Tag Archives: John McClane

A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)

“You know what I hate about the Americans? Everything. Especially cowboys.”

Cast: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch

die hard 5He’s back. Again. And after the last instalment, the bad reviews and my already dwindling hopes, A Good Day to Die Hard was going to have to give its all to get me back on side.

This time we are dealing with John McClane and his son, Jack, who seems to be getting into a lot of trouble in Russia. When McClane travels over there to re-establish his relationship with his wayward son, he discovers Jack is actually working for the CIA and in the process of trying to prevent a nuclear weapons heist. And so the film follows as a classic father-and-son-against-the-world type battle, as McClane and his boy fight against the baddies.

However, with numerous cringy scenes, wannabe action heroes, unnecessarily censored clips and predictable plot sequences, A Good Day to Die Hard made me die a little inside.

Well there is no other way to put this, Bruce Willis needs to realise his time being John McClane has long passed, and if Die Hard 4.0 didn’t show him that, we can only pray that this instalment did. Like I said previously, he is a mere shadow of who we once knew as John McClane, censored and conformed to fit within certain regulations. These changes have come about just so the film can be watched by the widest audience and just so the franchise can squeeze out even more money, meaning that this man who graced our screens as the epitome of action heroes, is no more. It has cheapened the qualities that made Die Hard so likeable in the first place and is a sacrifice that can’t be forgiven.

Willis is getting old and he needs to leave McClane behind now, while he still kicks ass it doesn’t look as easy or ‘normal’ (if you can call it that) anymore, fairly reminiscent of Stallone toward the end of the Rocky franchise. Jai Courtney, who portrays Jack, is quite a generic ‘bad boy’ character. He was nothing special in the role and it wasn’t all that memorable. In fact when I think back about his portrayal, all I can remember are these horrible back and forth exchanges with Willis and I don’t know if they were meant to be cute, funny, endearing or what, but I really didn’t like them.

The main element the film was lacking is an obvious bad guy. Previously we have had someone to label the antagonist, and we’ve seen McClane fight to take him down. With no one we can really identify as the baddie, we don’t really know who we are rooting for McClane to defeat. While this is because the film decides to throw in a few twists here and then, it doesn’t fit with the repeatedly successful formula Die Hards 1, 2 and 3 followed.

The big explosions, dangerous car chases and questionable action scenes were still in abundance though, and while it feels more contrived than previous instalments, it is still enjoyable to watch. There were a lot of desperate scenes too, almost as though the film was trying to be what Die Hard once was. Clever, witty and at times, quite comedic, underpinning an action heavy, gun riddled, classic shoot out between the good guys and the bas guys, but Die Hard 5 just doesn’t cut it.

All in all, A Good Day to Die Hard was terrible, there is no other way of really saying it, and I’m certainly not about to sugar coat it. Compared to the other films in the franchise, it’s really disappointing and along with Die Hard 4.0, they should be put in a box, never to be watched in accordance with the others. My advice, just stop after number 3.

Star rating:  4/10

Directed by John Moore.

Running time 97 minutes.

Die Hard 4.0: Live Free or Die Hard (2007)

“Wow, I know that tone. It’s just weird hearing it come from someone… with hair.”

Cast: Bruce Willis, Justin Long, Timothy Olyphant

Die-Hard-4It’s 12 years after we last saw John McClane on our screens saving the day, and how things have changed. Die Hard 4.0, or Live Free or Die Hard as it’s also known, feels very different to the previous films in the franchise. With a plot more reflective of modern society, which is rather inevitable, the Die Hard franchise has been completely refurbished.

When an online terrorist organisation starts systematically shutting down the United States, McClane is asked to go and pick up young computer hacker Matt Farrell and bring him in for questioning. Arriving at Matt’s flat, McClane finds himself at the end of a lot of gun fire, someone obviously wanting this guy dead. Barely escaping with their lives, McClane and Matt make their way back to the station.

Die Hard 4.0 follows McClane and Matt as they try to locate the Internet-based terrorists and shut them down before they completely close all online and technological aspects of the United States, which would send America ‘back to the stone age’, apparently.

No white tank top, no hair and no cigarettes, who is this man we once knew as John McClane? Bruce Willis has reprised his role of McClane most probably as a way to cash in, lets be honest. With the new glossy tone and somewhat censored action sequences, Die Hard 4.0 doesn’t feel like a Die Hard movie at all. Where are the gritty scenes that encompassed the first three films? And when your main character, who is known for saying one line and one line only, isn’t allowed to say it fully due to the film’s certification, there is no way it can be classed as a Die Hard film: “Yippi-ki yay mo-” just doesn’t do the trick.

Nope, John McClane isn’t the guy he once was. Another thing seriously letting down the film was the main bad guy, Thomas Gabriel, played by the most monotonous actor ever, Timothy Olyphant. Compared to the likes of Hans Gruber, Gabriel just seems to be an annoying man who is a bit bored. There is no real motivation or evil within him, and it makes the whole movie feel a bit flat in the good vs bad department. Even when he has McClanes daughter in his hands, the worst he does is give her a little slap. Pathetic!

