American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
There was a time when the James Bond movies started with one sensational stunt sequence, and we were grateful for it. Now there are movies that are essentially nothing but sensational stunt sequences, one after another, each one a feat of staging, until we're reeling in our seats from input overload. "Die Hard With a Vengeance" is the kind of movie where, toward the end, you start looking for the kitchen sink.
The movie, third in the "Die Hard" series, stars Bruce Willis as detective John McClane, this time on the New York police force - or, more accurately, suspended from it. There's a scene where the chief takes out McClane's badge and shoves it across the desk, and McClane asks, "Does this mean I'm back on active duty?" I heard knowledgeable chuckles in the audience from those who appreciate the fine old traditions, such as that all hero cops are rogues who are either under suspension or heading for it.
After the frighteningly realistic bombing of a Manhattan department store, McClane gets a call from a mad bomber named Simon (Jeremy Irons), ordering him to stand on a Harlem street corner wearing a sandwich board bearing a motto that one would particularly hope not to be wearing in Harlem. McClane's life is saved by a local store owner named Zeus (Samuel L. Jackson), who is then included in Simon's strange game of cat and mouse.
The pattern of the movie is particularly suited to a series of stunts and violent action sequences. Simon, who seems to be everywhere and see everything, sends McClane and Zeus hurtling around Manhattan on one death-defying mission after another (at one point piloting a cab down the sidewalks of Central Park). Bombs seem to be everywhere in the city - on a subway train, for starters, and then in a city school.