An unshaven man’s rugged face. He’s looking to his right in the general direction of a tall building. It is on fire, and there’s a helicopter falling from the sky after what appears to be a huge explosion. ‘High above the city of L.A. a team of terrorists has seized a building, taken hostages and declared war. One man has managed to escape… an off-duty cop hiding somewhere inside. He’s alone, tired… and the only chance anyone has got.’ This is the poster to the original DIE HARD movie, positioned in a video rental store somewhere in South Gloucestershire in 1988. On his way to school is an eleven year old boy, and the startled face of Bruce Willis as John McClane on said poster, is the image that catches his eye. It’s one that remains in his head for many months as he awaits to get hold of the film, hoping that one day he’ll walk into that video store and the displayed video title will not display the ‘on loan’ sticker wretchedly perched on top of it.
Yes, that eleven year old boy was me. I can track my movie memory back to that key moment in my young impressionable life, and it’s one of my earliest memories of the movies. DIE HARD was not only the reason I fell in love with film nearly 25 years ago, but also the best bloody film that I have ever seen. I can’t remember the time when that film first entered my video collection, but it did on several occasions throughout the years; on big box ex-rental VHS, on retail VHS, in the ultimate trilogy DIE HARD triple VHS pack, on Laserdisc, on region one DVD, on region two DVD, in the ultimate trilogy DIE HARD DVD collection, on Blu-Ray and now in the ultimate Blu-Ray Quadrilogy collection. That means that I have purchased the same movie on a home format no less than eight times. This is in addition to the version that my Mum recorded off the TV one Christmas before I managed to get my mitts on a proper copy. I love this film, and I’m not alone, and I also know for a fact that I share this passion with many of the other boys and girls who write for these hallowed pages.
For the record, I think DIE HARD 2: DIE HARDER is also a bloody good action movie, and DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE will also have a special little space in my movie heart for the rest of my days, as it was the first DIE HARD that I saw in a movie theatre.
The point of this article? Well, here it is. For the last six years Hollywood has been slowly strangling the movie love of my life, and this last weekend, the final tragic squeeze of pressure was applied, and now…. my love is dead.
DIE HARD 4.0, or if you are from the US, LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD, was just about decent enough on DVD and Blu-Ray after Fox did the right thing and put back in all of the naughty ‘F’ words, but it wasn’t a DIE HARD movie, and now with the release of the fifth film in the series, A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD, the film lives up to its title and dies, and at the same time breaks my heart.
After spending the last few days letting it all seep in, and after dealing with my personal grief, the dust is finally starting to settle. It’s time to breath in and think about how we can perform movie CPR and bring the mighty back to life… how we can make DIE HARD great again.
#1 – The Rating
Fox, I know why you did it. I do. I know why you cut the film for UK audiences. Maximum return; make it accessible to the masses, and to a point I agree with you. Let’s not forget that I was the young impressionable eleven year old that the original film appealed to back on that sodden Gloucester street back in the eighties, but that was a very, very different film. The character of John McClane, let’s face it, HAS to swear. He does say ‘fuck’, ‘shit’, and ‘motherfucker’… his catchphrase is ‘Yippee-Ki-Yay MOTHERFUCKER,’ which you cannot say in a 12A in the UK. It’s like going to a London musical and not being allowed to dance; it’s like DIRTY DANCING without the lift; it’s like watching a naughty blu-ey without the cum-shot; it’s like DIE HARD without John McClane.
The next one – NO CUTS, 15 BBFC rating minimum and let McClane’s potty mouth run riot.
Also, on a side note, if you advertise this in the trailer…
…make sure it makes it into the movie. This was also trimmed down for the UK cut of AGDTDH.
