Die Hard: With a Vengeance (1995)
Directed by John McTiernan
Re-conceived from screenwriter Jonathan Hensleigh’s proto-script “Simon Says,” the stirring story behind “Die Hard: With a Vengeance” partners Bruce Willis, as NYPD cop John McClane, with a buddy – and not just any buddy, but his “Pulp Fiction” co-star from the year before, Samuel L. Jackson. Sounds like an unstoppable duo, but when Simon (an eerily raucous Jeremy Irons) says run, you run. Or else something in the bustling city of New York explodes. While Simon, another Euro terrorist, holds these two on a string, his cronies begin their underhanded plan. McClane has to peel back layers of Simon’s dastardly plan while running to phone booths and solving riddles. It all sounds like fun and games until Simon gets serious.
Willis’ deadpan comedy complements Jackson’s loud-and-proud humor perfectly. They’re an absolute gas together, but it’s ultimately Jeremy Irons that exudes the most cool. He’s slick, he’s suave, and he reminds me a lot of another “Die Hard” villain. You’ll see why. The film with the most star power shines the brightest, but no movie is only as good as its cast. Look at “Valentine’s Day.” But believe me, it boasts way more than its brilliant ensemble. Who would think, the film that finally stayed grounded would fly the highest? That’s right; this absolute thrill ride rivals the first in terms of sheer adventure and excitement. Where “Die Hard” stays within the confines of a single skyscraper, Simon runs McClane all over NYC. The scope changes, but the fun doesn’t. “With a Vengeance” still doesn’t have the shoot-outs the first offered, but you’ll hardly miss them. Instead, you’re almost falling off the edge of your seat waiting to see what Simon will do next. Think The Joker or Bane in “The Dark Knight” trilogy. The suspense is in not knowing.
“Die Hard: With a Vengeance” is a wildly entertaining goose chase that ends with a lot of fun and a lot of fire. McClane with a partner makes me think there just might be power in numbers.