On Twitter: @JamesEppler
I recently re-watched the first "Die Hard" with my dad, which reminded me of the first time we watched it together all those years ago. It wasn't just a game-changer for action movies - it was the first time I'd seen really brutal violence on screen, so it holds a special place in my man-parts.
But it dismays me to see Bruce Willis returning for a fifth time to play John McClane in a series that has become a neutered dog version of its former self. This first image from the set of the new movie, eye-rollingly titled "A Good Day to Die Hard," features a glossy shot of Willis as McClane and Jai Courtney as John McClane Jr. They're a father-son team fighting forces in Russia (?!)
Entertainment Weekly has the shot:
I always liked McClane best when he smoked, cursed, and worked on his own.
Some of that started to change in the third film, 1995's "Die Hard with a Vengeance," where Willis was paired with Samuel L. Jackson. But in fact, that wasn't originally intended to be a "Die Hard" movie. The original script was called "Simon Says," but re-writes were done to tie it into the "Die Hard" series. It turns out to be my second-favorite installment in the series, with fun back-and-forth between Willis and Jackson.
Twelve years later, we saw "Live Free or Die Hard," a sequel that felt like the product of numerous focus groups. As directed by Len Wiseman, the movie looks glossy and glamorous instead of raw and gritty. The computer hacker bad guys are meant to make the series feel more timely. McClane quit smoking because it's not PC. The subtle brutality of walking across broken glass isn't impressive enough, so McClane takes on a fighter jet with an 18-wheeler. And all of it was watered down to PG-13 for mass consumption.
We're not sure what takes John McClane to Russia for the fifth movie, why he's working with his son, or whether the film will return the series to its R-rated level of violence and naughty language.
But something about that picture above just gives me a sinking feeling in my gut.
Hans Gruber couldn't kill John McClane. Neither could his brother. But we can if we have to.
I hope I'm wrong - maybe it'll be great.