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Die Hard With A Vengeance
review by Zach B.
Running Time: 124 minutes
Starring Bruce Willis, Jeremy Irons, Samuel L.
Written by Jonathan Hensleigh
Directed by John McTiernan
Retail Price: $29.98
Disc One - Audio Commentary with Director John McTiernan,
Writer Jonathon Hensleigh and former Fox President of
Distribution and Marketing Tom Sherak, THX Optimode
Disc Two - Featurette And Television Specials,
Alternate Ending with Optional Commentary, Behind The Scenes
And Storyboards, Interview With Bruce Willis, Villian's
Profile, Visual Effect Breakdowns, Theatrical Trailers, TV
Specs: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby
Digital 5.1, English DTS 5.1, English Dolby Surround, French
Dolby Surround, English Closed Captioning, English
Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Scene Selection (26 Chapters),
Two-Disc Set, THX Certified
Released: July 10th, 2001
Also part of the "Die Hard - The Ultimate Collection"
Ah, franchises. Where would we be without them? Take a
successful movie, then a sequel that lives up or doesn't
live up to it and then create future installments with
everyone's favorite characters to piss off the critics and
rack in the dough. Thankfully, "Die Hard With A Vengeance"
didn't just rack in the dough but scored nicely with the
critics too. And there's only one returning character, but
mentions of some old favorites. It's quite a fun movie that
really entertains and puts the "Die Hard" saga in a
The third installment takes place a few years after "Die
Hard 2" where McClane is back in New York. It's not
Christmas Eve again, but like always, John McClane (Bruce
Willis) is having a bad day (and a terrible hangover) and
not immediatley prepared to deal with the bad. Once again,
McClane is having problems with the wife and even with his
job, as he has been suspended from the police force.
However, a mysterious man named Simon (who has a connection
with an old favorite Die Hard character and played
fantasticly by Jeremy Irons) wants to play a few games with
John McClane or else he threatens to comit a horrible act.
McClane is soon forced to wear a racist sign in the middle
of Harlem, where he's befriended by the racist Zeus (Samuel
L. Jackson who's good as always). It's up the two to stop
Simon from stealing billions of dollars worth of gold while
the two faces plenty of challanges along the way in a really
limited amount of time courtesy of Simon.
It seems with each "Die Hard" film they just add more and
more on to what the previous brought, and that's truly an
excellent thing. It's rare for a film series to do that, and
I'm quite glad that the "Die Hard" films manage that. The
first "Die Hard" had a time factor, but there wasn't a
specific amount. "Die Hard 2" brought a shorter amount of
time within the whole idea of the planes and now "Die Hard
With A Vengeance" makes the time limit a hell lot shorter.
It also features a lot more then a single event, as these
events keep leading to another in some really small time.
Also, each movie keeps adding more and more action.
McTiernan offers some truly excellent direction, even
reuniting a good amount of people from the original "Die
Hard" team. McTiernan keeps the action and pace snappy, and
really packs on some fantastic sequences and plenty of
thrills. Like all the other "Die Hard" films, the editing is
truly excellent so you won't be missing anything. This film
also features some great sounds and stunt sequences to
really put you on the edge of your seat.
The acting here is top notch. Willis as McClane does
justice to the role and what the character is going through,
not to mention his great chemistry with Samuel L. Jackson.
While this movie isn't based on a book like the previous
two "Die Hard" films, it manages to create quite an
atmosphere and story. While Steven E. de Souza didn't return
to co-write the script and help shape it, Johnathon
Hensleigh does one fine job. He originally wrote the script
as a movie called "Simon Says", but it was adjusted and he
was "thrilled" when he learned it would become the next "Die
Hard" movie. While the first two movies were confined to a
single area basically, here Hensleigh takes us all over New
York. It's truly a breath of fresh air and gives more
expansions. It's truly a change of pace and fits McClane
If there are any complaints I have with "Die Hard With A
Vengeance" it's that it does feel out of place with the
other two films. Don't get me wrong, I love it and I just
mentioned the originality and what it brings, but this was
supposed to be something else. I was disappointed to see
McClane the only one returning despite the mentions of other
characters, it just feels a little weird. Also, some may
argue that Simon's challanges are incredibly far-fetched and
it's amazing how he coordinates everything. This is true,
but it's really damn entertaining. If you were a fan of the
first two "Die Hard" movies, you're sure to love this entry.
If you weren't, this won't change your mind. Still, it
brings some interesting new things to a tired-and-true
"Die Hard With A Vengeance" may rank as Fox's sharpest
transfer ever, or at least the sharpest I've seen of theirs.
It's certainly one of their best ever, and that's saying a
lot. The THX certified transfer is presented in the film's
original theatrical exhibition, that being 2.35:1. This
transfer is anamorphic and the result is splendid. Blacks
are deep and solid, not to mention the bold and
well-saturated colors. Detail is fantastic and the intense
visuals of the film truly come to life with this transfer. I
barely noticed any grain, if any. Still, it's sadly not
perfect. Blemishes and scratches pop up now and then, as
well as some noise. There's also some slight edge
enhancment. Other then those annoyances, it's a real winner.
