Twenty years ago, after two blockbuster movies and a five-year wait, the "Die Hard" franchise roared back into theaters with the explosive "Die Hard with a Vengeance."
The movie was released on May 19, 1995, and it was an instant classic, thanks to a smart script, exciting plot, and the absolutely stellar chemistry between Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson. But not only was "Die Hard with a Vengeance" a great movie, it was also arguably the best of its kind: unstoppable, and untoppable.
Below, we round up the reasons why the third film in the series is the greatest "Die Hard" that ever was, or ever will be.
It's got the best opening scene in "Die Hard" history.
The insanely catchy strains of the Lovin' Spoonful's "Summer in the City" makes the perfect backdrop for this steamy, gritty introduction into New York's daily grind -- and you're in full-on bopping-along mode when everything suddenly goes BOOM.
Let's see that again.
Keeping in mind that DHwaV was filmed before CGI made it possible to create scenes like this without breaking a single window, this moment is utter, terrifying perfection.
No dumb, punny title.
Amid all the playing-on-words of the latter "Die Hard" movies ("A Good Day to Die Hard," "Live Free or Die Hard," "Die Hard 2: Die Harder"), it's nice to see a film in the franchise break from tradition a little bit. ("Should we called it 'Die Hardest'?" "Nah, that's dumb. Just tack on some badass-sounding words and call it a day.")
Samuel L. Jackson in these glasses.
Hello there, sir.
Samuel L. Jackson in general.
Perfect performance is perfect.
Contemporary race issues get almost as much screen time as the explosions and gunfighting.
The out-in-the-open way that "Die Hard with a Vengeance" deals with race was unusual at the time, which makes it feel unusually fresh and timely 20 years later.
Bruce Willis's leading man appeal was at peak grizzle.
He was exactly the right amount of bald, too.
Jeremy Irons is the ultimate VILF.
That's villain we'd like to... y'know.
Also, his bad guy shirts are the best.
IT'S A PURPLE SLEEVELESS CROP TOP, YOU GUYS.
The part where this man calls John McClane "a toilet bug."
[Stage whisper] A toilet bug?!
There's little to no Holly drama.
Much as we love the earlier Die Hards, McClane's constant butthurt over things like his wife having a career (gasp!) or keeping her name (horror!) was getting old by the time this one came out. The fact that this movie found the couple estranged was both realistic and a relief.
It's the "Die Hard" for smart people.
How often do you get an action flick where the heroes spend the entire first half of the film solving puzzles to save lives?
But it's still very, very "Die Hard."
In a franchise that distinguishes itself with action that toes the line between "creative" and "ridiculous," "Die Hard with a Vengeance" stays on brand, in the best way.