Somewhat to my surprise, our Friday night film was Die Hard: With a Vengeance, number three in the quadrilogy. Mostly I find action movies preposterously silly, and this one was no exception. Trains, trucks, cars, and copters all competing for the nearest miss, the biggest explosion, the most uncreditable survival. A villain with a strong German accent and a Nazi strut, replete with blonde crewcutted henchmen, needed only a cat to stroke while plotting his wildly implausible bombs-and-bulldozers heist to make him indistinguishable from Dr Evil. Yet genius though he was, he was no match for John McClane's unique dumbass/badass/wiseass wit.
I confess to enjoying the performances of Bruce Willis and Samuel L Jackson very much. Their panicky, rancourous banter while trying to solve absurd puzzles before bombs explode was often hilarious, and Jackson especially had a lot of fun with his angry black man rhetoric. Both have an excellent comic sensibility and here it was not totally overwhelmed by the film's otherwise earnest delivery of seat-gripping tension.
I think what I didn't like about it, and probably why I don't like most action movies, is not so much the destruction or outrageous improbabilities but the story-telling. The way the story is told suggests no very complimentary estimate of the viewer's intellect. I guessed the internal monologue of this film's ideal viewer would sound something like this:
"Wow, look at that! I can't believe he's going to do that! He did it! Wow! That's unbelievable. He's crazy. Woah, look what he's doing now! No way! Now it looks like he's going to jump off that thing...Don't do it! It's really going to hurt! He did it! He jumped off that thing and landed really hard on that other thing! Ouch! That must have really hurt! I can't believe he's still alive. Hang on, who's this guy? He's not saying much, but we keep seeing him. Now he's saying something. Yep, he's really important. Thought he must be. What's happening now? Oh no, they're going to crash! They crashed! Ouch! That's amazing. I can't believe they're still alive."
By the end of the film that's pretty much exactly how my internal monologue sounded. Somewhat to my surprise.