Justin Peterson’s review published on Letterboxd:
John McClane is back and on his home turf this time ... but he is about to have a very long hot day and find out first hand that vengeance is a bitch!
"Hot town, summer in the city .... Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty ... In the summer, in the city ... In the summer, in the city ... BOOM!"
Die Hard 3 was the first movie I saw in this franchise, and for me the first half is a masterpiece in action filmmaking. While it definitely starts to unravel towards the end it is still an absolute blast, plus it features two scenes in my home town.
"I want to play a game ... What kind of game? ... 'Simon Says'. Simon's going to tell Lt. McClane what to do, and Lt. McClane is going to do it. Noncompliance will result in a penalty ... What penalty? ... Another big bang in a very public place."
- That Summer in the city song is an awesome way to kick things off in New York, and gets right to business by showing off the explosive stakes
- Once we see John McClane he does not look like a triumphant hero, instead he looks like shit as he complains about a hangover. He might just be the only action star that makes talking about being an alcoholic sound cool
"His own wife wants nothing to do with him, and he's about two steps shy of becoming a full-blown alcoholic ... One step, *one* step."
- His first task is to walk down the street in Harlem wearing a sign with the N-word. And while this is not pleasant, it ends up being how we get introduced to McClane's partner this time named Zeus, who is played by the always awesome Samuel L. Jackson. Their chemistry is fantastic, and feels so much more on edge with the racial tension that is placed front and center
- Zeus' motivation for stepping in to help was nicely woven in as he aims to keep violence and more cops out of his neighborhood
"You are about to have a very bad day ... tell me about it."
- Exposition does not get much better than when Kevin Chamberlin explains the deal with these fluid bombs in his own quirky way
- Jeremy Irons totally makes this premise work with his incredible voice that we hear tying McClane's head in knots. With Zeus being there to help him figure out these high stakes riddles he throws at them. Can you imagine remembering both a riddle and a phone number without being prepared to do so
- I love that shot of the phone swinging as we hear Irons laugh, after he fakes them out
- McClane takes Zeus on a crazy taxi ride through the city and across the park to try and stop the next bomb, and it is awesome how this appears to have been shot in New York
"Not even God knows what you are doing McClane!"
- Before you know it McClane is jumping on a moving subway train looking for the bomb, while Zeus goes to take Simon's call. The conversation that goes on between that trigger happy cop and Sam Jackson sounds just like a similar scene that he had in 'The Incredibles'.
"I just have to answer that phone."
- With the FBI agents on the scene after the Subway explosion that was going to happen no matter what, we are quickly brought up to speed that Simon is Hans Gruber's brother from the first movie, and he is out for vengeance against McClane for killing his brother
- Simon's plan to get all the cops in the city looking for a school bomb in order to get them away from the subway explosion is brilliant, since what they are really after is all the gold in the neighboring reserve bank
- Simon's men and that badass chick execute this plan to perfection, along with this amazing percussion-driven score which includes the tune 'When Johnny Comes Marching Home'
- Her using that curved knife to slice up that guy going nuts with the shotgun is great
- It is so clever how little clues in the beginning about cops playing the lottery with their badge numbers comes back, when McClane realizes he is in an elevator with a bunch of bad guys dressed as cops. Not like the one cop saying the phrase 'raining like cats and dogs' wrong was not a big enough tip-off
- I have always been a fan of trivia and scavenger hunts, and its fun when McClane runs into that truck driver who helps him figure out what Simon is up to
"And tell him to find out who the 21st president was ... Chester A. Arthur."
- To think if McClane would have gone to Yankee Stadium he would have ended up with a bullet from a sniper in his head
- That's one hell of a water ride McClane goes on when Simon blasts the aqueduct tunnels he is chasing him through. There is a quick shot of an overpass when McClane blasts out of the tunnel, and that was shot right off I-26 near Charleston South Carolina where I live
- This is where the movies starts getting really messy as Zeus somehow knows exactly where McClane is, and they end up in a car gun battle in the rain on what appears to be a road in the mountains
- Then in the next scene, they appear on a bridge and plan to use a winch to get down to a cargo ship. This bridge happens to be the old Cooper River Bridge in Charleston SC, which a few years later was replaced with a much nicer suspension bridge
- I am pretty sure they would be dead after falling that far onto a ship ... but they don't call it Die Hard for nothing
- The wandering around the ship was not as satisfying as I had remembered, and he barely fights the big dude that Simon betrays to help enforce the plot point that the gold has been moved off the trucks already
"Yesterday we were an army with no country, tomorrow we must decide which country we want to buy!"
- Turns out Simon is not a total monster, and the actual huge bomb is not in a school but on the ship. That is a hell of an explosion they escape from by jumping off the cargo ship at the last second
- The biggest complaint about this movie is the ending where McClane tracks them down to a warehouse in Canada using the aspirin bottle Simon gave him. Simon is such a bond villain with how he has so many chances to easily kill McClane, but for some reason never pulls the trigger. His hesitation in the helicopter gives McClane the chance to shoot an electrical line and take him out
- One of these days I need to check out the alternate ending, where McClane turns the mind games back on Simon
Besides that messiness at the end, Die Hard: With a Vengeance is damn near a perfect thrill ride of an action movie. It's crazy to think I watched a movie with this much profanity as a kid, but I guess it was mostly the action that I absorbed, which made me fall in love with action movies and eventually check out the first one that people told me was far superior. They were right that Die Hard 1 is better, but this one is not far behind IMO.
Thanks for reading.
Happy movie watching ... Skål!