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Saturday, 21 July 2007

Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995) John McTiernan

As the Guys Nite Out song goes, there's no Alan and it ain't Christmas, but it's a Die Hard movie with Bruce Willis and there's much to suggests that it's the real sequel to the first one. Director John McTiernan is back in the saddle, for a start, John McClane is back in New York and the plot is revenge for film one. This time round the bad guy is Simon Gruber, brother of Hans Gruber, and who better to play Alan Rickman's brother than Jeremy Irons? He has a sense of humour too, starting off by blowing up a department store and promising to do the same again if Detective John McClane isn't dumped in the middle of Harlem in his underwear and a sandwich board reading 'I Hate Niggers'.

He just about manages to survive, with the aid of Samuel L Jackson, as the thoroughly decent, thoroughly black and thoroughly angry shop owner Zeus Carver, one of the most memorable roles he's ever played. Gruber proceeds to send the pair of them all over New York in a game of Simon Says through the public phone syste. The results are as tense as they are hilarious. There are explosions and carchases and stunts, but they don't seem overdone in the slightest. If anything this isn't anywhere near as action packed as you'd expect but it's still very tense.

Meanwhile Samuel L Jackson and Bruce Willis play very well off each other indeed and to be honest that's the most enjoyable component of the whole film. John McClane is rough and ready but he's an equal opportunity kind of rough and ready: he'll sass anyone, regardless of sex, colour or creed. Meanwhile Zeus Carver is a black racist. He's a good guy, for sure, and thoroughly decent deep down, but he's so bitter about Whitey that he can't help but jump to conclusions and believe that everything is about race. It's a very honest character, played by a respected black actor and all this put together is both surprising and admirable.

There are other actors who make their presence known too, especially Jeremy Irons who is a perfect successor to Alan Rickman. He does the same things just as well: the snide yet intelligent banter, the supreme calm under pressure and the same complete lack of morals. His accent isn't always as good as it could be but his demeanour is simply perfect. Native American (as in Canadian) Graham Greene is an excellent cop, Kevin Chamberlin is an even better bomb disposal expert in his debut movie and possibly most noticeable of all, award winning gospel singer Sam Phillips plays a silent but very striking terrorist.

It's a lot better than part two and more fun but not as groundbreaking as part one. The biggest flaw for me was use the use of When Johnny Comes Marching Home on the soundtrack, and to my mind after Dr Strangelove that tune should just have been marked off as done and never used in film again. However if that's the worst thing I can say about a movie, it can't have been that bad...

1 comment:

buy mini sd card said...

Live Free or Die Hard is indeed a worthy successor to the original -- not perhaps quite as good, but close.