Sunday 25 July 2021

Movie Review: Die Hard With A Vengeance (1995)

The third instalment in the franchise, Die Hard With A Vengeance introduces buddy film elements and breaks free from a single-location focus. While the entertainment value remains high, bloat creeps in with the loss of narrative discipline.

A terrorist calling himself Simon (Jeremy Irons) triggers an explosion at a New York City department store, then threatens more carnage unless Police Lieutenant John McClane (Bruce Willis) follows his every order. The first instruction sends McClane to Harlem, where he is rescued from a rough encounter by store owner Zeus (Samuel L. Jackson). Simon then dispatches McClane and Zeus on a cross-town race to try and stop a bomb from exploding on a subway train. They are able to minimize casualties, but the bomb causes structural damage under Wall Street.

Simon next claims to have a bomb hidden in one of the City's schools, without revealing which one. McClane starts to suspect the terrorist is distracting all emergency responders to clear the way for a major crime. He makes his way back to Wall Street to try and uncover Simon's identity and real objectives.

John McTiernan returns as director, and the script by Jonathan Hensleigh (based on his book) is ambitious. Realizing the need for a refresh after confining the action in the first two movies to a high rise then an airport, Die Hard With A Vengeance expands the geography to all of New York City. The premise is broadened to a manic treasure hunt orchestrated by a madman enjoying his Simon Says powers while unspooling a malevolent hidden plot. McClane also gets support from a reluctant but resourceful partner in store owner Zeus.

The highlights are enjoyable, including the near-mortal sandwich board mess in Harlem, the race from Harlem to Wall Street through Central Park, and the edgy banter between McClane and Zeus. With almost cartoonish levels of mayhem and spectacular stunts, the energy levels are maintained at a remarkable level throughout the 128 minutes.

But the signs of fatigue creeping into the series are also obvious. The quips are forced and the action scenes often unnecessarily extended. Only Simon's voice is heard for the first half, robbing the movie of its antagonist, and it takes a long time for the outline of the genuine crime to take shape. The school bombing sub-plot drags on well past the point of effectiveness. The final act is more frenzied than good, a flurry of people, places and double-crosses dissolving into a choppy climax.

Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson and Jeremy Irons bring plenty of star power, and Die Hard With A Vengeance never lacks visual polish. The novelty may be fading, but John McClane still carries caustic swagger.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

We welcome reader comments about this post.