“Die Hard” trilogy | Chicago Reader

“Die Hard” trilogy

Bruce Willis, stripped for action like Rambo, stars in these three adventure thrillers, playing a New York detective who's perpetually running into terrorists while he's off the clock. In Die Hard (1988, 131 min.) he visits Los Angeles to see his estranged wife (Bonnie Bedelia) and arrives at her Century City office building just as it's being taken over by a gang headed by Alan Rickman. This serviceable if rather overblown thriller features a spectacular Cecil B. De Mille-like conclusion and makes good use of its skyscraper set, but the script is fairly routine and much of the wit consists of characters calling one another “dickhead”; John McTiernan directed. As for Die Hard 2 (1990, 124 min.), if your idea of a good time is watching stupid, unpleasant people insult and brutalize one another, this second installment will be right up your alley. Here the bad guys cause planes to crash at Dulles Airport in Washington and make unwitty wisecracks before they shoot people. The talented Renny Harlin (A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master) directed this gory, violent, protofascist nonsense, but I wonder if even D.W. Griffith could have transcended the mean-spirited and dehumanizing script. I haven't seen the third and (to date) final installment, Die Hard With a Vengeance (1995, 128 min.), but apparently it's more of the same: this time Willis, back in New York, joins forces with Samuel L. Jackson to defeat psychoterrorist Jeremy Irons; McTiernan once again directed.

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