Sunday, September 30, 2018

The Movie Project -- Die Hard 3: Die Hard with a Vengeance

Synopsis in 3 sentences or less:
John McClane, who is down on his luck and suspended from the NYPD, gets asked by a German named Simon to perform tasks around New York City in a game of "Simon Says," or else Simon will set off a bomb. McClane gets help from Zeus, a shop owner in Harlem, and they learn that Simon is the late Hans Gruber's brother. As Simon sends the NYPD on a wild goose chase looking for a school bomb, McClane realizes that his main motive isn't a bomb or revenge, but rather a bank heist. 

Memorable Quote:
He didn't say Jesus, he said Hey Zeus. My name is Zeus -- yeah, Zeus, as in father of Apollo, Mount Olympus, don't @#$% with me or I'll shove a lightning bolt up your ass.  ~Zeus

So much to choose from, but I gotta go with Samuel L. Jackson as Zeus and the chemistry he has with Bruce Willis. Buddy cop movies/shows can easily go wrong (see the MacGyver reboot as an example), but they strike the right tone here with hilarious, profanity-laced back and forths while still keeping the element of seriousness.

The alternate ending, which is not officially part of the movie but is worth mentioning because of how nonsensical and bad it is.

Most interesting piece of IMDB trivia:
You would actually need four hundred eighty dump trucks to steal all the gold from the Federal Reserve.

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • I still remember the first time I saw this movie -- it was the summer after 8th grade and I was spending the weekend away from home at a soccer tournament. One night, the team went to the movies, and most of the players went to see Congo, but all of the fathers went to see Die Hard 3, as did me and one other kid. I've never seen Congo, but I'm pretty sure that I made the right choice. 
  • Interesting coincidence that the screenwriter, Jonathan Hensleigh, also wrote the Trenches of Hell Young Indiana Jones episode that I've been taking 5 months to watch.
  • Detective Lambert is played by Native American actor Graham Greene, who I know from Maverick (coming at some point to The Movie Project) and Longmire
  • 17:50 mark:
    • "You interfered with a well-laid plan."  ~Simon
    • "Yeah? Well, you can stick your well-laid plan up your well-laid ass."  ~Zeus
  • Phone booths play a prominent role in this movie, but today there are only four phone booths in all of NYC (Colbert recently did a skit involving this). 
  • Great scene in the car when McClane and Zeus are getting briefed by the FBI about who Simon really is. And Simon calling and identifying the FBI agents in the car reminds me of Viking doing a similar thing in the MacGyver episode Countdown.
  • 48:42: 
    • "They're shutting down the police band. All calls will be coming through this switchboard."  ~Sergeant Turley
    • "And I'm gonna marry Donald Trump!"  ~Wanda Shepard
    • Now there's a line that hasn't aged well.  
  • 49:50: the classic Die Hard trope of the 30 bad guys walking with menace and purpose, yet unnoticed by everyone else on the street. 
  • Inspired usage of the U.S. Civil War song "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" during the bank heist.  
  • Sam Phillips, who plays Katya, was an indy-pop singer with no previous acting experience when she was cast. The director thought she had the look of a German terrorist based on her CD cover -- that must have been an interesting first conversation. It's unclear if Katya, who has no lines in the movie, is incapable of speaking or just chooses not to. 
  • Why are there only a couple of security guards at the Federal Reserve building? Even with the school bomb threat and officers being pulled in different directions, there should still be more than two people guarding 140 billion dollars! 
  • When Targo, the big Hungarian, wants to go into the aqueduct and shoot McClane, Simon suggests blowing the dam instead. But shooting him would have made more sense considering that there was 13 billion dollars in the back of his truck. 
  • At minimum, McClane and Zeus would have broken an arm and/or a leg from that fall onto the boat. 
  • Always hard to watch the scene where Zeus gets ready to shoot Simon but doesn't take the safety catch off and then gets shot himself. That's on McClane for not thinking to tell Zeus about the safety catch. 
  • Simon broadcasts a message inviting everyone who's "not in gridlock" to come watch the boat explode, but why does he give away his location, and why don't the authorities come in full force to grab him before he leaves the boat?

Final Analysis:
Quite simply the best action movie of all time. (Disclaimer: James Bond and Indiana Jones are adventure movies, not action movies). It straddles the line perfectly between action, drama, and humor -- even Charlie the bomb squad guy, the goofiest character in the movie, manages to fit in without being overly farcical. It's an updated and fresh sequel while still retaining the franchise's DNA, and it's also a great New York City movie.  Placing it in the Movie Project's Phenomenally Stupendously Fantastic category.

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