Table of contents

Die Hard: With a Vengeance

The city on fire

This action movie looks back to the original it succeeds. Apparently, this is because of vengeance: the evil man today is brother to the evil man the other day. Apparently, Americans find it impossible or undesirable to destroy the evil to the last one, so they have to fight the last war again & again. Being so afraid of dying, they are also adverse to killing, so they do not ask themselves whose death will bring them peace.

Terrorism, therefore, returns to America. This time bombs start exploding in New York. The wisecracking cynical New Yorkers are silent. As it turns out, they were all talk… The innocent are so defenseless that they are as soon killed as seen. What would they have done had they known there was evil in the world & that their time of trial would one day come? The heartbreaking part seems to be the bomb planted in a school. Our kids, we are told, are our future. What cruel jokes this terrorist makes…

Fear of America means nothing if terrorists can destroy New York. But such a large & busy city could only defend itself if the difference between lawlessness & lawfulness was reasonably clear. This is impossible in New York, even the cleaner NYC of the Giuliani era, where you see women & children walking the streets unafraid. The film opens with an explosion in a shop: normal life is no stronger than the laws; & in America the laws make promises they cannot fulfill.

Law is weak because people fear crime but not the law. The law has no majesty which men do not fear & which is not enforced. Liberalism requires, for love of tolerance, that the laws should not be enforced, for they are judged to be cruel & unsympathetic. They demand harshness of soft men. In NYC, not even cops look like cops. John McClane is therefore concealed. It seems Americans might allow him to save them if they do not see the crisis coming, they do not realize he will save them, & they believe it is the last crisis.

The terrorist is amused to send John McClane to Harlem to anger blacks, who apparently agree that whites, even policemen, are more hateful than blacks, even criminals. John McClane’s newfound sidekick is black, a single father of two boys, a small businessman who avoids whites because they bring trouble. His spiritedness & calculations make him useful, but he must be deceived about Harlem being threatened to care. John McClane is right to lie in this crisis: he is superior to this man, who consents to be ruled once he goes out of Harlem & sees the crisis.

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