Die Hard With a Vengeance

Year: 1995
Director: John McTiernan
Writer: Jonathan Hensleigh
Cast: Bruce Willis, Samuel L Jackson, Jeremy Irons, Graham Greene

To a large extent, it was a case of too little too late for McClane. The second Die Hard felt like it belonged to the original, this one didn't. While we all lament formula filmmaking, the trappings of a genre or even a franchise promise things producers and directors fail to offer at their peril.

One is the entire premise of McClane as the Lone Wolf, fighting the bad guys on his own terms when his own forces either can't or won't support him. Throwing him into the mix with a smarmy, black-militant shop owner from Harlem (Jackson) not only strayed from that important element, it was unrealistic (and as ridiculous as it sounds, the basic premise – if not the execution of the Die Hard films was realistic).

What was worse, all McClane's character seemed to have drained away. First, he's apparently finally been dumped by his wife (the absent Bonnie Bedelia as Holly) although I can't remember it actually saying that anywhere in the script, and he's turned into a headache pill-addicted deadbeat, just some of the circumstances that conspire to rob him of his cocky swagger and cheeky hard-headed charm.

Plus it's little more than a chase around New York, with some cars and explosions thrown in. The huge, explosive and exciting set pieces from the first two films — a skyscraper crawling with armed baddies and an airport takeover by terrorists and the delicious possibilities for action they presented – are gone.

Willis is back in New York when another psycho bomber strikes. Instead of setting the tone for bigger things to come, the explosion at a famed department store in the opening sequence was sadly the biggest part of the film. The villain turns out to be pursuing a very unglamourous vendetta against McClane himself, and while there are snippets of the theatrics of the first two films, it both falls flat and fails to ring true.

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