Die Hard with a Vengeance

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Die Hard with a Vengeance
Die Hard With A Vengance.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by John McTiernan
Produced by John McTiernan
Michael Tadross
Written by Jonathan Hensleigh
Based on Simon Says 
by Jonathan Hensleigh
Starring Bruce Willis
Jeremy Irons
Samuel L. Jackson
Graham Greene
Colleen Camp
Larry Bryggman
Sam Phillips
Kevin Chamberlin
Music by Michael Kamen
Cinematography Peter Menzies Jr.
Edited by John Wright
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
(United States)
Buena Vista International
(United Kingdom)
Release dates
  • May 19, 1995 (1995-05-19) (US)
  • May 25, 1995 (1995-05-25) (AUS)
  • August 18, 1995 (1995-08-18) (UK & IRL)
Running time
131 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $90 million[1]
Box office $366,101,666[1]

Die Hard with a Vengeance is a 1995 American action film and the third in the Die Hard film series. It was produced and directed by John McTiernan (who directed Die Hard), written by Jonathan Hensleigh, and stars Bruce Willis as New York City Police Department Lieutenant John McClane, Samuel L. Jackson as McClane's reluctant partner Zeus Carver, and Jeremy Irons as Simon Peter Gruber. It was released on May 19, 1995, five years after Die Hard 2, and was followed by Live Free or Die Hard and A Good Day to Die Hard in 2007 and 2013, respectively.


In New York City, a bomb detonates destroying the Bonwit Teller department store. A man calling himself "Simon" phones Major Case Unit Inspector Walter Cobb of the New York City Police Department, claiming responsibility for the bomb. He demands that suspended police officer Lt. John McClane be dropped in Harlem wearing a sandwich board that says "I hate niggers". Harlem shop owner Zeus Carver spots McClane and tries to get him off the street before he is killed, but a group of offended black men attack the pair, who barely escape. Returning to the station, they learn that Simon is believed to have stolen several thousand gallons of an explosive compound. Simon calls again demanding McClane and Carver put themselves through a series of "games" to prevent more explosions.

McClane and Carver are instructed by Simon to travel to Wall Street station 90 blocks south, within 30 minutes to stop a bomb planted on a Brooklyn-bound 3 train. McClane succeeds in locating and throwing the bomb off the train but it detonates, causing the rear car of the train to derail, demolishing many of the station's support columns. FBI agents inform McClane that Simon is actually Peter Krieg, a former Colonel in the East German People's Army and commander of an elite unit of soldiers trained to impersonate Americans in the event of World War III. Since the fall of communism, Colonel Krieg and his men have launched a career of "freelance terrorism for hire."

When McClane asks what this has to do with him, he is informed that Colonel Peter Krieg was born Simon Peter Gruber. He is the older brother of Hans Gruber, whom McClane killed in Nakatomi Towers 7 years before. His vendetta against McClane is thus a matter of vengeance for Hans.

During the debriefing, Simon calls again claiming that another bomb is planted in one of the city schools, and is sensitive to police radio signals. As McClane and Carver are forced to complete more riddles to identify the school, the police organize a citywide search of schools, and shut down the police radio band.

After overhearing a chance remark by a passerby on the road, McClane realizes that he and Carver, as well as the rest of the NYPD, are being distracted to keep them away from Wall Street; Simon is planning a heist there and the bombs are deliberately placed far away to keep the police busy at the other parts of the town, and the false radio-sensitive information was placed to prevent any other officers to report. Returning downtown to Wall Street, he finds Simon's men − disguised as cops, businessmen, construction workers, and guards − have raided the Federal Reserve Bank of New York via the damaged subway station and made off with $140 billion of gold bullion in 14 stolen dump trucks.

After killing Simon's henchmen at the bank, McClane trails the dump trucks to an aqueduct in the New York City Water Tunnel No. 3 and captures one of the trucks. Simon destroys a cofferdam, flooding the tunnel; McClane is thrown clear through a vertical air shaft, and he regroups with Carver. They continue to follow the dump trucks to a tanker, but are captured attempting to board. The police locate and attempt to evacuate the school they think the bomb is in. As the timer reaches zero, the police discover that the bomb is filled with pancake syrup.

Meanwhile, Simon has captured McClane and Carver. He explains that, despite sometimes working for monsters, he is not one himself. The only real bomb was aboard the ship. As an act of revolutionary terror, Simon intends to "level the playing field" by "redistributing" the West's gold reserves across the bottom of Long Island Sound. After tying them to the bomb, Simon explains that, although he did not like his brother, that is not the same as not caring, "when some dumb Irish flatfoot drops him out of a building." Before he leaves the tanker, Simon tosses McClane a bottle of aspirin for the killer hangover he has been nursing all day.

After escaping the ship just ahead of the explosion, McClane laments to Carver that Simon has stolen the gold and gotten away with it. While phoning to make amends with his estranged wife, McClane realizes the aspirin bottle gives an address in Quebec.

In a Canadian warehouse hours later, Simon boasts to his men that, due to the stupidity of the NYPD, they have gone from an army with no country to an army that can buy any country they wish. To his outrage, McClane and Carver then arrive in a helicopter as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police raids the warehouse. Snarling that he has "something personal to finish," Simon boards another helicopter piloted by his mistress and attempts to finish McClane and Carver with a machine gun. Despite being shot down, McClane waits for Simon to come closer and snaps, "Say hello to your brother!" He shoots a power line which hits the helicopter blades, sets off a major explosion, and burns Simon alive.

