Die Hard: With a Vengeance (1995)

Let's forget Die Hard 2 ever happened.

Directed by: John McTiernan (who handled the first Die Hard and The Thomas Crown Affair)

Written by: Jonathan Hensleigh

Starring: Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Irons, Larry Bryggman, Graham Greene, Sam Phillips, Colleen Camp and Anthony Peck.

What it’s about: Five years after the second Die Hard, John McClane is back and at the mercy of a terrorist threatening New York City with bombings

B-Movie Alternate Title: Die Hard in New York

Movie Mash Up: It’s like Die Hard, but in New York!

What I liked: Huge fan of the Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson chemistry.  Loved the writing, which is so much greater than the second one that it makes the existence of the second one even more annoying.  Jeremy Irons makes a great foil for McClane.  It’s got great action sequences, intrigue, a playful sensibility and it isn’t afraid to be a bit different than the Die Hard formula, although there STILL is a black sidekick.  Seeing how McClane’s personal life had fallen apart so much since the second movie – while depressing – gives the film more of an authentic feel.

What I disliked: Larry Bryggman seems to be attempting to do the world’s worst Commissioner Jim Gordon impersonation.  Perhaps that’s just the direction he was given, but his character was just weak all around.  While I did say the movie isn’t afraid to be a bit different, the times it decides that it has to show that it is a Die Hard movie are some of the weaker points in the film.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: Sure.  For years I was more a fan of this movie than I was a fan of the original Die Hard, but I’ve gone the other way now.  It’s a strong sequel, not just a slapped together moneymaker.

Rating: 4 / 5

Badass in black and white

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Margin Call (2011)

More than anything else, the year of 2011 has taught me how fragile job security can be in the economic state our world is in today.  I lost my job, the company I formerly worked for went into receivership, I spent five months unemployed, and my mother lost her job too.  I watched movies like The Company Men, Everything Must Go, Too Big to Fail and was emotionally devastated by almost all of them in new, different, painful ways.  What better way to end the year, than with a movie that takes place during a 36-hour period where a Wall Street company realises how fucked they potentially are, and its efforts to stave off financial death.

I’m not going into too much detail about the movie, as most of the jargon might as well have been Star Trek techno-babble to me.  Basically, Eric Dale (Stanley Tucci) is let go / down-sized / fired in the midst of learning about the disastrous financial ruin that is about to happen to the company.  He passes the info on to one of his former underlings, Peter Sullivan (Zachary Quinto), who then immerses himself in the problem only to come to the conclusion that everyone is fucked.

Much like Too Big to Fail, it is a movie fairly heavy on the details, but it backs those details up with actors that can make you care about something that you have no idea about.  Kevin Spacey plays the tired, experienced leader role perfectly, and there are numerous tropes that present themselves throughout the film, all expertly acted by great actors.  There are no bad performances in this movie, and if you’re reminded a bit of Up in the Air as well, well that’s never a bad thing.  Unlike 2B2F, the movie is fairly accessible to everyone, and since it’s just semi based on actual events, we don’t know exactly what’s going to happen.  Definitely recommended.

4 / 5