As with the previous Die Hard films though, Live Free or Die Hard doesn’t fail to match their inclusion of slightly out-there and questionable scenes, however it does seem to tip it into a degree of ridiculousness. Two scenes in particular spring to mind – one involving a massive truck, and the other a helicopter and our very own Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Die Hard 4.0 is a real let down and doesn’t really deserve to be part of the franchise we have all grown to love. With John McClane now an old man, and the original aspects that made the films so loveable a mere memory, it would seem this was a last ditch attempt at squeezing out as much money as possible from the franchise. Unfortunately, someone thought this was a good idea and what we have is a very poor excuse of a Die Hard film.

Star rating:   5/10

Directed by Len Wiseman.

Running time 128 minutes.

Die Hard: With A Vengeance (1995)

“Said Simple Simon to the pieman going to the fair, ‘Give me your pies… or I’ll cave your head in.'”

Cast: Bruce Willis, Jeremy Irons, Samuel L. Jackson

Die-Hard-3For once, it ain’t Christmas. However we still have John McClane to save the day and I guess that’s all that matters. As an added bonus Samuel L. Jackson has been enrolled to beat the baddies too, and oh what a team these two make.

When yet another terrorist puts the lives of thousands of people at risk, this time by placing bombs around New York City, John McClane and Zeus Carver must play a deadly game of ‘Simon Says’ to diffuse them before they go off.

I really liked Die Hard With a Vengeance, and I would go as far to say I liked it more than Die Hard 2. What I will also say is that this is probably because John McTiernan – who directed the first Die Hard (but not the second) – is back in the directors chair.

Bruce Willis is back in the shoes of his most favoured character for the third instalment of the franchise, and with 5 years separating this and Die Hard 2, it was nice to see that Willis could revive McClane so effortlessly. Teamed with his tank top, his gun and much fewer cigarettes than last time, McClane jumps back to being the star of the show. Along with Willis we also have another protagonist to root for, Samuel L. Jackson. Acting as McClane’s sidekick, Jackson is great as Zeus. In some ways he has been cast in the role of a very stereotypical black man, yet he still really manages to get to the roots of this character and act on behalf of our amazement at some of the things McClane does. He also has the ability to make his role funny and entertaining to watch, which is great as there has always been elements of comedy within the Die Hard franchise.

The bromance between John and Zeus is probably one of the first major man-friendships to grace the big screen and has become very well known. There are no doubts as to why is was so well received throughout audiences either as the writing was top notch. Like previous Die Hard’s the script is full of action, pace and drama. With our dynamic duo having to solve riddles against the clock too, there is a big amount of pressure added to the film.

Die Hard With a Vengeance is my second favourite of the franchise, and I think that’s mainly due to McTiernan getting us back to the McClane way of doing things. With more explosions, memorable one-liners, chase scenes, tense moments and gun battles than before, the third instalment of Die Hard is very reminiscent of the first.

Star rating:   8/10

Directed by John McTiernan.

Running time 131 minutes.

Die Hard (1988)

“Hey babe, I negotiate million dollar deals for breakfast. I think I can handle this Eurotrash.”

Cast: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia

die-hard-posterOn a surprise trip to see his estranged wife in LA, John McClane crashes her work Chritsmas party only to find himself caught up in a terrorist attack, fronted by Hans Gruber and his heavily armoured gang. Managing to slip away from those taken hostage, McClane takes it upon himself to save the day, working his way around the building one man at a time.

Die Hard is Bruce Willis’ best movie to date, there’s no doubt about it. It’s the one he is most known for and has spawned an impressive 4 sequels so far. It’s the epitome of all ‘good cop saves the day’ films out there and even goes as far as to top some favourite Christmas film lists.

Firstly the casting choice of our protagonist was brilliant. Bruce Willis as John McClane couldn’t have been a better fit. This cheeky, loving, hardened ‘good cop’ seems to encompass Willis’ characteristics very well. He looks the part and sounds the part. Alan Rickman as sleazy German terrorist Gruber was great too, his creepy appearance made for a more interesting criminal and the only thing to make him seem more convincing would have been a good German accent. His gang of baddies were also well played, each character being explored just enough to show us that you wouldn’t want to mess with any of them.

The simple and classic formula that the storyline follows is just another element that secures Die Hard as such a good film. It’s a very straight-forward tale that sees a good cop swoop in to an unsettled scene and save the day. With it being so simple too, it allowed for the script to be packed full of action and suspense, with a few laughs chucked in for good measure. The pace at which Die Hard continually moves is enough to keep the audience in a constant state of intrigue too. With this mixture of comedy, drama and thriller, we are given a good selection of genres to sink our teeth into, making it very accessible for a variety of audiences.

The only bad things I could pick out from two hours in front of the screen were Alan Rickman’s German accent, and the plausibility of some of the more explosive scenes. Apart from this though, which are pretty minor in the grand scheme of things, it’s all good.

Die Hard is a bloody brilliant film that everyone needs to see. Willis is superb as John McClane and the story is so simple, it works without a hitch. Whether you’re watching it at Christmas or throughout the year, it will never fail to impress with what constitutes a fantastic film.

Yippee-ki-yay, motherfuckers!

Star rating:  9/10

Directed by John McTiernan.

Running time 131 minutes.