With this having been the first DH film I ever watched (and the only one so far I have seen upon its original theatrical release), I hold a quiet sense of satisfaction that over time it seems to have become generally people's favourite of the series, next to the original. It is much more original than its predecessor, and has much higher-caliber supporting players in Jeremy Irons and Samuel L. Jackson--not to mention the best director the franchise has ever had. This was great to see once again, and I STILL have nightmares with that wicked Katya (played by composer Sam Phillips) slicing my head off...
***Big, dumb, fun action flick with Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson in New York City*** RELEASED IN 1995 and directed by John McTiernan, "Die Hard with a Vengeance" is the third of (currently) five installments in the Die Hard series. In this one, suspended New York City cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) rejoins the force to tangle with a mad-but-genius German bomber named “Simon” (Jeremy Irons) while teaming up with a good Samaritan from Harlem (Samuel L. Jackson). This franchise fills the bill if you're in the mood for big, dumb, fun action thrills. Don't get me wrong because a lot of work goes into making these kinds of films and it takes talent & genius to pull them off. I mean "dumb" in the sense that the focus is on unbelievable action rather than deeper themes beyond "genuinely good people may be flawed, cocky and somewhat profane, but they're courageous and never give up in the face of evil." The Die Hard flicks are the natural progeny of over-the-top films like 1977's "The Gauntlet" where the action scenes are so overdone they're cartoony, but entertaining. There's a thin line that filmmakers must tread with these kinds of blockbusters because they can easily fall into overKILL, like 2001's "The Mummy Returns." "Die Hard with a Vengeance" evades that ditch because it offers entertaining protagonists & antagonists, amusing scenes, worthy bits of character development and a compelling comic booky story. While all five Die Hard movies are of the same action expertise, I prefer the sequels because the original film took place almost entirely in and around a skyscraper. I favor the wider location scope of the others, including this one, which was the best up to this point. It starts out a little shaky because Simon’s shenanigans are so contrived they’re unbelievable, but if you can persevere the story builds momentum and there are surprises. Even John and Zeus’ conflict-habituated relationship has a story arc with Zeus being bluntly confronted with his reverse racism. The sometimes contrary camaraderie of John and Zeus is great. THE MOVIE RUNS 2 hours, 8 minutes and was shot in New York City; Berkeley County, South Carolina; and Jessup, Maryland (ending). ADDITIONAL CAST: Graham Greene and Colleen Camp are on hand as cops while sharp Sam Phillips appears as an icy Euro-villainess. GRADE: A-/B+
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