Simon (Jeremy Irons) has escaped to Quebec with an army of dump trucks, all brimming with gold bricks. He’s about to celebrate his victory over the NYPD when a white-hot spotlight tears through his window. It’s that fly in the ointment, again. That monkey in the wrench: John McClane (Bruce Willis).
Pushed past his breaking point, Simon simply can’t rest until his adversary is dead. He boards a helicopter and attempts to kill McClane from the sky. Instead, John uses one of his last remaining bullets to shoot a nearby electrical wire, which wraps around Simon’s rotor blades and crashes the copter in a fiery wreck.
So ends director John McTiernan’s 1995 sequel Die Hard with a Vengeance
, the third chapter in Willis’ ongoing action series. Except it wasn’t supposed to end this way.
Fans of the series know that McTiernan filmed an alternate ending to Vengeance, one that follows McClane to a European café where he confronts Simon with, of all things, a rocket launcher. The clip was included on a DVD special edition of Vengeance, and can be viewed below:
“How is it ‘alternative?’” Irons asks me.
We are sitting down at the Savannah Film Festival
in Savannah, Georgia, where the actor has participated in a Q&A following a commemorative screening of Adrian Lyne’s Lolita
. And while we eventually discuss what Lyne accomplished with his passionate pass of Nabokov, Irons seems genuinely interested in this Die Hard
with a Vengeance
I tell him the café scene was never included on the final cut of the film. I mention that the theatrical cut ends with the helicopter standoff, and that the café scene could only be seen after the fact, on a DVD release.
Irons, in all honesty, looks shocked.
“I really don’t remember that scene! Can I find it on YouTube?” he asks. “I have a feeling that the ending we used is the alternative ending. I think the ending you call the alternative ending – the spinning of the rocket launcher – I seem to recall we did shoot that, and it was going to be the end. But it didn’t work. I’ll look at the scene, and see why it didn’t work. It’s so interesting that I don’t hold it in my head, that I’ve forgotten about it. It’s probably because it didn’t work.”
With all due respect to Mr. Irons (and Mr. McTiernan), there are many Die Hard enthusiasts who prefer this ending, even though, at the time, it was deemed too violent and cold-hearted of a beat for McClane to end on.
It has nothing on the ending Irons says that he wanted.
“I always wanted Simon to come out of that helicopter, to have him in part four all scarred and almost unrecognizable, but still f***ing over McClane,” Irons says with a sinister laugh.
Someone get Willis on the phone, so he can reunite with Irons, restore the luster of the once-great series, and make amends for that dreadful A Good Day to Die Hard.
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