia?     DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE, the second sequel to DIE HARD, pretends that DIE HARD 2 never existed. In DIE HARD 2, John McClane had moved to Los Angeles and reconciled with his wife.  In DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE, he is once again a New York City cop, estranged from his wife, still having problems accepting she has a career of her own.  Although the original DIE HARD is often referenced, there are no references to any events in DIE HARD 2.  The film also lacks, thankfully, the slavish desire to repeat, recreate or top sequences from previous films, a tendency that has marred many a sequel.  DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE plays as if it were the sequel that everybody wanted to make instead of DIE HARD 2.

    Although it does not top the original, DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE IS a remarkable film in its own right. As Leonard Maltin so aptly put it, it is like watching a 12-chapter movie serial in the space of two hours. Within minutes of the opening credits, there is an explosion in New York City and a nutjob on the phone to the police talking in riddles.  Said nutjob, played by Jeremy Irons, sends John McClane around New York City on a series of wild goose chases, giving him riddles to solve in a set amount of time.  If McClane should fail in any task, more bombs will go off.  Thus, the stage is set for nonstop action. 

     Bruce Willis could spend the rest of his life making the worst films ever and would still be beloved for his portrayal of the great action hero of the '80s and '90s, John McClane.  Samuel L. Jackson, as an innocent bystander who accidentally gets tangled up in McClane's really bad day, makes an excellent screen partner, his explosive anger playing off Willis's cool demeanor in ways that keep the humor level high.  Although he won't make you forget Alan Rickman, Jeremy Irons is the next best thing as the film's villain, whose true motive for blowing up various parts of New York City is not revealed for quite some time.

     DIE HARD was the perfect action film.  DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE is not perfect, but because it doesn't try to be DIE HARD all over again, it is a fun and freewheeling sequel that will keep you on the edge of your seat for two hours.  Which is all DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE really wants to do anyway. 4 - JB

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