“I threw his little brother off the thirty-second floor of Nakatomi Towers out in L.A. I guess he’s a little pissed off about it.”

NYPD cop John McClane finally works a case in New York City, when he tries to stop a terrorist group from stealing all the gold from the Federal Reserve Building. In addition to their plot to steal all the gold, the terrorist leader, Simon Gruber, is targeting McClane for revenge because McClane killed Simon’s brother in the first DIE HARD.

Die Hard With A Vengeance (1995)
Directed by John McTiernan
Written by Jonathan Hensleigh

We all know that they original Die Hard is one of the greatest Christmas movies ever made. This, though, is one of the greatest third movie in a series of all time. That’s not really a high bar to pass, though. Godfather 3. Superman 3. Batman & Robin. Dark Knight Rises. All mediocre or worse. I love this movie, though, and depending on my mood, I may even say I enjoy it better than the original.

Bruce Willis is back as John McClane, and he’s not doing so hot. His wife, Holly, is still across the country and he’s not dealing with his life very well. So when he’s picked up at his apartment after a terrorist calls him out, it sets off a very long, very bad day where he’s traversing New York City disarming bombs. And all he wants is something to dull the hangover headache.

He’s not doing it alone, though. He’s got Samuel L. Jackson as his sidekick, Zeus (“Yeah, Zeus! As in, father of Apollo? Mt. Olympus? Don’t fuck with me or I’ll shove a lightning bolt up your ass? Zeus! You got a problem with that?”), who saved him from Simon’s first task – going up to Harlem in his underwear and a sandwich board that says he hates black people.

Adding Sam Jackson, one of the greatest movie bas-asses of the 1990s, was a great move to keep the franchise going. After Die Hard 2 disappointed movie audiences by essentially being a rehash of the first movie, but with airplanes, a shake-up was definitely needed. The original script, by Jonathan Hensleigh, was originally considered to be crafted into a Lethal Weapon sequel, but 20th Century Fox wouldn’t sell the script to producer Joel Silver. And thank God for that. While I love Riggs and Murtaugh, the premise would be weird changing the setting to California.

Jeremy Irons takes on the role of main villain Simon Gruber, and he is delightfully evil throughout the film, threatening to blow up subway stations, city parks and even a school, all to mess with McClane while he works at his own over-the-top plot. And he would have gotten away with it, too, but he underestimated just how good a cop McClane is. He clearly didn’t watch the first movie.

Right from the start of the movie, punctuated by The Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Summer In The City” to “When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again” over the end credits, the movie is one explosion after another, hitting the perfect mark for a Die Hard movie and succeeding in entertaining in a way that Die Hard 2 completely misses.