Die Hard With a Vengeance has an alternate ending that turns John McClane into a brutal, cold and merciless version of his old self.
In Die Hard With a Vengeance, the third entry into the popular action series, Bruce Willis’ John McClane was pushed to the limit by Simon (Jeremy Irons), who stole gold from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Simon eventually faked a bombing that sank the loot and was trying to smuggle it back to Europe from Canada. However, in the finale, McClane would track him down and blow his chopper up.
Now, while bringing the calvary in felt like typical McClane, the movie’s alternative ending actually changes McClane into someone much more cerebral and way more brutal as he scrubs his heroic persona.
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In an alternate ending included on the Special Edition DVD, Simon’s able to get away with the gold, but McClane tracks him down to Hungary. He confronts him in a bar and reveals Simon betrayed his own colleagues and took all the gold for himself, melting them down in Statues of Liberty to move across the globe. Simon’s shocked as McClane makes it clear he’s here for revenge. He’s already killed Simon’s protectors and wants to finish the job he started back in America.
He puts down a Chinese rocket launcher and starts playing “McClane Says,” dropping riddle after riddle like what Simon did him and Samuel L. Jackson’s Zeus. It’s the first time Simon is this nervous as he answers the questions and keeps spinning the launcher à la Russian roulette. He’s held at gunpoint, not knowing which end the rocket will deploy from. It culminates with McClane forcing him to push the trigger, with the rocket blasting through Simon’s torso. McClane leaves, basking in his victory and coming off like a vindictive mastermind.
What’s interesting about this is McClane taking pleasure in the act. Here, he kills not in the name of self defense, but as part of a vendetta. He’s actually lost his job and pension, with his precinct and the FBI suspicious he was part of the heist, although they can’t prove it. It’s why he became so bitter and eager to get to Simon: he has nothing to lose. He’s a different beast, one that is cold, calculated and cutthroat, no longer caring about the gold — he just wants Simon’s head.
Apart from no longer being a cop, he also lost his wife, Holly, so this is a McClane with nothing left to lose. He’s a full-blown vigilante, which changes the dynamic we’re accustomed to with him and the badge. This ending wasn’t used, though, as the creative team felt like it was anticlimactic and lacking the intensity most of the film had, opting instead for McClane to come to Canada with a legion.
The team also felt like this was too dramatic and evil a shift for him. However, this ending would have made sense. Despite being so sinister and cruel, after dealing with Hans Gruber and Simon (his brother), it’d feel like a natural evolution for a cop who gave everything and was kicked out the force in disgrace.
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