Simon Says it's Vengeance Time
The longer the "Die Hard" movies have gone on the less entertaining they have become. What I mean is that the first "Die Hard" with its limitations of an office block was great, "Die Hard 2" widened the space to an airport but was still very good. But now the third movie, "Die Hard: With a Vengeance", comes along and widens the playing field some more and now are hero John McClane is running all over New York and in doing so loses something that made the previous movies special. In fact allowing McClane to go all over New York makes "Die Hard: With a Vengeance" almost a routine action, cop movie which only manages to feel different because of our familiarity with and love of Bruce Willis as John McClane.
Suspended from duty and hitting the bottle John McClane (Bruce Willis - Striking Distance) finds himself drawn back into duty when a bomb goes off in New York and the police are ordered by a man called Simon (Jeremy Irons - Appaloosa) to bring in McClane. It soon becomes apparent that Simon has planted a bomb in one of the thousands of schools in New York and McClane along with civilian Zeus (Samuel L. Jackson - True Romance), who accidentally gets involved, have to unravel a series of clues and games which Simon has left for them to discover where the bomb is. But when a smaller bomb goes off in the subway station near the Federal Reserve, McClane starts to believe that Simon has other plans than blowing up a school of children.
There are two sides to the storyline to "Die Hard: With a Vengeance" and the good side is that there is a sort of cleverness to it as we watch McClane and Zeus going all over New York trying to solve puzzles to get the next clue to stop a bomb going off. The cleverness extends to the fact that the bomb really isn't the only crime and is in fact a diversion tactic and to add to this the bad guy happens to be related to Hans Gruber from the first "Die Hard" movie. What this means is that "Die Hard: With a Vengeance" isn't just a simple storyline, it has been thought out to be a tiny bit more intelligent.
But the thing is and the other side to the storyline is because we now have McClane running all over New York it's lost something which made the "Die Hard" movies entertaining. The fact that McClane no longer is confined to one place means that it's not that unlike other action movies. It also doesn't help that this time around there is no Holly or Sgt. Powell so the only real link to the "Die Hard" movies is John McClane and that grubby vest he likes to wear.
What also seems to have changed this time around is the emphasis has been switched. Where in the first two movies the storyline kept you interested this time around it seems to be more about the action. From the opening scene we get an explosion and after that you are not more than a few minutes away from another action scene, be it a car chase, a train crash, a jump from a bridge and so on. Now I don't mind action scenes but so many of them make "Die Hard: With a Vengeance" feel like it has lost its way and is trying to entertain by being like any other movie. It also doesn't help that with a bigger area for McClane to play in the action scenes are also bigger and not always better with some, in particular the escape from a water filled tunnel, being over the top and fake.
Of course a "Die Hard" movie wouldn't be right without some comedy and something which does work is pairing McClane up with a civilian with attitude. What this means is that there is plenty of snappy wise cracks flowing through out the movie and they help make it feel like a "Die Hard" movie when the rest of it veers towards being just like any other action/ cop movie.
This pairing also means we see Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson together on screen for most of the movie and it works. Whilst Willis falls back into character with ease having another bad day as he takes on the bad guys, Jackson gives us loads of attitude as Zeus Carver. The pairing works well in an almost "Lethal Weapon" kind of way as Zeus constantly bitches at McClane for his dangerous attitude. And add to this you have Jeremy Irons taking on the role as bad guy Simon Gruber and whilst he's no Alan Rickman when it comes to delivering evil he delivers a more smoother kind of criminal.
What this all boils down to is that "Die Hard: With a Vengeance" is by no means a bad movie and is a crowd pleaser for those who like action filled movies. But compared to the previous two "Die Hard" movies it is weaker and borders on almost being generic because of the wider area that the movie focuses upon. But it is a "Die Hard" movie and Bruce Willis is once more good fun as John McClane and pairing Willis up with Samuel L. Jackson works well so that there is plenty of wise ass dialogue and bitching going on.