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Die Hard with a Vengeance Print E-mail
Tuesday, 01 February 2005

Die Hard With A Vengeance

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
MPAA rating: R
starring: Bruce Willis, Jeremy Irons, Samuel L. Jackson, Graham Greene
release year: 1995
film rating: Three and a half stars
sound/picture: Three and a half stars
reviewed by: Abbie Bernstein

While the ‘Die Hard’ series are available separately, it is sort of fun watching them one after the other to compare and contrast. For instance, Bruce Willis’ John McClane starts out the first movie feeling blue and looking a little weary due to a marital separation and the disorientation of being a New Yorker enduring a Los Angeles Christmas. In ‘Die Hard 2’ -- although he gets frazzled soon enough -- McClane starts out happy to be meeting his wife at a New York airport in the December snow. In the third installment, ‘Die Hard With a Vengeance,’ we’re back in the Big Apple. It’s finally summer in the city (as the song on the soundtrack so rousingly points out in Chapter 1), but McClane is having trouble with his wife and his job, separated from one and on suspension from the other. We’re not surprised by his bad luck -- as we know from the first two films, McClane uses up all his good luck just staying alive.

Director John McTiernan (who also helmed the original ‘Die Hard’) and writer Jonathan Hensleigh get ‘With a Vengeance’ off to the fastest ‘Die Hard’ start yet, having an explosion detonate in Chapter 1. The mysterious bomber demands that the police put him in touch with McClane -- no one else will do. McClane tries to figure out what this particular terrorist has against him as he’s sent McClane racing back and forth across N.Y.C. in a strange game of "Simon Says" that involves large servings of humiliation, as well as more incendiary devices.

The revelation of the baddie’s identity turns up in Chapter 9, although audience members may have a good guess as to who "Simon" is as soon as they hear his Anglo-German accent purring over the phone. Those with especially keen deductive powers may even be able to figure out what the villain is really after.

McTiernan and Hensleigh keep the pace jolting forward, with nary a dull moment. Chapter 3 dramatically introduces Jackson’s character and a special effect that even most keen-eyed viewers won’t spot as such. Willis wears a sandwich board that was blank when filming was done on location. The words were digitally added later (because of what the words are, it’s easy to understand why), but the shot is seamless. Chapter 7 has complex audio, with crowd sounds, screeching train brakes and a ringing phone, segueing into another full-on explosion and crash in Chapter 8. Chapter 18 has less vivid sounds of rushing water in a flood sequence than might be expected, but in Chapter 19, the track fills up with rain, car squeals and gunfire. Chapter 23 has a nice, subtle vapor-release sound effect and Chapter 25 packs layer upon layer into a suitably bang-up climax.

Although Willis is the star of the franchise, Samuel L. Jackson commands plenty of attention with a mixture of to-the-brink anger and integrity as Zeus, a civilian unwillingly drawn into McClane’s bad day. Willis has McClane’s put-upon, irascible rectitude down to a science by now. The two men have good sandpapery chemistry together that’s as entertaining as the multitude of vivid setpieces that occur with gratifying frequency. Indeed, the vitality and continuity of ‘Die Hard With a Vengeance’ arguably make it the best of the ‘Die Hard’ trilogy.

more details
sound format:
English 5.1 (THX remastered; English Dolby Surround; French Dolby Surround)
aspect ratio(s):
special features: ‘Making Of’ Featurette; Slide Show; Cast Biographies; Theatrical Trailer; English Closed-Captioning; Spanish Subtitles; Chapter Search
comments: email us here...
reference system
DVD player: Kenwood DV-403
receiver: Kenwood VR-407
main speakers: Paradigm Atom
center speaker: Paradigm CC-170
rear speakers: Paradigm ADP-70
subwoofer: Paradigm PDR-10
monitor: 27-inch Toshiba

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