The Cinefessions crew loves sharing their opinions on films, but not every movie can get the attention it deserves with a full review. Enter the Cinefessions’ Capsule Reviews. These capsule reviews cover five of the most important aspects of a film, which allow the crew to deliver their opinions on any movie clearly, decisively, and with brevity. These are not our full thoughts on any film, just a highlighting of the major pros and/or cons.
Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson make for an incredible action duo. Most importantly, they’re legitimately funny. They both play off each other really well, and helped make With a Vengeance such a memorable outing. Jeremy Irons is just as impressive as Alan Rickman from the original as the bad guy. He, too, brings in some moments of humor, and these are much appreciated in between the over-the-top action sequences.
Story & Script
I’m surprised how well this story works, especially since this is the third entry into the series. John McClane is back in New York City, but he’s been suspended for his alcohol abuse problem. Unfortunately for him, the hangover he’s suffering is going to have to take a back seat because there’s a bad guy who has called him out. John is thrust right back into the action that only McClane could survive, but this time he brings along a civilian shop owner, Zeus (Samuel L. Jackson). We quickly find out that the bad guy on the other end of the phone, the one making John and Zeus run around NYC in a scary game of life or death, is the brother of the villain from the first film. This is an important factor, and one that really drove home this whole story for me. Sure, everything gets more and more ridiculous as it goes on, and the film just keeps adding in these insane situations for McClane and Zeus to try to get out of, but it never stops being amusing. The action set pieces are really something special, especially considering the lack of CGI. This is basically a rinse and repeat of the first story, but instead of being set in L.A. in an office building, it takes place in the streets of a busy city, which makes it all the more interesting.
John McTiernan is back from the first film, and it really pays off. Die Hard 2 is a good movie, but Vengeance really blows it out of the water, and it feels like a grittier version of the first film (the mid-’90s New York City setting definitely helps that effect). He is able to create some truly awesome set pieces, generally in the form of large explosions. I kept wondering how the hell they were pulling some of these stunts off as I stared in wonder. With a Vengeance is a big action film, and John McTiernan does those really well.
With a Vengeance is big, loud, and feels like a Michael Bay production at times, but that isn’t a bad thing. Here’s my surely unpopular opinion: Die Hard: With a Vengeance is more fun than Die Hard. The movie is worth watching if just for the incredible chemistry between Willis and Jackson alone.
Oh, you better believe I’ll be watching this again. Where the first one has it’s slow moments, With a Vengeance never seems to stop, for better or for worse. This will definitely be one that I visit over and over again.
Die Hard: With a Vengeance is a bigger, crazier version of Die Hard. I understand that most will like the first film more simply because it is the original, but for my money, With a Vengeance is the one I’d watch again over Die Hard. There’s a ton of excellent action sequences, laugh out loud humor, and tense moments to make this a big blockbuster worth owning.
Branden has been a film fan since he was young, roaming the halls of Blockbuster Video, trying to find the grossest, scariest looking VHS covers to rent and watch alone in the basement. It wasn’t until recently, though, that Branden started seeking out the classics of cinema, and began to develop his true passion for the art form. Branden approaches each film with the unique perspective of having studied the art from the inside, having both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in acting. He has been a film critic since 2010, and has previously written for Inside Pulse Movies, We Love Cult, and Diehard Gamefan. His biggest achievement as a film critic, to date, has been founding Cinefessions and turning it from a personal blog to a true film website, housing hundreds of film and television reviews, and dozens of podcasts.