|Die Hard with a Vengeance|
|Written by Abbie Bernstein|
|Tuesday, 01 February 2005|
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.