Why Die Hard 3 is better than the original Die Hard

If movies were represented as religious holy items the original 1988 Die Hard would probably be the Dead Sea Scrolls or the Shroud Of Turin. Held up in reverence by its loyal following and never questioned or doubted under any circumstances and any form of dissent immediately shouted down upon. And much like religious groups movie fans have vocal opinions on where the original Die Hard sits in movie history and that it deserves to be worshiped with relentless praise. It would only be a few years later until its Director John McTiernan would return once again after the failings of Die Hard 2 to recapture our imagination and put his stamp on the action genre once more.

Die Hard With A Vengeance is not only the perfect follow up to a franchise but it surpasses and overthrows its older cousin by updating the story and bringing new relevance to its audience and subverts your expectations, it throws away with cliché and worn out ideas and places you directly into the shoes of John McClane. By the end of the film you feel like you’ve gone through an exhausting trek of New York City with the characters mostly running on foot and rushing between areas it changes the dynamic from the claustrophobic Nakatomi Plaza to the open bustling streets of New York City. Unlike most modern sequels today Die Hard With A Vengeance actually takes risks and pushes itself to tell an enthralling story, while nowadays all sequels made by Hollywood are shot for shot retellings of the original movie it’s based on.

The film never misses a beat and goes at a remarkable pace from the very beginning in a genius and efficient manner when we see John McClane being hustled into a police truck and briefed on the situation. We soon learn that a terrorist by the name of Simon played by Jeremy Irons has planted several bombs throughout New York City and one of his demands is that John McClane must solve his riddles before the time runs out. Along the way he befriends a store owner called Zeus Carver played by Samuel L. Jackson who not only enhances the film but excels in it with a wonderful performance and delivery with such quotable lines as:

“I’m not jumping through hoops for some psycho! That’s a white man, with white problems. You deal with him. Call me when he crosses 110th Street.”
- Zeus Carver
Promotional Poster.

We actually get to see John McClane’s police department.

Unlike the previous films the idea of John McClane being a police officer was just a simple plot device to excuse him from going on a rampage and blasting thousands of henchmen with impunity. But in this we actually see the chief of Police and the other detectives work in dealing with a terrible situation. It naturally branches off into a bigger story as we see other cops trying to rescue and evacuate people and shows how the consequences not only affect John McClane but the people around him and raises the stakes.

Jeremy Irons Kicks Ass.

One of the movie’s biggest strengths is its cast, in a stroke of extremely good fortune Jeremy Irons delivers a fantastic performance that manages to live up to the legacy of Alan Rickman but brings a level of true menace to the role. His character is not a typical Bond villain in-fact his casual nihilism and aloofness makes him more threatening with how he tosses people aside and moves swiftly towards his end game, much like how a real psychotic person would behave. And what’s great is that he almost gets away with his goals, and nearly slips away.

“Holy Toledo”

The Action Is Ceaseless.

We are immediately submerged into a world of danger and the film combines the best moments from other films like the chase scene from “The French Connection”. The film is almost like an encyclopedia or manual on action films as it covers every scenario imaginable from bridge jumping to bank heists and was ahead of its time before other blockbusters like the Fast And The Furious series that capitalized on absurdist action.

The Editing Is Impeccable.

Whenever you’re making an action film one of the most important aspects is keeping the audience interested in your film, and knowing when the right moment is to make an edit. Editor John Wright does an outstanding job making the film flow and go on a natural journey that logically makes sense and not only achieves its goals but creates a frantic and unpredictable sense of urgency. We as the audience feel like we’re learning the same discoveries with John McClane throughout the picture and it exceeds our expectations of where the story is going in terms of plot twists and surprises.

Few Directors are allowed to come back and work on a franchise that they created but John McTiernan manages to not only extend a universe but make something new and enticing at the same time, which very few people accomplish. For whatever reason people are quick to dismiss this movie, probably due to the declining quality of sequels and that odd numbered movies are trashed before even being viewed. Its home is usually on syndicated TV, which says something about how it managed to outlive most of its competition at the time and lends itself to longform viewing with commercial breaks included. If you haven’t seen the film it is well worth watching and deserves a re-appraisal.

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