‘Die Hard With a Vengeance’ Is Still the Best Third Film of Any Movie Franchise 25 Years Later
Yippee-ki-yay, baby. It’s been 25 years, but John McClaine’s worst hangover still stands as his best performance (and the best third movie of any movie franchise). Don’t believe us? Read on.
Let’s take a moment to sympathize with one Lieutenant John McClane. First, his wife’s Christmas party gets hijacked by a German radical (Die Hard) and then, two years later, some more radicals seize control of the airport is wife is about to arrive at (Die Hard 2, aka Die Harder). By the time Die Hard with a Vengeance comes along, McClane and his wife, Holly, are estranged. In the third film (released in May of 1995), McClane is in a state of understandable disarray up until his boss “fucks up a perfectly good hangover.”
Originally written as a Lethal Weapon sequel (among other things), Die Hard with a Vengeance reunited Bruce Willis with original Die Hard director, John McTiernan. Half twisted game of Simon Says, half bank heist, Die Hard with a Vengeance was the most relentless action film of 1995. With the help of the ever-entertaining Samuel L. Jackson’s Zeus, Willis’ McClane took on Jeremy Irons’s Simon Gruber, the brother of the original Die Hard’s Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman). Twenty-five years later, the adventure that ruined McClane’s hangover is his very best, and here’s why.
Cover Photo: Twentieth Century Fox
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It’s better than a bloody mary.
Die Hard with a Vengeance begins with a bomb destroying an apartment store. "Simon" then calls the New York City Police Department demanding that the suspended John McClane be dropped in Harlem wearing a very provocative sign. So, Inspector Walter Cobb and company find McClane; he's hungover and annoyed. However, life waits for no man and the events of the day sober him up real quick. Hurt or hungover, McClane is one of the most relatable heroes in cinematic history.
The New York City backdrop.
The first two Die Hard movies saw McClane isolated from his police department. In Die Hard with a Vengeance, not only do we get to see him in his natural habitat but in his native New York. The city itself is a refreshing change of pace for the franchise, allowing the events and action to cover a lot of ground while simultaneously embracing the hustle and bustle of NYC.
Samuel L. Jackson.
The man can do no wrong.
The 'Lethal Weapon'-esque chemistry between its leads.
Die Hard 3 endured a lot of rewrites; eventually, production found a script that Warner Bros. had originally brought as a Lethal Weapon sequel—it was rewritten as Die Hard with a Vengeance. That said, it's not hard to imagine McClane as Riggs and Zeus as Murtaugh; however, it's a disservice to Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson to merely make that comparison. The latter is arguably a better duo, so much so that it's a shame we haven't gotten more of them.
Contemporary race relations are somehow an intricate part of the plot.
It's almost startling how unafraid Die Hard with a Vengeance is of race relations. Everyone's cards are on the table. Zeus is annoyed by white people and McClane is annoyed by that. This reoccurring dialogue between the characters makes the film feel fresh (even 25 years later)...and it's much more interesting than all that Holly melodrama from the first two films.
Riddle me this…
You have a 3-gallon jug and a 5-gallon jug. You have five minutes to fill one of the jugs with exactly 4 gallons of water in it. You have access to a fountain where you can take as much water as you want. How do you do it?
Die Hard with a Vengeance proves itself to be the thinking man's Die Hard...also that we should've paid attention in math class.
Bruce Willis in his action-hero prime.
Not that he can't do this shit all day but he had just the right amount of hair here.
It has the best action sequences.
In Die Hard films (especially the latest ones), there's a fine line between thrilling and ridiculously over-the-top when it comes to action sequences. Die Hard with a Vengeance toes that line brilliantly.
Even this worked somehow.
Jeremy Irons: Second only to Alan Rickman.
There's nothing like a good old British baddie...or German...wait, what?
'Die Hard With a Vengeance: The Last Acceptable Pun'
This franchise loves its wordplay. We became acutely aware of this when Die Hard 2: Die Harder came out and barely noticed when Die Hard with a Vengeance came out. Like the priest, pastor, and rabbi who walk into a bar, by the time Live Free or Die Hard and A Good Day to Die Hard arrived in theaters, we'd had enough.