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The best movie heists are thrilling, suspenseful, daring, and filled with hints of danger, but they also seem even a little bit plausible. They should seem meticulous enough to feel real, even if they're sometimes a bit far-fetched in practice, and they let the audience feel as though they are bypassing the system and breaking the rules with the characters. Sure enough, the underrated Die Hard with a Vengeance features a particularly well-crafted heist, one that ultimately attracted the attention of the FBI. It's not every day that a heist found in a movie makes the FBI change their security protocols, but that happened with this bank heist in this Bruce Willis sequel. In a roundabout way, that must be a hell of a compliment for the film's screenwriter.
What Happened During The Bank Heist Scene?
In the film, the central villain (played by Jeremy Irons) and his team are disguised as a subway car repair workers and they go through the New York City Water Tunnel system in order to make their way into the Federal Reserve Bank. It contains $140 billion in gold, which is transported in and out of Manhattan through 14 dumpster trucks. By distracting the police and authority figures with a fake terrorist threat, the villains conceived a way to try to sneak out the billions of dollars in gold out of the bank. It seems almost too good to be true, but screenwriter Jonathan Hensleigh did a lot of research to make his screenplay seem as accurate as possible (while not being, you know, completely real). Nevertheless, the script attracted the FBI's notice.
Why Did The FBI Get Involved?
As it was revealed in the commentary track for the Die Hard sequel, and then was reported by Uproxx, screenwriter Jonathan Hensleigh was approached by the FBI as the script was being vetted by authorities in New York. The federal bureau felt that the writer had maybe a little too much information on hand about the Federal Reserve bank, the set of which was designed to be very similar to the actual basement vault. Here's how Hensleigh described his encounter with the FBI. Naturally, since he's the storyteller here, it's probably better to leave it in his own words.
One day I got a call from the FBI. They were extremely concerned about how I knew so much about the Federal Reserve, and how the Federal Reserve’s vaults were really close to a subway spur, and logistically about the aqueduct tunnel, etc ... I said, 'Well guys, the reason why I know what the vault looks like in the Federal Reserve is because they let us down there. They showed it to us. The reason why I know that a subway spur is very close to the vault and that you could actually tunnel through it is because they showed us the plans and the layout. And the reason why I know there is an aqueduct tunnel coming down through Manhattan that you can drives these trucks through is because I read about it in the New York Times Sunday Magazine. So I’m really not employed by Afghani terrorists. I really don’t have any kind of secret proprietary knowledge that I shouldn’t have.'
What Was The Result Of All This?
As he revealed, Jonathan Hensleigh was interrogated by the FBI and at one point, he was genuinely concerned that he was going to be arrested. Ultimately, though, it seems like the FBI was just trying to figure out how the hell he made it seem so plausible, which Hensleigh ultimately took as a compliment. Hensleigh also noted that the FBI guy admitted that he planned to have a meeting to discuss the ways in which the facility could be improved, suggesting that they knew they need to get their guard up if folks like Hensleigh could devise semi-plausible ways for this heist to happen. In any case, this movie came out over 20 years ago, and it is safe to assume that many extra safety precautions are currently in place to make sure a heist like this does not happen in real life.
There you have it. Evidently, not everything you see in the movies is totally unbelievable. The heist in Die Hard with a Vengeance was so well-planned that the FBI took the plot seriously, even reportedly tightening up their security procedures in the process. It is not every day that the FBI considers changing their system thanks to a Die Hard movie, but that's what happened thanks to this sequel. There's a good reason why it's the second best Die Hard.