How do you beat that movie in terms of action and sheer gripping suspense?
I'll tell ya.
With a vengeance, that's how.
Don't get me wrong, I love Die Hard and it is a classic but when it comes down to it, it's pretty claustrophobic taking place mostly in that skyscraper and all. For me, Die Hard: With A Vengeance is just that little bit more glorious in that the entire city is at stake this time, you've got a villain which would give even the likes of Batman chest pains and it all takes off instantly. You thought Die Hard 2 lacked a certain je-ne-sais-quoi? Well here it is. That's another point: With A Vengeance continues the franchise without feeling like a retread, which Die Hard 2 was a bit, to a certain extent.
This time around, John McClane's not exactly at the top of his game. He's been suspended from the police force, his marriage has gone down the drain once again and he's got a bad hangover. So when a new villain only known as "Simon" shows up and threatens to set-off a bomb in the city unless he gets to Harlem asap wearing a racist sign around his neck... it's not looking good for our favorite wise-crackin', vest-wearin' NYPD cop. Thankfully, Harlem resident Zeus Carver (a brilliant Samuel L. Jackson) saves his ass just in time and aborts what could have turned really ugly, really fast. But that also means that he is now stuck being McClane's sidekick and has to go around doing whatever Simon tells them to do until they can figure out what the mysterious terrorist's game is and find a way to stop him.
This is one relentless action flick which puts its characters in some pretty nasty, difficult, stressful situations to say the least. Simon, played by a fantastic Jeremy Irons, could give The Riddler and The Joker a run for their money. Essentially, he's a mix of both! He's got the riddles, he's got the explosives but on top of that he's kind of a nazi so... yeah, he is one multi-"talented" villain, let's put it that way. He gives McClane and Zeus time limits, trick questions, threatens to bomb schools and whatnot: it's no pic-nic. Which makes the whole thing a tense, epic race-against-time from start to finish. John McTiernan is back on directing duties and he is really giving it his all taking everything that made the first film great and piling on the awesome.
I know I'm praising this sequel like hell but it is almost always overshadowed by Die Hard and I really think it deserves more recognition. For me personally, it remains to this day the superior Die Hard film and, by extension, one of the best action flicks out there. It's crazy-entertaining, funny as hell, smart, nail-biting, it's just altogether great. Admittedly it loses pace a little bit in the last 10 minutes and ends rather abruptly but after such a terrific ride, that's a nitpick at best.
Overall, Die Hard: With A Vengeance is an underrated action masterpiece and still one of my favorites.
Simon says: watch the damn movie.