The scene is your average bustling New York City day in the depths of summer. The heat of the day has yet to become oppressive but the level of activity is already at boiling. Out of our nightmares, the explosion rocks the street, spewing glass and smoke on passers by and reminding people of its power with the ringing in their ears.
Though this scene opens Die Hard With A Vengeance and in the atmosphere of today it might hit a little too close to home, Vengeance succeeds in remaining a fun-filled action movie that is easy to not take too seriously. It offers some interesting plot-twists and tactful racial-tension humor, while of course playing off of the Die Hard legacy. You can truly tell that John McTiernan is back on board in the director's seat for this movie. The plot and action is fast paced without a shot to spare, which is truly unique for an action movie that runs over two hours.
The movie is what most people go to the movies for these days: entertainment; and that's about all it is. It recycles much of the tricks that the original Die Hard used. The story begins with Simon, the mad bomber, demanding that John McClane perform certain stunts or else he will detonate further explosives. McClane has to be called in off of his suspension, and away from the bottle, in order to play the games that Simon has in store for him. When I tell you that the first Simon Says game is for McClane to hang out on a corner in Harlem with a sign that says 'I hate niggers' on it, you get an idea of the kind of psychopath we're dealing with here. It's here in Harlem that McClane acquires his buddy for the movie, Zeus, a local Harlem electrician with a short fuse.
Soon after this point you see just how much of a Die Hard movie Vengeance is. Simon turns out to be Hans Gruber's brother (the villain from Die Hard) and is a member of a group of German terrorists. Sound familiar? And guess what, they're going after a shitload of cash. The biggest difference between the first and the third film is the setting. McTiernan exchanges the claustrophobia of an LA highrise for the claustrophobia of an overcrowded New York. For all it lacks in originality, Vengeance comes through as an entertaining and kickass action flick.
The Similarities Between Die Hard 1 and 3
Cast & Credits
- The antagonist is basically the same: a group of well funded German terrorists.
- The motives of the terrorists in both movies aren't what they first appear to be. While it at first seems that they are motivated by politics or revenge, in both movies the terrorists end up just being thieves.*
- Both flicks are buddy movies. In fact, in both movies John's 'buddy' is a black man with little experience with the kind of action that John is used to.
- Both movies have a pyschotic and beautiful but deadly blonde character. They are extremely good fighters, are very hard to kill, and play the role of the primary antagonist's sidekick.
- For the final scene of both movies, John is left with only two bullets and a handgun. In the first one he takes out three guys, one with a machine gun, and in the second (in a scene that takes me back to countless video games) he brings down a helicopter.
Rated R, Running Time: 131 minutes
* McTiernan, in the commentary on the first Die Hard DVD, explained his reasons for creating the terrorists that weren't (I'm paraphrasing here). Terrorists, he said, always end up doing really horrible things that make the audience hate and despise them, leaving them to be turned off or only reacting negatively to the movie. Whenever I do an action movie, I make sure that I can bring some joy to it. That's why I made sure that the terrorists ended up being involved in an elaborate heist, because that's something that the audience can get behind and root for a little bit, even if it is the bad guy.