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If you go to see A Good Day to Die Hard, the 5th instalment in the Die Hard franchise, don’t expect to see a typical Die Hard movie.
But firstly, what is a typical Die Hard movie?
When people think, Die Hard, they think of an ordinary guy, trapped in an impossible situation, armed only with his wit and determination not to die. Sure. 25 years ago when John McClane was trapped in a building alone and up against 30 terrorists. The only conduit to the outside world he has is via a CB radio to Sgt Al Powell, who’s out on the street. He saves the day as we all know and the credits roll to Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow.
The sequel, just 2 years later, escalates with McClane once again in the wrong place at the wrong time. He is mostly solo but has a little help from an airport orderly and a reluctant airport police commander in trying to save his wife’s plane as it heads to Washington DC. Armed again with his customary one liners, he once again saves the day.
In the third instalment, Die Hard with a Vengeance, McClane is this time in the middle of the action, but not by accident but by invitation from another Gruber. Other than the opening challenge, set by Simon, McClane is joined by a sidekick in the form of Samuel L Jackson, who assists him in saving New York.
In Live Free or Die Hard or Die Hard 4.0, he has another reluctant sidekick in the form of Justin Long and then in the newest film, A Good Day to Die Hard he is joined by his estranged son, Jack.
See a pattern here? I’ll help you out. McClane in each movie since the original and most of the Die Hard 2, hasn’t been solo. The last three films he has had a companion throughout the movie. He has also become somewhat superhuman, surviving a flooded aqua dock and exploding ship, an attack from an F35 Jet after surfing on the tail of the same jet, and being flung around by a helicopter in the newest film. Sure he dangled from a fire hose in Die Hard and ejected out of an exploding military cargo plane in the second, but both are plausible and not that far fetched. However the stunts have been getting bigger and more unbelievable. Nothing about the sequels equals the same feel as Die Hard and to a lesser extent Die Hard 2.
During the 25 years he’s been a cop, don’t you think that John McClane has also grown and become more skilful and cunning in what he does? If the original John McClane tried to fight the Russians in A Good Day to Die Hard, he probably would have been eaten up and spat out in the opening gun battle. But as with anyone, he’s 25 years older, smarter and wiser.
This isn’t James Bond who replace the actors every 5th movie or so. This is Bruce Willis who coincidentally is getting old too, just like John McClane. Therefore not only is the actor ageing but so is the character. With ageing comes growth. With growth comes new skills and emotions and new ways of doing things.
I don’t go to each new Die Hard expecting to see the same movie or get the same feel as the original. I go expecting to see a kick ass action movie with plenty of explosions, gun fight, one liners and great villains. And when it comes to the villains, I never expect to see Hans Gruber again. He was an extraordinary bad guy, played by Alan Rickman. If each bad guy wore John Williams suits and spoke so well, then maybe but he really was one of a kind.
So my advice when going and seeing A Good Day to Die Hard is to sit back and enjoy it for what it is. A whole different movie to the original but with the same John McClane wit and never say die attitude.
I loved it and so has everyone else in my family full of McClanes.
4 out of 5 stars.