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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.
When I was a kid in high school and while sitting in the amphitheater for school assembly, I use to imagine the school was getting attacked by terrorists and it was up to me to save the day.
I remember how I would do it and the small spaces I would climb through and the ledges I would jump off to get to my position of advantage to take out the bad guys, one by one.
I can’t recall whether these daydreams started before or after I had seen Die Hard for the first time. Most likely before as Die Hard came out when I was in year 11 and I am sure I had rescued the school and all of the teachers and students a hundred times before then.
It was definitely before Sean Astin saved his school from terrorists in 1991’s Toy Soldiers, which is well before he became a hobbit. I still think that the producers of that movie tapped into my daydreams and stole my idea, though I didn’t have Louis Gossett Jr. in my daydreams which is a shame because he was so cool back in the ’80s and ’90s.
So back to reality and fortunately or unfortunately, depending on which side of the fence you’re on, I have never had to face off against terrorists and save the day. I did once chase down a bag snatcher which you can read about here, but other than that, my heroic days have been few and far between.
I wonder though what I would do in such circumstances. Have I seen too many movies where the good guys win and save the day? Does this really happen in real life? How many reports do we see on the news where the day hasn’t been saved?
The attacks on 9/11 and Bali prove that sometimes terrorists get what they want and even if John McClane or Casey Ryback or Jack Bauer were real and available they probably would have been able to do bugger all about it.
Yet we do hear of good news stories where terrorists do get stopped but it is generally by the agencies responsible for keeping us safe. The Mosman Bomb Threat is one recent example even though it was only an act of terrorism against one person.
I would like to think that if there was no one else specialised to do it, that I would stand up and fight against anyone trying to cause harm against my fellow man. Perhaps if more people stood up and said no to crime, the world might be a little better place to live in.
Luckily terrorism in my neck of the woods is rare and we live in relative peace in Australia. We have criminals, as does every society, but I think the major crime saving days will still be on the big screen with the score conducted by James Horner or Hans Zimmer and the credits roll at the end.
I’m not ready to prove that what I think is a reality of me saving the day in my mind is actually a one-way ticket to that giant big fluffy cloud in the sky with my last thought being, “you dickhead, did you really think you could make a difference, did you?!”
But if that day comes though, I will try and make that difference. For now, I’m quite content to daydream about it.
What about you. Did you ever daydream of battling terrorists at school or have you had these daydreams as an adult? Would love to hear from you.