(Note: After watching this movie, and thinking a lot about its predecessor, I’ve decided I scored Die Hard 2 a little low, and have since gone back and edited my review to reflect my modified opinion on it.)
It seems odd that the Die Hard sequels are all so different, yet so similar, compared to the original. The second movie used the same basic plot, but slowed the pace down a bit, and now the third film in the series feels like a combination of a buddy-cop film and a true Die Hard sequel.
And you know what, I kind of dig it.
I can easily understand why Die Hard with a Vengeance is divisive amongst Die Hard fans. Like I said, the first half of the movie feels very much like a classic buddy-cop movie, with Samuel L. Jackson acting as McClane’s new, reluctant partner.
The story also seems a little out of place, with McClane and Jackson’s character Zeus Carter running around New York acting as an eccentric terrorist’s-who has a personal vendetta against McClane of course-personal playthings.
While the first half of the movie, which follows the above formula to a tee, is exciting, it doesn’t feel very much like a Die Hard film.
McClane will never stop being awesome, and Carter was an entertaining addition to McClane’s traditional lone man act, but it just felt, I don’t know, off.
However, around the halfway point, everything changes. The ‘wild-goose chase’ plot is completely dropped, and the real motive behind the crazy terrorist is revealed. And even though this switch is abrupt, it was a welcome change that not only amped up the action, but also made the movie feel much more like a Die Hard sequel.
I enjoyed Jackson and Willis’ chemistry, and the two played off each other really well. It was weird having McClane have a protege at first, bit Carter grew on me pretty quick, and honestly improved the movie more than he detracted from it.
Another thing I appreciated was the increased tension and pace at which the story progressed. My biggest complaint with Die Had 2 was that it was to slow; and while Die Hard with a Vengeance is still slower than the original, the tension is high all the way through and the action scenes come more often and more violent.
Outside of the weird first half and an abrupt change of pace, I really enjoyed this movie. The humor was there, the violence was fast and brutal (as it should in a Die Hard film), and McClane’s new best friend was both entertaining and even complimented to McClane himself.
And besides, you can’t beat Samuel L. Jackson; the guy’s just to great.
With that said, I still found the villain of the piece to leave something to be desired. Although Simon Peter-Gruber is a better, more rounded antagonist than Stuart from Die Hard 2, he wasn’t as menacing as his brother and lacked that he’s-so-evil-but-I-love-him factor.
I liked how his character tied into the first film, but I don’t feel like there was enough there to make it seem like Simon really wanted to kill McClane.
Jeremy Irons plays him well, and at times his performance is really great. I just think he could’ve been a little more well-rounded. But that’s just my opinion, and I tend to be picky with my villains.
It took some time to get its footing, but Die Hard with a Vengeance surprised me in the end. Yes, the first half is a bit odd and took some time to get moving, but overall, I never found myself getting bored and enjoyed every minute of the movie.
I want to give Die Hard with a Vengeance an 8, because in a way, I liked it a little more than Die Hard 2, but I don’t think it quite gets there. Maybe if the climax’s climax was a littler stronger and not so rushed it’d score an 8, but I think 7.5 is still a good score.