Exceptionally well-directed by John McTiernan, Die Hard made Bruce Willis a star back in 1988 and established a new template for action stories. Here the bad guys, led by the velvet-voiced Alan Rickman, assume control of a Los Angeles high-rise with Willis's visiting New York cop inside. The attraction of the film has as much to do with the sight of a barefoot mortal running around the guts of a modern office tower as it has with the plentiful fight sequences and the bond the hero establishes with an LA beat cop. Bonnie Bedelia plays Willis's wife, Hart Bochner is... good as a brash hostage who tries negotiating his way to freedom, Alexander Godunov makes for a believable killer with lethal feet and William Atherton is slimy as a busybody reporter. Director Renny Harlin took the reins for the 1990 sequel, Die Harder, which places Willis's New York City cop in harm's way again with a gaggle of terrorists. This time, Willis awaits his wife's arrival at Dulles Airport in Washington, DC when he gets wind of a plot to blow up the facility. Noisy, overbearing and forgettable, the film has none of the purity of its predecessor's simple story; and it makes a huge miscalculation in allowing a terrible tragedy to occur rather than stretch out the tension. Where Die Hard set new precedents in action movies, Die Hard 2 is just an anything-goes spectacle --Tom Keogh The second sequel, Die Hard with a Vengeance brings Detective John McClane to New York City to face a better villain than in Die Hard 2. Jeremy Irons is the brother of Alan Rickman's Germanic terrorist-thief from the original film. But this bad guy has his sights set higher: on the Federal Reserve's cache of gold. As a distraction, he sets McClane running fool's errands all over New York--and eventually, McClane attracts an unintentional partner, a Harlem dry cleaner (Samuel L Jackson) with a chip on his shoulder. Some great action sequences can't obscure the rather large plot holes in the film's final 45 minutes. --Marshall Fine [show more]
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