Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995)

2.5 stars out of 4. Forgettable with a vengeance.

This film simply does not work.

This is a film where the script was tweaked to milk a franchise a third time. It lacks the drive of the first two films and often gets bogged down in scenes that are only present as plot exposition.

A mad bomber has stuck New York, and requested for John McClane to play his little game of Simon Says. Of course, Lieutenant McClane is currently suspended (Haven’t seen that before) and is obviously not in the greatest shape.

He gets stuck with a Harlem shopkeeper with a low opinion of white people, who intercedes on what will likely be McClane’s death warrant. this leads Simon the mad bomber to force Zeus (Samuel L. Jackson) to accompany McClane and the police all around the city looking for more bombs.

Why does McClane need a sidekick? McClane is a lone wolf who relies primarily on his wits to overcome insurmountable odds. It is a completely unnecessary move then, to add in another secondary character except as an attempt for comic relief. That said, Jackson does provide some great moments of exasperation at McClane’s seemingly inane  rhetoric.

Of course, Simon does not really care about blowing up the city.That is merely a diversion so that he may achieve his true goal: robbing the Federal Reserve of billions in gold bullion. Now, just who does that remind you of? Yes this is brother Gruber and he wants revenge.

Sort of. Action films are typically made or broken by their primary antagonist, and Jeremy Irons jsut isn’t given anything to really so as Simon Gruber. He has this wonderful dark dramatic flair for violence that is highly entertaining but the plot has him do nothing! This wasted opportunity is multiplied by the pointless lifeless henchmen who serve no actual purpose.

Even with another Gruber the plot seems like an afterthought.

All of the major problems stem from the fact that a script entitled Simon Says was retrofitted into a Die Hard property. Change the character’s names and it’s another movie again. (Although the point where this script was the next Lethal Weapon 4 should be obvious.)

This film notably has some of the worst CGI I’ve ever seen in the water pipe sequence. It’s just plain bad and quite obvious.

What ultimately hurts the film is its overall reliance on drabness. There is no drive, no spark, no real creativity, and the switch to New York might have seemed like a good idea on paper but it never really translates to anything onscreen. McClane on his home turf should have been something special, but then again when has a Die Hard film been about wide open spaces? When will they learn to isolate and confine our favorite Energizer Bunny again?

Bringing back the original director was an inspired choice. But for a John McTiernan helmed Die Hard sequel, I quite honestly expected a lot more than what this  film is. DH3 never overcomes its debilitating drabness and this even begins to affect the action sequences. The ending is clearly hastily tacked on, and even McClane’s signature line is thrown away. That adequately reflects on the staying power for this romp.

If the intent was to make a film that accurately reflected McClane’s hangover, then they sure nailed it.

For that’s what this is: Die Hard with a Hangover.

EDITIONS: The “THX mastered” Special Edition is, short of the GOUT (George’s Official Unaltered Trilogy) 2006 non-anamorphic Laserdisc master of the Star Wars Trilogy, one of the absolute worst DVD transfers I’ve ever seen. In fact it is so bad that I initially wanted to turn off the film. The big issue is the extreme over reliance on edge enhancement. There is no depth, no detail and everyone looks like a plastic doll. Just an awful disc.

The Blu-ray fixes all of this. Simple transfer, detailed, has actual film grain and a port of the original 5.1 to a DTS HD-ma 5.1 mix that is quite punchy.

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Filed under 2.5 stars, Die Hard, Film Review

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