Now as a preamble, I love the Die Hard franchise. I love it. I saw the 4th and 5th the day they came out (as a matter of fact I saw the most recent one the day before when certain theaters were doing that weird early screening). And they’re ridiculous. I know. Live Free or Die Hard is a blatant popcorn movie, but due to stellar use of “Fortunate Son” by CCR and Justin Long, it’s my favorite of the series (and I was a film student…a sad state of affairs. I mean, at least the original had good story structure). The newest Die Hard movie, and it pains me to say this, was simply not good. Below are a list of the five main reasons the newest Die Hard movie fails as a Die Hard movie (and I avoid the pop culture use of the word “fail,” but it’s the only appropriate term in this case).
1.) The film was set outside the U.S. In Moscow to be exact. This was really the biggest problem I had with the movie. When you set a Die Hard movie in the U.S. and all the terrorists are on our land, blowing up our crap, McClane is somewhat vindicated of his violent actions (and in the 4th movie it was American on American brutality, so who cares). However, when you reverse the situation, and we are on foreign ground, blowing their crap up, it makes us (or John and co.) the terrorists. I found myself cringing as “the heroes” drove armored trucks over innocent pedestrian cars and blew up Russian places of business.
2.) Not feeling the Chemistry. A lot of this movie was banking on us caring about John’s son, John Jr. (already missing an opportunity to make Indiana Jones references) and being invested in mending the father-son relationship. I really didn’t care. I thought it might be the fact that it was a new character, but his daughter was introduced in the last movie and I liked her. And the Matt character. And most side-kickish characters from the previous films, so I’ve just chocked it up to chemistry. Some actors work better with each other than others, and the chemistry between Willis and this Jai Courtney guy just fell flat for me. And consequently, I did not care about their relationship. Leave him, John. Go back to America and deal with the bad guys there. You could also argue who the real protagonist is in the film, John or John Jr. (which is another problem, I don’t want a movie about McClane’s son, I want a Movie about McClane).
3.) There were only 7 explosions…my friend counted. And we’ve now reached the portion of the blog where I whine about the menial stuff. The fact that the filmmakers are cashing in on a popcorn flick when they make a Die Hard movie nowadays means that I want nonsensical detonations in every scene. The answer to every obstacle in a Die Hard movie? Blow it up. Now this may come off as a tad hypocritical, considering my first comment, but if you’re gonna go all Michael Bay on Russia THEN GO ALL MICHAEL BAY ON RUSSIA!
4.) Not enough swearing, motherfucker! I know, I know. It sounds petty and maybe it is, but let me explain where I’m coming from. Live Free or Die Hard was given a PG-13 rating. This was presumably a rating they were conscious of trying to achieve. Now there was quite a bit of “shit” flying around, but the f-bomb was only dropped for McClane’s catchphrase. On top of that it was said as a gunshot went off, muffling the offensive word in the phrase, and as I understand it, it was tricky to get the rating with that line included. A Good Day to Die Hard is rated R. To hell with getting the teenage crowds, they were going all the way. And yet, instead of the Tarantino-ilk cursing I was expecting, I was greeted with a rather lackluster flurry of obscenities every half hour or so. Worse still, McClane’s catchphrase was used almost as a throwaway line. It was there, because it had to be, but was used in an inappropriate place. He’s supposed to say it to the main bad guy, not talking to himself as he scrabbles around an empty compartment of a helicopter.
5.) What was the point of that? Honestly there was just nothing about this installment that stood out. It was boring and by the end I didn’t feel as though anything had been resolved. Yeah, McClane and his son were speaking to each other, but as we’d never met Jr. before, it didn’t feel like anything had been accomplished, nor did I leave the theater in a particularly good mood, having gotten my fill of explosions and swear words. Just blah.
Willis was entertaining at times and I’ll still need to buy the DVD to maintain a complete collection, but it just wasn’t…anything. And for that reason I want another Die Hard movie so we don’t end the franchise on such a low note.