Die Hard: With A Vengeance (1995): Breakdown by Rantbo
DIE HARD in a city. The same shit happens to the same guy, thrice.
John McClane loses more hair, gains a magical African American friend, kills terrorists, smokes cigarettes and watches Captain Kangaroo. McClane is back, and it’s as though DIE HARDER never happened. This is never verified, but it’s pretty clear that McTiernan was not a fan of part II, as the events of Christmas Eve 1990 are never mentioned and John is inexplicably separated from Holly and living back in NYC. And while I liked DH2, I’m glad to see our hero back to his home field. An advantage McClane will need, as this time, the “DIE HARD” scenario IS the city. And also, he won’t have to go it alone.
For the first time McClane is given a true side-kick, tag-along buddy—Samuel L.B.A.M.F. Jackson, who plays a racist pawnshop owner with an attitude lassoed into the mix.
The story of the film has a much more natural approach and likelier (for the character, at least) scenario. The brother of Hans Gruber, Simon (Jeremy Irons), wants VENGEANCE against McClane and goes about obtaining it with a rigorous series of deadly riddles and deathtraps that he segues into a scheme to rip off a shitload of federal reserve gold. Of course, now that I type that out, it sounds ludicrous. But, whatever. DH3 is top notch action for the third-time in a row. Something practically unheard of.
VENGEANCE was the first DIE HARD flick I ever saw, so it holds a special place in my heart. Still to this day I have to call it my favorite. I’ve always been a sucker for the buddy-cop genre, and this is one of the greats. My nostalgic love is backed up by that fact that this film is 150% old-school mother fucker. From beginning to end this film delivers the goods in new and exciting ways, while still managing to bring it all back to what made us love McClane’s story to begin with. Returning to the fold are the wife-beater and depressed marital fuck-up persona and new are the interracial teammate and gigantic playground for the misadventures of one reluctant cowboy. Giddy-up, partners.
[HOW BAD-ASS ARE THE MAIN CHARACTERS?]
Bruce Willis is Detective John McClane With A Vengeance
Something odd happens at the start of this film, John McClane is woken up and dragged into work to GET back his badge and gun. This goes against all 80s logic. It’s so weird in fact, that it’s almost as though there is a missing DIE HARD entry out there that properly put a cap on the 80s cop action movie stereotypes and ended with the officer being stripped of his tin and iron for good, right before the credits.
Another new feature to our working-class hero is the added adjective of burn-out. McClane has never been so low. Single, hung-over and sloppier than Courtney Love after last call—what the fuck happened?
“He stepped on so many toes in this department, by this time next month he’s going to be a security guard. His own wife wants nothing to do with him, and he’s about two steps shy of becoming a full-blown alcoholic.”
McClane: “One step, one step.”
Where is this missing movie!? Alas, we never may know how he became such a wreck. But, we have to deal with what we’ve got. One plus to McClane being drenched in the stench of failure is that he seems to give less than a shit about anyone or anything. Not, to say that he’s not concerned with the lives being threatened, just that I don’t think he would have bothered to leave his bed the morning of the attack had it not been work-related. McClane now lives for one thing and one thing only, the job at hand. He has excepted his fate as the garbage-man, ever waiting for the shit to start spilling into the streets in need of cleaning up. And no one can do it better.
Even hung-over with a “bad-fuckin’-headache”, McClane can still kick the shit out of an entire team of internationally trained freelance super-terrorists, and still have the good-nature to laugh about it. McClane truly is a ballsy hero.
Samuel L. Jackson is Zeus ‘The Good Samaritan’ Carver
Carver is your average racist pawnshop owner and electrician from across 110th street. Zeus “joins forces”, as it were, with Captain Die Hard while McClane is on his first “assignment” from Simon. Wear an “I Hate Niggers” sandwich board in nothing else but underwear in the center of Harlem. Naturally curious, Zeus inquires as to the presence of the insane white man and in interfering with Simon’s fun, is forced to play along for the duration of the game. Now, I mentioned this before (several times), Zeus is played by Samuel L. Jackson and as such, is very Samuel L. Jackson-esque. Meaning, he’s a streetwise, smart-mouth, badass who’s not to be fucked with.
Though in not being a fellow cop, Carver is also the sympathetic victim that the audience can associate with. Something that was lacking in part 2, as by then we all knew what a badass McClane could be. Zeus was just caught in the wrong place, at the wrong time, trying to do the right thing. Just like McClane in the Nakatomi Plaza. So, in a way, Zues Carver is the Black John McClane. And this “Badass?” case is closed.
