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Die Hard With a Vengeance

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4

*Also starring: Jeremy Irons, Graham Greene, Colleen Camp, Sam Phillips, Larry Bryggman, Anthony Peck

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Steve Rhodes review follows movie reviewmovie review
2.  Andrew Hicks read the review movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review

Review by Steve Rhodes
2 stars out of 4

DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE is the latest and hopefully last of the DIE HARD movies. Once again, we have tough cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) down on his luck, with a three day old beard, and "one day away from becoming a full fledged alcoholic." Into the world steps trouble, and, of course, it goes looking specifically for him.

This time trouble is named Simon (Jeremy Irons) as in "Simon says." For the first time, however, McClane doesn't have his wife, Holly (Bonnie Bedelia) to help him since Bedelia (best in HEART LIKE A WHEEL) had a salary dispute with the studio. As a replacement helper, he gets a black Harlem shopkeeper called Zeus Carver (Samuel L. Jackson).

I am sorry to say that this DIE HARD tells the story of a mad bomber who is blowing up large public buildings causing massive destruction and who threatens to blow up even more if McClane and Zeus do not follow his every instruction to the letter. I say I am sorry because the horrors of the Oklahoma bombing were too fresh in my memory to let me enjoy the special effects. They were just too real. On the other hand, most of my opinion of the movie would have been the same even if it were in not released in such close proximity to the Oklahoma tragedy.

In this highly derivative movie, we have two plots. One is taken from BATMAN and has to do with Simon's riddles ("who was 21 of 42" figure it out within 3 hours or hundreds of children die) and with childhood ("shouldn't have done that, I didn't say 'Simon says'"). The other is a rehash of Die Hard 2 where McClane tries to figure out what the bad guys (Germans) are really up to.

DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE is directed by the same one, John McTiernan, who did the original DIE HARD rather than DIE HARD 2's Renny Harlin. The real different is the writer. For the first time, we have Jonathan Hensleigh instead of Steven E. De Souza who was the lead writer on the first two DIE HARDs. De Souza is a much more seasoned writer starting with his first movie, 48 HRS. whose success was a tribute to his funny, intelligent and imaginative script as much as to Eddie Murphy's acting debut.

The good news about this most recent DIE HARD is that we have lots of action, some funny lines, great special effects of mass destruction, and exhilarating car chases. The bad news is that you have seen and heard this all before in so many other movies. The script has little new in it other than some new ways to destroy people and buildings. I must admit, I really did like the plot twist around the motive for the second major bombing.

As far as the acting goes, it was fine, but nothing fresh. Bruce Willis is the same in every role. He has a single character he can play, although in some movies, he does shave. I loved DIE HARD and DIE HARD 2 and thought he was terrific in each. Here he is too much of a retread. In many of his movies (don't see COLOR OF NIGHT for example), he becomes a parody of an overacting actor.

Samuel L. Jackson (from PULP FICTION among others) does okay with a poor script that kept falling back on racial insults in a poor attempt to prop up weak writing. Jeremy Irons (DAMAGE, REVERSAL OF FORTUNE, DEAD RINGERS, and most of all BRIDESHEAD REVISITED on TV) is one of the most talented actors living today. Here he does the most he can with the character he is given. He does a good villain.

By half way through this overly long picture, I was getting exhausted by all of the games Simon was making McClane and Zeus perform like puppets. It got extremely repetitious and monotonous watching a very bloody and sweaty McClean accomplish the impossible every five minutes. I kept hoping that the make up department would run out of all of that disgusting blood. Simon was driving them like raw recruits in boot camp. I got as tired as they did, but I was not being paid millions and millions of dollars to endure this as WIllis and Jackson were. When the credits finally rolled, I was worn out and ready to leave.

DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE runs a debilitating 2:10 thanks to editor John Wright. It is correctly rated R for massive amounts of blood, gore, and destruction. There was no sex or violence to intrude on this mayhem. This is only for older teenagers I think, but I am sure that kids way too young will see it in droves. I do not recommend the show, but since there was a fair amount in the first half that I liked, I award it **.

Copyright 1995 Steve Rhodes

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