#2 – Back To Basics
The original movie’s plot could have been written on the back of a stamp. Cop stuck in building which has been taken over by terrorists. He has to save the day. It’s cowboys and Indians. That’s it. What’s followed in every film since are a series of stories that just keep getting more and more complicated. While I agree that we don’t want to see another rehashed DIE HARD, I do believe that we’ve come so far away from what the filmmakers and novelist Roderick Thorp were trying to say in the original story, that we’ve lost the spirit and essence of a DIE HARD film altogether. Adapt another novel, or existing script that has a basic premise that could be a DIE HARD… whatever… just do it!
#3 – Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow
The first two DIE HARD movies were set at Christmas. The third was set during a hot New York Summer, and the opening track ‘Summer In The City’ by the Lovin’ Spoonful told us this. Personally, I believe that a DIE HARD movie NEEDS to be set at Christmas, but at all costs we need to avoid the gratuitous nods to the original movie and its first sequel. Set it at Christmas, avoid the quirky ‘same shit, same guy, same time of year’ stuff and let’s get it done. I’m not sure how, but let’s get it done. This brings me on to my next point nicely.
#4 – Let A Fan Write The Next One
It’s kind of obvious, but I thought I’d include it anyway. There must be a million writer/directors working in Hollywood who love this movie franchise, and are willing to take it on. There has to be a J.J. Abrams of the action world. Go after them. Get them in a room. See who shares the passion, the ideas and give them a punt at it.
#5 – Bruce. Let it go.
There is nobody else who can play John McClane. We know this, Bruce Willis knows this, and the studio knows this. That’s why Bruce has so much of a say in the story development of the film, who gets involved talent wise, and how it’s put up there onto the screen. Bruce, you have to let it go. Sure, get involved with the people who are assembled to deliver the film, but choose right and then leave them to it. Just turn up on the set as John McClane, and then go home and forget about it until the next day. Repeat until wrap. I love you man, but I think we need to give this puppy a major shot in the arm.
#6 The Kids John, Something’s Gotta Be Done About Your Kids
Get rid of them. I don’t care about them. I watch a DIE HARD movie for John McClane. Not his kids. Get shot of them. However…
#7 – Holly
Bring her back instead. Bonnie Bedelia is still knocking about on US TV show PARENTHOOD, and we all know that John has a soft spot for the ex-wife. So let’s marry those two facts up and bring Holly back into the mix to really fuck up John’s head. She was a key factor in the original and DIE HARD 2, but then she just went away. She was mentioned in the third when John was getting pissed day and night, but we’ve heard little from her since. Her very being tortures the man, and in some way we have to work her and that fact back into the movies, but again, we have to do it right. Agreed?
# 8 – More Characters Like This…
#9 – And Less Like This…
#10 – Grow Back The Barnet
Bruce had hair in the first three DIE HARD movies. The last two he had a shaved head. The first three were decent. The last two were shit. Gotta be the hair.
#11 – Better Villain
Hans Gruber is arguably the greatest action movie villain of all time, and a solid villain is the key to a great action movie. The bad guy has to get under the skin of the hero and vice versa. The last two DIE HARD movies have had shite villains, and thus we have had two shite movies delivered. Get a bloody strong seasoned actor in the role (preferably British), and do NOT make them psychopaths. Gruber wasn’t; he was just a thief.
#12 – Be Funny
We don’t want to laugh at DIE HARD, we want to laugh with it. Let’s let McClane take centre stage and concentrate on him and not on a son who could have (God forbid) the franchise handed over to him. Let’s let the character be the character, and not indulge in anything that makes the focus detract from him.
#13 – Cut the CGI-crap
All of the stunts in the original movie were pretty much captured live on set; there was no CGI at all that I can remember. John Moore looks like he took a massive CGI crap on A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD. The car chase in the latest film was okay, although it went on for a third of the movie, but everything else was 100% CGI. We want real action for a real hero sprinkled nicely throughout.
Any ideas folks? Hit the comments section down below. Love to hear your thoughts on these points and the latest DIE HARD movie.
A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD is playing in UK and US cinemas now.