[THE BODY COUNT: 16 AND 1 UNCERTAIN]
What happened? McClane not only regressed with his kills, but he managed to drop to single digits. Most would give him a tally of 9, but I have to say it’s 8 for certain with 1 possible. When stuck in an elevator with 4 mercs, McClane clearly kills three of them, but the fourth is left in question, as McClane only head butts him a few times. It’s possible that a stay bullet from one of the other attackers sealed his fate, but it’s too hard to tell.
As for the super terrorists, a minuscule 4. Seven if you count Simon, his girlfriend and the helicopter pilot that made the three of them crash into a pole at the end. That means that almost half as many of their total was their own people. In fact, exactly half as Crazy Bitch shoots the penultimate villain for discovering their double-cross. What a bunch of maroons. The last death in question has to be my favorite, read on…
[MOST SATISFYING DEATH]
Toward the end, John and Zeus sneak aboard the bad guy’s ship via suspended winch-cable. Of, course the ship is moving and before they are able to reach their destination safely, the cable runs outta slack. Falling the rest of the way, the source of the winch, a truck, follows suit and causes the cable to crack like a whip, catching a lone sentry in the midsection. The happy-accident is made all the more funny by the fact that afterward, McClane and Carver each grab a section of his body and drag it away for no clear reason. And if you say, to hide the body—bullshit. That cable didn’t cauterize the fucker, his guts sprayed the deck like candy from a burst piñata. There is no hiding that. So, unless there is a deleted scene featuring McClane and Carver with a mop and bucket, I’m convinced these guys toyed with the corpse for shits and giggles.
[DUDESWEAT AND MACHISMO]
Yet again, there is niet. This has to be THE least gay buddy-cop movie ever made. The only thing I can really think of to even misconstrue is the fact that McClane strips to his boxers to walk around Harlem with the ‘I Hate Niggers’ sandwich-board for a shirt. But, that’s not really homoerotic, at all. Unless you’re some sick-ass masochistic racist that is.
[EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY]
The only women in the film are female cops and Simon’s crazy-ass girlfriend.
The lady cops don’t get in the way, and in fact actually help with the problems given to the city. There is this one black lady, whose job it seems to be is to just answer terrorist threats and parlay them to the men that are in charge. But labeling a female as anti-feministic for being a secretary is just unnecessary, as who else would answer the phones? That’s too easy. The only ‘lady’ left is Gruber’s bitch. She’s insane and violent, and subsequently more interesting than Simon himself, so I can’t fault her there. I could argue that she furthers the stereotype that German women are cold, unfriendly psychos, but I don’t feel like going there either.
[EPIC MOMENT AND BEST ONE-LINER]
Nothing really epic stands out in my mind on this one. I really like the film as a whole, but the entire thing is just one constant strung together rush of intense running back and forth and puzzle solving (like a Resident Evil game without the zombies). But I guess I can go with Simon’s woman over-killing a security guard with a sick-looking knife. That was pretty memorable.
The flick has a bunch of funny dialogue and the banter between John and Zeus is classic, but there are very few good one-liners. “Yippee-Ki-Yay” does make it’s obligatory appearance, but McClane says it well after the decimation of his enemies, making it seem almost tacked on by McTiernan due to studio pressure. So, I’ll go with a line Zeus says to Simon over the phone.
Simon: “…You interfered with a well laid plan.”
Zeus: “Yeah, well you can stick your well-laid plan up your well-laid ass.”
[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]
Learn your presidents names, as you never know when a psycho with a vendetta will bait you with a history riddle to disarm a bomb.
[THE CHECKLIST: 13 outta 25]
[ ] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor”
[X] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[ ] Crotch Attack
[ ] Dialogue Telling Us How Bad-Ass The Main Character(s) Is/Are
[X] Ending Featuring An Ambulance, A Blanket or A Towel
[X] Giant Explosion(s)
[ ] Heavy Artillery
[X] Improvised Weapon(s)
[X] Macho Mode(s) Of Transportation
[X] Main Character Sports Facial Accessory(s)
[ ] Manly Embrace(s)
[ ] Notorious Stunt-Man Sighting
[ ] Passage(s) Of Time Via Montage
[X] Politically Fueled Plot Point(s)
[X] Senseless Destruction Of Property
[X] Shoot Out(s) and/or Sword Fight(s)
[ ] Slow-Motion Finishing Move(s)/Death(s)
[ ] Stupid Authoritative Figure(s)
[X] Substance Usage and/or Abuse
[ ] Tis The Season
[ ] Torture Sequence(s)
[X] Unnecessary Sequel [LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD]
[X] Vehicle Chase(s)
[ ] Vigilante Justice