johnlink ranks DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE (1995)

This was the DIE HARD of my generation. Not to say it was the best, because it certainly was not. But for those discovering R Rated films in the early to mid 90s, this was one of the first to be seen. It is the one I know best. As a teenager, I loved Scar as a villain, and loved Jules as a sidekick. But, the question now of course is, does it hold up?

The third DIE HARD has a villain (Jeremy Irons) running John McClane and Samuel L. all over New York as he plots something bigger.

I watched DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE (1995) on 4.18.09. It was, I would guess, somewhere between my fifteenth and twentieth viewing of the film.

NOTE: THIS RANKING UTILIZES THIS SITE’S ORIGINAL SYSTEMIC ARTICLE WRITING METHOD. THE METHOD BY WHICH THE RANKINGS WERE ARRIVED AT, HOWEVER, REMAINS THE SAME.

FILM

This was originally, according to legend, supposed to be LETHAL WEAPON 4. Mel turned it down. DIE HARD 3 was supposed to be on a boat, but they had to scrap it because of UNDER SIEGE. Time and necessity turned this particular script into DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE. The result is that this feels detached from the first two films. Maybe 5 years did that. Maybe allowing McClane to move so much does that. I think that the lack of focus from the beginning of the project does it. I would have loved to see DIE HARD on a boat, but oh well.

I felt like the fourth one was disjointed, but watching the third one again, I see where many people feel like it was this one which turned the series away from its source. Aside from all that, I still think DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE is a cool action flick. It is well shot and well constructed. There are several great moments throughout (the first drive to the subway car and the sequence in the tunnels, for example) which would shine if not held up to a series which had already become classic. It almost would have been better off being a standalone film. SCORE: 5

MOVIE

Just great fucking non-stop fun. I wish I knew what I gave the other DIE HARD movies before giving this such a high score. Am I saying that this is the most entertaining of the first three? Shit… SCORE: 8


ACTING

There is a moment where Samuel L. is trying to say something before Willis steps on the gas in a cab. The former lets out such an embarrassingly fake scream as to make it the worst acted moment in his career. Ouch. But, ultimately, they do what they do. Nothing else too terrible, but nothing too cool either. This doesn’t fully jive with the first two McClane movies, so I have to blame that (at least a little) on Willis. SCORE: 4

WRITING

Sometimes great, sometimes pedestrian. The opening scene with Bruce Willis in the SWAT truck is a perfect example of getting a lot of pertinent information to the viewer quickly. But, it’s almost too perfect. It feels forced, like we know everything said will come back later. But maybe I’ve just seen it too many times. Regardless, the bigger problem is how forced the entire plot is. If he’s gonna kill the guy, kill him. If not, then McClane’s survival is too coincidental for all the games that follow each survival moment. SCORE: 4

BONUS

The Saints Come Marching In sequence. I’ve seen this movie multiple times, and the sequence scored simply by that most famous of songs is perfect action movie filmmaking. You cannot ask for a better example of how to build suspense and drive a first act into a second act (though that switch does come admittedly late). SCORE: 1

FINAL TALLY

FILM: 5; MOVIE: 8; ACTING:4; WRITING: 4; BONUS: 1

5+8+4+4+1=22

FINAL SCORE: 5.5

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~ by johnlink00 on April 17, 2009.

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