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It IS A Good Day to Die Hard

die hard 5

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.

I Remember – 9/11

On September 11, 2001, the world lost its innocence when terrorists crashed hijacked airplanes into The World Trade Centre, The Pentagon and into a field in Pennsylvania.

This is my story of where I was and what I was doing when I first heard the news.

I was living in Sydney.  It was around about 11pm and I was preparing to go bed when my best friend Dave called me and told me that an airplane had crashed into the World Trade Centre in New York.  I didn’t even know what the World Trade Centre was.

I turned on the television and was confronted with both buildings on fire with smoke billowing out of each building.  The reporters were explaining that terrorists had crashed commercial airliners in each building.

Images of people crying and watching in horror at the scene unfolding before them occupied the screen.

My mother was staying with us at the time and she had just gone to bed.  I decided pretty quickly that this was the biggest story in the world for the last 50 years so I woke her as I felt she would want to be watching this event as it unfolded.  I tried waking my wife but she was too tired and couldn’t be stirred with some gentle persuasion.  She slept through the night.

Reports were saying that there was another aircraft uncontactable and another hijacking was possibly taking place.  I remember thinking that this is just the media sensationalising an already sensational event.  Not long afterwards the news feed from the US was showing an explosion at the Pentagon which ended up being one of the hijacked planes reported not long before.

Then images I thought I would never see in my life filled my screen.  At first I couldn’t believe that people were jumping from the buildings.  I remember thinking why the hell would someone jump from a 110 story building.  What terror were they experiencing to not even wait for rescue?  What were the conditions like in the bulding that they would rather jump to a certain death?

It was heart wrenching.

Not long after, one of the buildings appeared to be getting swallowed up in a dust cloud.  I said to my mum that it’s collapsing.  She said that it couldn’t be.  Within seconds it was confirmed on live TV.  One of the buildings was collapsing, floor by floor and in no time at all the building had completely collapsed and all that was left was a dust cloud and a pile of rubble.

The images of people running and screaming from the collapsing building are permanently imprinted in my mind.  I’ll never forget it.  Their looks of anguish and horror and uncertainty.  These people on the streets didn’t know what was happening.  They weren’t watching the news like we were.  Most wouldn’t have known that this was a terrorist attack.  They were running for their lives, uncertain that their next step could be their last. They weren’t running from the buildings.  They were running to their future.

During the first hour or so of watching this destruction I was on the phone talking to family and friends, sharing our fears about what was going on.  Fearing for those still in the buildings and acknowledging those who had died.  Talking about what must be going through the minds of the people on the planes as they smashed into the buildings and for those who saw the planes coming their way.

Then the second building collapsed in the same way the first had done earlier.  New York was now a war zone.  A huge pillar of smoke and dust and grit covered the iconic city.

People were covered in dust.  They looked like they were from an alien planet.  Some were injured.  Most were simply scared.

Then news came through that a plane had crashed into a field in Pennsylvania.  At the time we didn’t know if it was connected or not but it had to be.  As history tells us, the passengers on this plane fought back against its hijackers and paid the ultimate price but they saved thousands of lives in the process.

I eventually went to bed around 3am.  I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer but watching this historic event unfold was too important to miss.  The replays of the planes smashing into the World Trade Centre had been permanently seared into my brain.  Even nine years on, as I write this article, I can still see each image as though it was being replayed in front of me.  It is something I will never forget.

I woke at 6am after a few hours of shut eye and went straight to the TV for the latest news.  Hoping that there were no more hijackings.  Luckily there wasn’t.  I woke my wife and told her what had been happening.  She was shocked and appalled at the news.

The next few weeks all anyone could talk about was the tragic events of 9/11.  The images of George W Bush when he was first told while reading at a school.  Mayor Rudi Gulliani fronting the press each day.  The scene of the firefighters hoisting the American flag amongst the rubble.  The pride of the Americans for their firefighters, when so many of them and many police officers died in the line of duty trying to save those in the buildings. 

These are images I will never forget.

The thing to remember from this is that while almost 3,000 people died in the 9/11 attacks, thousands more have died since in the War on Terror, both those from the Coalition of the Willing lead by America, Britain and Australia but also those Iraqi’s and Afghan’s who have died as well.

Australia has lost 21 diggers in the war in Afghanistan including Lance Corporal Jared MacKinney who died last month.  His funeral was held yesterday in Brisbane and on the same day, his wife gave birth to their son.  A son, that Lance Corportal Jared MacKinney will never see.

The impact of the attacks on 9/11 will be felt for many generations to come.  I will never forget and I would like to dedicate this post to not only the people who died on that day, but to all those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice since then and for those who will unfortunately pay that price in the future.  My heart goes out to your family and friends as well.

Thank you.

Do you remember where you were when you first found out?  What did you do that day/night?  What were your initial thoughts?