Before the world ever heard of Special Agent Jack Bauer, NYPD Lieutenant John McClane was the one causing countless dollars in property damage and killing terrorists. To our count, there are now two trilogies worth of Die Hard movies and if you ask us, there should have been only one Die Hard movie. However, we are in the middle of summer movie season, and the third entry in the franchise Die Hard with A Vengeance is set in McClane’s home, NYC. So shut your brain off for a little bit (we sure did watching it) and enjoy this list of NYC Film Locations for Die Hard with A Vengeance.
John McClane’s adventure begins on the corner of 138th street and Lenox Avenue. The film’s antagonist is playing a twisted game of Simon Says with the police lieutenant. The villain has McClane wear a sign around his body with a message that would in no way be acceptable in today’s summer cinema lineup. It is because of the sign that McClane meets Zeus (played by Samuel L. Jackson). Throughout the film Jackson is given the task of trying to out volume the number of explosions that effect NYC during the film’s runtime. We are only joking, but you might want to lower your volume whenever he shouts or an explosion is about to happen.
Simon makes John and Zeus get to a pay-phone (remember those?) outside the 72nd Street subway station. Once they arrive Simon tells the dynamic interracial duo the first of many riddles in what we think was a trope of 90’s cinematic villains. The station across the street from those delicious hot dogs from Gray’s Papaya was also featured in a much better NYC movie, the late 70s gang movie The Warriors. And architecturally, the 72nd Street subway station is part of the original 28 stations of the NYC subway system, designed by architects George Heins and Christopher LaFarge.
While Zeus does make it to Wall Street and McClane does find the bomb on the train (hidden behind the oh so obvious police box that is on no train car we have ever ridden in), Simon feels that they are cheating and detonates the bomb. The bomb, which McClane luckily throws outside the train before he can be killed by the blast, destroys most of the Wall Street Subway station.
So it seems that the whole “Simon Says” game between Simon and McClane is just a ploy so Simon and his goons can raid the Federal Reserve Bank in Wall Street. The bank has the world’s largest gold depository with solid gold bars from countries across the globe. Simon plans on moving the gold from the vault, through a hole that appeared with the explosion inside the Wall Street Station, and using 14 stolen dump trucks, take it through an underground passage to a boat while the entire police force are out looking for one particular bomb. If you were able to process all that (took us a while to) just remember that it was the 90s and most action movies expected us to believe this kind of stuff.
For a real life explosion on Wall Street, read about the terrorist attack on J.P. Morgan in 1920. You can still see the damage to the building at 23 Wall Street today.
Another bomb, another riddle. If you think that we would get bored with the whole “riddle” aspect of this cat-and-mouse chase then you are correct. Before they drop it entirely, McClane and Zeus run to Tompkins Square Park to do a challenge you would expect contestants of Double Dare to perform not a bad-ass cop and his loud mouth, racist sidekick. Don’t forget that in the ’90s, Tompkins Square Park was still pretty gritty, as you can see in the photographs here, but its also where Patti Smith met Robert Maplethorpe for the first time.
On Avenue A on the edge of Tomkins Square Park McClane and Zeus steal some bikes from neighborhood kids in front of Odessa, which shut down its dive bar last year.
The workplace of George Costanza and where Banksy would put up one of his last pieces during his NYC residency, is where the “Simon Says” game was suppose to end for McClane and Zeus. However the super-intelligent and cunning villain failed to realize that John McClane, the cop who plays by his own rules, decided to start playing by his own rules and go after him directly. A common mistake for most comical villains in action movies.
Film stills courtesy of 20th Century Fox
Simon says, contact the author @TatteredFedora