Carver tosses McClane a quarter and convinces him to finish his call to Holly from a nearby pay phone.


Alternate endings[edit]

An alternate ending to the one shown in the final movie was filmed with Jeremy Irons and Bruce Willis, set some time after the events in New York. It can be found on the special edition DVD. In this version it is presumed that the robbery succeeds, and that McClane was used as the scapegoat for everything that went wrong. He is fired from the NYPD after more than 20 years on the force and the FBI has even taken away his pension. Nevertheless he still manages to track Simon using the batch number on the bottle of aspirins and they meet in a cafe in Hungary.

In this version, Simon has double-crossed most of his accomplices, gotten the loot to a safe hiding place somewhere in Europe, and has the gold turned into statuettes of the Empire State Building in order to smuggle it out of the country; but he is still tracked down to his foreign hideaway (this version is very similar to Alec Guinness's situation in the British heist film The Lavender Hill Mob made some 45 years earlier in which the stolen gold was turned into Eiffel Tower paperweights).

McClane is keen to take his problems out on Simon whom he invites to play a game called "McClane Says". This involves a form of Russian roulette with a small Chinese rocket launcher that has had the sights removed, meaning it is impossible to determine which end is which. McClane then asks Simon some riddles similar to the ones he played in New York. When Simon gets a riddle wrong, McClane forces him at gunpoint to fire the launcher, which fires the rocket through Simon, killing him. McClane had been wearing a flak jacket (which was the answer to the final riddle: "What could he have brought to the meeting to save his life?"), so even if Simon had pointed the launcher the right way, it is likely that the relatively low-velocity rocket would not have caused McClane enough injury to prevent him from shooting Simon.

In the DVD audio commentary, screenwriter Jonathan Hensleigh claims that this version was dropped because the studio thought it showed a more cruel and menacing side to McClane, a man who killed for revenge rather than in self-defense. Hensleigh's intention was to show that the events in New York and the subsequent repercussions had tilted him psychologically. This alternative ending, set some time after the film's main events, would have marked a serious break from the Die Hard formula, in which the plot unfolds over a period of roughly 12 hours.

According to the DVD audio commentary, a second alternate ending had McClane and Carver floating back to shore on a makeshift raft after the explosion at sea. Carver says it is a shame the bad guys are going to get away; McClane tells him not to be so sure. The scene then shifts to the plane where the terrorists find the briefcase bomb they left in the park and which Carver gave back to them (in this version it was not used to blow up the dam). The film would end on a darkly comic note as Simon asks if anyone has a 4 gallon jug. This draft of the script was rejected early on, so it was never actually filmed. The rocket-launcher sequence was the only alternate ending to be filmed.


RCA Victor album[edit]

Michael Kamen returned to score the third film, again incorporating other material into his score (most notably "When Johnny Comes Marching Home", not included on the soundtrack album), but excerpts from his score for Die Hard 2 were tracked into the new film. The soundtrack was released by RCA Victor.

  1. Summer in the CityThe Lovin' Spoonful (2:44)
  2. Goodbye Bonwits (6:28)
  3. Got It Covered – Fu-Schnickens (4:13)
  4. John and Zeus (3:19)
  5. In Front of Kids – Extra Prolific (2:44)
  6. Papaya King (5:20)
  7. Take A-nother Train (2:55)
  8. The Iron Foundry – Alexander Mosolov (3:08)
  9. Waltz of the Bankers (4:13)
  10. Gold Vault (3:45)
  11. Surfing in the Aqueduct (2:30)
  12. Symphony No. 1Johannes Brahms (15:00)
  13. Symphony No. 9Ludwig van Beethoven (9:46)

La-La Land album[edit]

In 2012, La-La Land Records released a limited edition two-disc soundtrack containing the Kamen score.[citation needed]


Critical reaction[edit]

The film received mixed reviews with a 52% rating at Rotten Tomatoes. Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly stated that while "McTiernan stages individual sequences with great finesse... they don't add up to a taut, dread-ridden whole."[3] James Berardinelli thought that the explosions and fights were "filmed with consummate skill, and are thrilling in their own right."[4] Samuel L. Jackson was also praised in the film. Desson Howe of The Washington Post thought that "the best thing about the movie is the relationship between McClane and Zeus," saying that Jackson was "almost as good as he was in Pulp Fiction."[5] Roger Ebert gave the film a positive review, praising the action sequences and the performances of Willis, Jackson, and Irons, concluding: "Die Hard with a Vengeance is basically a wind-up action toy, cleverly made, and delivered with high energy. It delivers just what it advertises, with a vengeance."[6] Empire Magazine's Ian Nathan applauded the film with a 3/5 star review stating that "Die Hard With A Vengeance is better than Die Hard 2, but not as good as the peerless original. Though it's breathless fun, the film runs out of steam in the last act. And Jeremy Irons' villain isn't fit to tie Alan Rickman's shoelaces." [7]

Box office[edit]

The film earned $100,012,499 in the United States, while it earned $266,089,167 in other markets, giving it a total gross of $366,101,666 and making it the highest-grossing film of 1995.[1] Despite this success, the next film in the series would not be released for another 12 years.


External links[edit]