Two years later, right around that same December benchmark, a whole new band of mercenary pants-loads (who clearly never saw Die Hard) showed up to mess up the vacation plans of a whole fuckload of D.C. air travelers. Once again, one man, the same man, took his shoe off up each and every one of their asses.
Now, it's 1995 and a whole new group of international thuggosaurs have come all this way do nothing more than blow some crap up, kill a few innocents, mess up the US Economy and come out richer in the process... and our favorite Supercop (McClaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaane!)... is on Suspension!
He's hung over too.
Yep... it's safe to say that MCCLANE IS BACK!!! John McClane... DIE HARD... Bruce Willis! First he was trapped as the sole good guy, the New York Cop in the L.A. High Rise. Next he was the sole good guy, the L.A. Cop in the Washington Air Port. Now, for the first time, we see McClane on his own turf... the New York Cop in New York City. The bad news is that once again he's estranged from sweet Holly. The great news is that this has only pissed him off more. McClane is Die Hard and all he needs are terrorist asses to kick.
Unluckily for McClane (but luckily for the audience) just such a terrorist ass has shown up in grand ol' Enn Why See, right when the McClane Asylum has been suspended and is hung over with a very, very, very bad headache. Said terrorist ass has a mad on just for mad John. Playing a deadly game of "Simon Says", this villain puts John in all kinds of puzzling situations that are sure to get him killed. If John doesn't play, Simon blows crap up. He hates that. Him and his new "partner", a reluctant shop owner named Zeus Carver, whom "Simon" insists stay in the game after butting into the first insulting puzzle.
But why John McClane? Is this Mad Bomber what bombs at mid-day just some news junkie? Maybe he can't stop watching The Chris Farley Show (That was awesome!). If the fact that this Simon jerk's real name is Peter Krieg and that he was born "Simon Gruber" doesn't clue you in like a member of the Jeopardy! Clue Crew, the Archival footage of Alan Rickman falling out of a window, looking like he just found out humans can't fly, surely will.
And if you think that's a spoiler, kids, dream on, dream on, dream on, dream your self a dream come true. You just a-ain't s-s-seen n-n-n-nothin' yet!
If the fact that Simon is played by Jeremy Irons doesn't give you the hint that there's both class and cunning around the proverbial corner, then the fact that Zeus is played by Samuel L. Jackson will surely clue you in that there's plenty of screamed, witty profanity filling up the screen and speakers. And that's not all that's surprising here.
Director John McTiernan credits his return here to the opportunity to do something different from the other Die Hard films. Die Hard: With a Vengeance is definitely something different than the first two films in the series, the second of which was a thematic repeat of the first. Now instead of an airport or a high rise, John and his team (which also includes Larry Bryggman, Graham Greene and Colleen Camp, few of whom share aspirin with John) are playing "Die Hard" around all of New York City with greater stakes! Further, we finally get to see John McClane, supercop, actually being a cop (albeit a suspended cop) in his home town, rather than simply being a capable victim of circumstance. Hell, he's still a victim of circumstance, but this time it's not that simple! Further, this is the first time we get to see McClane be McClane in broad daylight... and it works.
However, much of With A Vengeance does emulate Die Hard and Die Hard 2 in their implausible and improbable relationship with reality. Though this is handled a bit better and more cannily than it was in the second, it's not handled with quite as much "FUN" as it was in the first film. There's a lot of outlandish and impossible here... but I'll be horn swoggled with a swoggling horn if this isn't worth every second of viewing.
It's great to watch how well all of the competing puzzle pieces fit together here into an exciting whole. Sure this might not always be the most realistic thing in seven reels, but every loose end is tied, every hint bears fruit by the last frame and every whisper that eventually becomes a scream still fits well in the overall Die Hard
This is especially noteworthy in that the script for Die Hard: With A Vengeance wasn't originally intended to be a Die Hard sequel at all. Jonathan Hensleigh originally wrote this as Simon Says, a stand alone action film. Before it was made into Die Hard 3 it was actually considered for adaptation into Lethal Weapon 4. While this isn't anything new to Hollywood, or the Die Hard "thrillogy" (Die Hard 2 was adapted from a novel that was completely unrelated to Roderick Thorp's original novel... which itself wasn't even called Die Hard), it is cool to see how the elements of the series do manage to fit here. Naturally Willis makes McClane in any movie, but his already volatile marriage easily explains why Holly's not around and his rock-bottom is pretty damned plausible considering where he's been.
And it's not getting any better either. John goes through a heck of a lot of Hell here to the point that he actually has to explain to Zeus that "It's not my blood!" The bad guys he's facing off with are similarly nots to be fuk't wit'! Terror Couple (who could kill Colonel Stuart) Nicholas Wyman's Mathias Targo and Sam Phillips' Katya alone could've had a Boris and Natasha flick made about them! You've got car chases, explosions, gun fights, dismemberments, beatings, people getting chopped in half, bridge dives, floods and at one point even a McClane geyser. Yep, I knew he was ol' reliable!
Maaaaaaaaaaaybe this one isn't for the kids, but it's certainly for the action fan in all of us, especially with a little brains. Each fracture in this Shatterday fits together like jigsaw teeth by the final act, which is satisfying and action packed. Hey, it's not as great as Die Hard but what is, man? This is one great action movie with a great plot in the same family as Night Hawks, Speed and Blown Away (but, you know, better... it's got McClaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaane!!!). It's also packed with humor, in-jokes, and a certain "Cowboy" catch phrase that could take "I'll Be Back!" over it's knee and spank it rouge! Four Stars out of Five for Die Hard: With a Vengeance, the revenge tale that could blow you away if given a riddle of a chance! For twelve years, the "Die Hard Trilogy" has been as over as mullets. Now, in 2007, Live Free or Die Hard, the fourth in the saga is hitting theatres WITH A VENGEANCE. At last, Johnny's come marching home again. See you tomorrow... in the next reel... motherfucker!
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