Die Hard: With a Vengeance
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A Note Regarding Spoilers

The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Die Hard With a Vengeance can be found here.

Police Lieutenant John McClane (Bruce Willis), now back with the NYPD, has been suspended from the force for reasons due to a drinking problem. McClane is reinstated when a bomb goes off in the Bonwit Teller Department Store and someone calling himself 'Simon' (Jeremy Irons) contacts Inspector Walter Cobb (Larry Bryggman) to insist that McClane (and ONLY McClane) must do as he says or he will detonate another bomb. With the help of Harlem electrician Zeus Carver (Samuel L. Jackson), McClane is forced to race all over New York City playing 'Simon Says'...until McClane realizes that the bomb scare is a ruse and the stakes are much higher.

Unlike the first two movies, Die Hard (1988) and Die Hard 2 (1990), both of which were based on novels, as well as the sequel Live Free or Die Hard (2007), which was based on a magazine article, Die Hard With a Vengeance is the first Die Hard film with an original storyline (the other original storyline is A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)). The screenplay was actually written by American screenwriter Jonathan Hensleigh as a spec script, with no connection to any film series. It was later briefly considered as a potential fourth Lethal Weapon film, but eventually was picked up by the director of the original Die Hard, John McTiernan, and used as another sequel to Die Hard. Its Lethal Weapon roots are faintly visible, in that it's much more of a "buddy movie" than the first two Die Hards.

The expression 'with a vengeance' isn't very well known with non-native English speakers. It means 'with intense motivation and/or in a violent manner'. Die Hard 2 had the subtitle 'Die Harder', to indicate that the challenge would be tougher than in the original movie. This third installment adds 'with a vengeance' to suggest an even more increased intensity. It also works in the literal sense, as vengeance, or revenge, plays a significant part in this movie's plot.

There are no clues in the movie to show any sequential relationship to Die Hard 2, but they do mention the Nakatomi incident from Die Hard, so it's safe to say that Die Hard with a Vengeance takes place after Die Hard. In fact, It has been suggested that Die Hard with a Vengeance may chronologically take place after Die Hard but before Die Hard 2. However, the internal timeline of the series rules this out. In Die Hard with a Vengeance, Zeus mentions Hillary Clinton becoming the 43rd President, indicating that Bill Clinton is the 42nd. Clinton was elected President in 1993, so Die Hard with a Vengeance definitely takes place in or after 1993, whereas Die Hard was set in 1988 and Die Hard 2 in 1990.

No. Die Hard With a Vengeance starts with the song 'Summer in the City', and people can be seen walking around in short sleeve shirts. At one point in the movie, one of the officers comments on how he takes the elevator when it's this hot out. McClane, while investigating at the Federal Reserve Bank, mentions that it's an Indian summer, and one of the department stores had a sign that said 'Back to School Sale', so the likelihood of it being the Christmas season is nonexistent. Best guess is that it was sometime after the kids went back to school after their summer vacation...which, even if it was an Indian Summer, would place it in the autumn.

John explains that Holly (Bonnie Bedelia) is still in Los Angeles and that they've been separated for a year. He further explains to Zeus, while handcuffed on the ship, that Holly and he got into a fight over the phone, she hung up on him, and he never called her back. The confusing part is that John had transferred to Los Angeles in between the first two films in order to be with his family. So it seems odd that John would transfer back to New York and then separate from Holly. It would stand to reason that John and Holly were having problems and decided to give each other some space, so John transferred back to the NYPD, then they had the argument over the phone in which John didn't call her back.

Simon is quickly identified to be Simon Peter Gruber, brother to Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) who McClane killed in Die Hard.

He was watching from above and may have had one of his men standing around to identify who was in the car. The agents were obviously specifically assigned to track and capture Peter Krieg/Simon Gruber. Gruber may have already had a few run-ins with them. He also ran an infiltration unit, so he may have had his men find out which agents were on his case, judging by the fact that he knows the men's first names and even Bill Jarvis' (Michael Cristofer) habit of chewing on his glasses. Gruber also finds out surprisingly quickly who Zeus Carver is and where his nephews go to school, indicating that he is very well connected.

