Directed by John McTiernan Starring Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Irons
"Die Hard With A Vengeance"

Opened: May 1995 | Rated: R

"Die Hard With A Vengeance" is the ideal next step in action movies. Bigger explosions, incredible stunts and really bad bad guys.

As with all actions movies, there is a requirement that you leave your questions about how the hero can fall 100 feet onto the deck of a ship and not be seriously injured. That is in great evidence in this third instalment in the saga of Lt. John Maclaine (Bruce Willis).

But "With A Vengeance" ask more than your suspension of disbelief. It assumes your a gibbering idiot.

I have no qualms with the action. There are the standard nagging problems movie-goers have to forgive. But director John McTiernan asks far, far too much: He asks you forgive what could be the most absurd, stupidest plot device in the history of film.

The entire plot of the movie depends on the audience believing that every police car, fire truck and ambulance would leave the scene of a major terrorist attack in downtown New York five minutes after the explosion.

Literally every police officer for 20 blocks -- they say that right in the script, 20 blocks -- leaves within five minutes of the explosion of a bomb in a Wall Street subway station.

Along with 3 or 4 other huge discrepancies in the plot, like the fact that all the citizens also conveniently leave the area so the bad guys can drive a fleet of monster dump trucks and demolition equipment up to the Federal Reserve Building without being bothered, this makes for one of the stupidest plots ever put to celluloid.

Other than that, its a great action flick. Do you see it? It all boils down to how much it bothers you that 20th Century Fox thinks "Die Hard" fans are stupid enough to accept any ludicrous idea, as long as Bruce Willis does his thing.

The story follows Maclaine as he tries to solve riddles left with bombs around New York by the brother of the bad guy in the first "Die Hard."

He is helped along by Harlem shopkeeper Samuel L. Jackson, who rescues Maclaine when he has to obey the baddie (Jeremy Irons) by going into Harlem wearing a placard with a racial slur written on it.

The stunts -- surfing a dump truck down an aqueduct, firing a gun while doing a 360 in a Mercedes, jumping from a bridge onto a freight ship in the water below, jumping off the ship when it explodes and a helicopter crash -- are top notch.

The characters are interesting enough for you to root for or a against them. Maclaine's smart remarks are as funny as ever.

But when it comes right down to it, this movie is a test. Hollywood wants to know if action movies have to make any sense at all, or if they can just do away with decent plots all together and just stick to explosions.

If this outing scores big, thinking-person's action movies like the original "Die Hard" are probably doomed.

It's a pity, too, because it's movies like the original "Die Hard" that make the genre legitimate.

©1995 All Rights Reserved.

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