Die Hard with a Vengeance was that most rare of sequels: a film that took everything that made the original brilliant while adding fantastic new elements like Samuel L. Jackson’s Zeus Carver, water jug puzzles and a top villain in Jeremy Irons’ Simon Gruber.
Fans didn’t realise it back then, but it would also be the last time we would get a decent Die Hard movie, with the two subsequent follow-ups trying and failing to replicate the city-wide mayhem that made Vengeance so distinctly different to the first film and it’s Nakatomi Plaza setting.
Die Hard with a Vengeance could have been very different though: director John McTiernan had originally wanted Sean Connery in the role of Gruber while Laurence Fishburne was tapped up to play Carver.
More importantly, the finished film originally had a very different ending which was strange, sadistic and also kind of awesome.
In this version of the movie, Irons’ Gruber successfully evades the clutches of McClane and escapes to Eastern Europe.
This sets up a tense encounter in an unspecified gentleman’s club in Europe where Gruber, relaxing with a newspaper and a scotch after his big heist success, is confronted by McClane.
As McClane explains, since Gruber’s escape, he has been implicated in the heist and is now on a mission to clear his name, having tracked down Irons’ character thanks to a number found on the bottom of an Aspirin bottle.
Now face-to-face with the man responsible for costing him his job on the NYPD, McClane invites Simon to play a game.
It’s simple enough: Gruber must answer a riddle but, if incorrect, Simon must fire a rocket launcher, placed on the table in front of him.
There’s just one catch: the directional arrows have been removed and, once spun around, Gruber won’t know whether the rocket will be fired at him or McClane.
Forced at gunpoint to fire the rocket launcher, the scene ends, perhaps predictably, with Gruber on the wrong end of a projectile, while McClane walks away revealing a flak-jacket that would have saved his life.
Originally put in the film to show that Willis’ character had been pushed over the edge by the events of the movie, the ending was ultimately changed after the studio deemed it too cruel to feature in the finished edit.
It nevertheless represents a pretty awesome alternative to what played out in the final film and is 100 times better than anything Die Hard related we have seen since.