Both the 'young cop' and Ricky Walsh are played by Anthony Peck, so it could be said that John befriended the 'young cop' in Los Angeles. Then when John transferred back to New York, the 'young cop' aka Ricky Walsh came with him. It was suggested that they were partners or at least good friends in this film. It is also notable that Walsh is the one who reminds everyone of 'that thing in LA', so he obviously has some knowledge about what happened in Die Hard.

In order to complete the last four digits of a phone number, McClane is given the following riddle: As I was going to St Ives, I met a man with seven wives. Every wife had seven sacks. In every sack was seven cats. Every cat had seven kittens. Kittens, cats, sacks and wives, how many were going to St. Ives? At first, McClane and Carver attempt to answer the question by multiplying 7 x 7 x 7 x 7 (or 7^4) = 2401, until they realize that only one person...the teller of the riddle...was going to St Ives, thus the phone number must end in 0001.

Zeus didn't really give McClane the answer to this question. He simply says "Don't you have kids? That's an elephant joke.". The actual answer to the riddle is; An elephant, because it has four legs and a trunk.

There are actually two solutions to the riddle. SOLUTION 1: Fill the five gallon jug and pour three gallons into the three gallon jug, leaving two gallons in the five gallon jug. Empty the three gallon jug and pour in it the two gallons from the five gallon jug, leaving space for one gallon in the three gallon jug. Refill the five gallon jug and pour water from it into the three gallon jug until the small jug's full. That leaves exactly four gallons in the big jug. Put the five gallon jug (now holding four gallons) on the scale, and the bomb is disarmed. SOLUTION 2: Fill the three gallon jug and pour the water into the five gallon jug. Refill the three gallon jug and pour it into the five gallon jug until the big jug is full, leaving one gallon in the small jug. Empty the big jug and transfer the one gallon from the small jug into the big jug. Refill the three gallon jug and pour it into the five gallon jug, resulting in four gallons in the big jug. Again, place the big jug on the scale, and the bomb is disarmed.

- Simon blows up a department store in order to get the attention of the Police and to show them he wasn't afraid to detonate.

- Simon then sends McClane and Zeus Carver to play elaborate riddles that if failed, will cause "another big bang in a very public place."

- One such assignment has McClane and Zeus heading to a payphone at a subway station across town, in New York traffic in a limited amount of time (making the trek impossible). McClane suspects something is amiss and sends Zeus to the payphone while McClane himself boards the train to look for the bomb.

- Zeus answers the payphone but because McClane isn't with him, Simon says that this is considered non-compliance and the bomb will detonate. However, the bomb's trigger was on the train track and when the train struck it, it detonated. McClane found the bomb in time and threw it out the back of the train which caused a large explosion and crashed the train, however nobody was killed.

- Simon then tells the police that he has stashed a massive amount of explosives in a school. He tells the police that they cannot evacuate but doesn't tell them they cannot search. This clears every police officer out of the Wall Street area.

- The blast caused the alarms at the Federal Reserve Bank to go haywire. Some of Simon's men were sent in as alarm repairmen who disconnected the alarm.

- Simon and some of his men pose as city engineers in order to get all their digging equipment into the subway.

- Simon and his men then pose as foreign businessmen who enter the Federal Reserve Bank and dispatch all the guards in the lobby and head down to the vault.

- Simon's men drill through the subway into the vault and start stealing all the Federal Reserve gold...some $140,000,000,000.00 worth.

- Simon leads some of his men (mainly Targo) to believe they were loading the gold on a cargo ship only to blow it up. However, Simon switches the gold with scrap metal in order to keep the gold for themselves.

There are actually several indications that would make John suspicious. Keep in mind that McClane is a detective, so he obviously has an instinct to look for the slightest detail. First, he meets Karl who had a faint German accent. Karl then says it seems like it's going to rain "dogs and cats". The common way of saying it in North America is "cats and dogs". Then he also mentions that he finds himself always riding the "lift". In North America it is most commonly referred to as an "elevator". When John enters the elevator with the four men, one of whom wore an NYPD badge, McClane clearly starts feeling uneasy and also saw that the one guard behind him on his left was staring at him and grinning. McClane acknowledges him and asks him how he was doing but the man just kept grinning at him. After this, McClane notices that the NYPD badge that "Detective Otto" was wearing had the number 6991 on it. Earlier in the film, John's friend Ricky mentioned that every time he plays the lottery he plays his badge number; 6991. Lastly, John asks if any of them played the lottery. Nobody did, which would seem strange in New York that out of 4 men there wouldn't be at least ONE who played the lottery. So McClane took all these little hints to mean that all of these men were imposters and not just one or two of them.

