Saturday, 23 October 2010

Die Hard With a Vengeance (John McTiernan, 1995)

Perhaps realising the terminal limitations of the "Die Hard in a ___" formula, brought all the closer to parody by Seagal et al, the third film in the series dispenses with the claustrophobic, cat and mouse of the first films and instead splashes its violent, acerbic paint over a much wider canvas.

Adapted from a script called SIMON SAYS, at one point a Brandon Lee vehicle then later considered as the next LETHAL WEAPON, the film sees John McClane team up with Samuel L Jackson, again playing himself, as a zany mismatched couple attempting to foil the efforts of a grudge-bearing sadistic Euro-terrorist, wrought laughably camp by the constantly vest-clad Jeremy Irons.

A satisfying balance and zinging dialogue between the two leads, plus plenty of clever action and moments of shocking violence keep the interest initially high, although the film fails to sustain it throughout, especially once the villain's plan is revealed as almost an exact retread of the first film's. Like so many action films it also loses focus an hour and a half or so in, failing to keep ahold of the myriad plot threads it has woven, and the seemingly ad-libbed, tacked-on climax is deeply unsatisfying.

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