Sweet mother of crap! "Die Hard With A Vengeance"
features reference quality audio that is sure to blow your
speakers out right from the start. Since I guess sound
systems became more developed by 1995, more powerful mixes
could be created. Fidelity is a lot higher on all the tracks
as the sounds are incredibly rich. The film features DTS 5.1
and Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks in English, as well as English
and French Dolby Surround tracks. The DTS 5.1 track has the
slightest edge, but the Dolby Digital 5.1 is still really
impressive. Surrounds flood your speaks and enevelope
nicely, not to mention the kick ass .1 LFE extension. The
opening explosion, the great score which builds tension and
all the action sequences (especially the taxi cab ride)
bring so much life to the film. Dialogue is clear and easy
to hear and all the great sounds are at balance so nothing
overpowers anything else. Enjoy them! English closed
captions, English subtitles and Spanish subtitles are
"Die Hard With a Vengeance" is a packed two-disc special
edition that will please anyone. While not as many features
at the first "Die Hard", it has enough stuff that makes it
quite a worthwhile value.
The first disc has THX Optimode, the usual Fox DVD Video
Promo spot at the start and a Audio Commentary with
Director John McTiernan, Writer Jonathan Hensleigh and
former Fox President of Distribution and Marketing Tom
Sherak. This track is obviously edited, but it flows
incredibly well that you may not think so. Hensleigh talks
about how his script "Simon Says" became the movie "Die Hard
With A Vengeance" in addition to his thoughts on the film.
McTiernan tells us that he's the type of filmmaker who
doesn't like to re-watch his work until several years have
gone by. He thinks he didn't do such a good job on the film
but admits to us he's surprised how good it actually came
out to him. Sherak's comments are limited, but stiill
interesting. A very good and informative track, though it
can be a bit dry.
The second disc is where the real bonus materials start
to kick in. The Featurette And Television Specials
section has three things to watch. The Behind The
Scenes: Die Hard With A Vengeance is another HBO
First-Look sort of deals that's in full frame and lasts
nearly twenty-two minutes. Reginald VelJohnson (yay!) who
was in the first two "Die Hard" films hosts this making-of
featurette. There's some fun sketch material (and "Family
Matters" is off the air now) in addition to film clips,
behind-the-scenes footage and a slew of interviews with
McTiernanan, Irons, Andrew Vajna (executive producer),
Samuel L. Jackson, Graham Greene, Larry Byrggman and Bruce
Willis himself among others. It's fun to watch but in the
end it's pretty promo. The four minute Feautrette is
a really trimmed down version of this used for the EPK while
A Night To Die For/McClane Is Back is another
twenty-two minute featurette that was originally broadcasted
on CBS for some reason. Samuel L. Jackson hosts it and
features clips from the film and more fluff interviews. Yet
the real meat and fun here is the look back at the first two
Die Hard films with clips from those films, interviews about
them and where celebrities chat about some stuff that deal
with the films. A nicely put together featurette.
The Alternate Ending has optional commentary with
Jonathan Hensleigh. It's in rough non-anamorphic widescreen
and while I liked the ending, it does feel a bit out of
place. Hensleigh takes us through the scene, how he's glad
how it actually turned out and does explain why it was cut.
I heard stuff about the executives not liking it, but
Hensleigh thankfully expands on that and disagrees with the
ultimate desicion. Don't miss it. It lasts six minutes.
Behind The Scenes And Storyboards section features
some featurettes and storyboards. Three featurettes are
shown: "Terror In The Subway" (nine minutes), "Prepping The
Park" (ten minutes) and "Blowing Up Bonwit" (eight minutes).
Each features interviews, behind-the-scenes footage and
clips from the films on how those sequences are
accomplished. Each go into some really nice depth on how
they were accomplished. Meanwhile, the "Storyboards" part
goes back and forth between the underground final film and
the storyboards for the sequence.
Interview And Profile is divided up into two
sections: a Interview With Bruce Willis features
clips from the movie, behind the scenes footage and a on the
set interviews with Willis, McTiernan and some others. It's
basically rehash from the other featurettes. The
Villian's Profile is four minutes and has film clips,
a load of more fluff interviews and behind the scenes
footage about the character Simon in the movie.
The Visual Effects section breaks down seven
visual effects sequences (!) with film clips and green scene
work usually. Some are short but they are each still worth a
watch. You get "The Great Jump", "Shimmying Down Cable",
"Jackson Plummets", "Grabbing Onto Crane", "Fall In Front Of
Tax", "Water Gushing Through Tunnel" and "Willis Shot Out Of
Finally, you have two anamorphic widescreen Theatrical
Trailers and ten TV Spots to enjoy.
"Die Hard With A Vengeance" is a thrilling and highly
entertaining movie right from the start and concludes the
McClane trilogy in quite an interesting way. This movie has
the best presentation of all the "Die Hard" re-releases,
perhaps because it's the most recent one. Top that off with
some great extras, and you got one incredible DVD release.
Highly reccomended for sure!
(4.5/5 - NOT included in
(4.5/5, NOT an average)