It's a suspension of disbelief moment of course, BUT there was a brief bit of dialog between Zeus and John right before John went into the tunnel with Jerry the truckdriver that almost (but not fully!) validates it: John charges Zeus with going to Yankee Stadium to follow up on a lead from Simon. Moments before that, John tells Zeus to meet him about 20 miles north where the aqueduct being constructed was going to join a larger one. After checking out Yankee Stadium and believing it to be a worthless lead, Zeus drove north to the aqueduct junction and happened to see John being spewed out of the manhole. What's mostly unbelievable is that, a) while being shot up by the water, John would come out at that precise spot when the tunnel is miles long, and b) Zeus would have seen him or be driving by at that exact location.

How does the movie end?

By picking the locks on their handcuffs with a splinter of cable, Zeus and John escape the tanker just before the bomb detonates. Later, as they have their wounds tended, the police call for dredges in order to start salvaging the gold from the ocean floor. John tells them not to bother and informs them that there was no gold on the tanker, so Simon must have moved it elsewhere, and no one knows where he's gone. Admitting their defeat, Zeus tosses a quarter to John and tells him to phone Holly. John places the call while taking some aspirins from the bottle that Simon tossed him. Before Holly can even get on the line, John notices a name on the aspirin bottle that reads 'Nord des Lignes', the name of a huge truck stop on the U.S./Quebec border. John and Zeus in helicopters lead a raid on a nearby warehouse where Simon, Katya (Sam Phillips), and their platoon are celebrating their success and distributing their gold. Simon sends all the trucks scurrying for Nova Scotia while he boards a helicopter and attempts to shoot down McClane. Zeus' helicopter gets hit, and he's forced to land, and John's helicopter follows suit. Zeus can't get his seatbelt unbuckled, so John tries to distract Simon, who comes bearing straight toward him. With only two bullets left in his gun, John is able to shoot down a power line. The line gets caught in Simon's copter blades, and the helicopter explodes. In the final scene, John and Zeus sit together on the curb waiting for the police to arrive, and John remembers his phone call to Holly that got interrupted. Zeus tells him that she'll get over it and that he should call her again. John points out that Holly is a very stubborn woman, but he places the call.

The British BBFC 15 version is missing six short violent scenes like some of the shooting in the elevator and so on. A definitive comparison between both versions can be found here.

Yes. There was an alternate ending which was filmed and intended to end the series, but the studio felt that it was too dark and ended on a low note. The alternate ending has Simon outsmarting John McClane and getting away with the gold. Simon smuggled the gold out of the country by melting it down into little gold Empire State Building souvenirs. Simon is seen sitting in a small cafe in Germany, where McClane finds him and sits across from him. McClane then tells Simon that the feds suspected McClane actually had helped Gruber and he wound up being investigated and fired from the NYPD. McClane then puts a Chinese Rocket Launcher on the table, having removed any identifying labels on the device. He then tells Simon they are going to play a version of Russian Roulette, John will give Simon a series of riddles. Simon is free to turn the rocket launcher around towards himself or John as many times as he wants (due to the markings being removed, it's impossible to tell which direction the rocket will fire). Once Simon gets a question wrong, he has to fire the launcher, depending on the direction it's pointed, it will kill either himself or McClane. The final riddle is "A good guy and a bad guy are sitting in a bar. Bad Guy brings a bottle of Brandy, the good guy brings a bomb. The only problem is the bad guy neglects to bring something that could save his life. What is it?" Simon gets this question wrong, turns the rocket launcher once more and then McClane makes him fire it. The rocket kills Gruber. McClane stands up, removes his flak jacket, and says "He forgot his flak jacket. That's what he forgot." The scene in its entirety can be viewed here.

Page last updated by TheWorldOfFilm, 1 month ago
Top 5 Contributors: briangcb, l-m-degraw, the-bloodening, tonymontana0074, !!!deleted!!! (2011934)

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