This year has marked the 25th anniversary of the blue collar, all-American hero John McClane (Bruce Willis – too old for the iconic vest), so it’s only right that ‘A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD’ was released in cinemas. Directed by John Moore, the film tells the story of John McClane travelling to Russia to find his son Jack (Jai Courtney), in a spot of bother. However what seems to have gone in this instalment is the classic ‘Die Hard’ aesthetic to the plot, something which even the fourth instalment hand. Gone has the whole ‘get behind the hero, who’s in the wrong place at the wrong time’, but more some weird 007 plot (scripted here by the dodgy CV’ed Skip Wood) about nuclear weapons in Chernobyl. Also gone is producer Steven E. De Souza, who too many was seen as the lifeblood of the franchise.
I think the biggest issue is the fact that what made the series so compelling and unforgettable (particularly the first one back 25 years ago) is ether corrupted or simply ignored. John McClane, instead of being a victim of circumstance like in the original film, now just happen to stumble into extraordinary situations at virtually every turn. There is also a limp, flavourless villain and a cast of supporting characters whose colorfullness rarely registers above beige. While Courtney tries his best with what he’s been given, Willis just looks bemused throughout. In some scenes it look like he wants to act, while in others he does that token, stand there with a gun in his hand look. I think this biggest issue with John McClane though, is how he is very much invincible. This is something which started in the fourth instalment, taking a Stealth Bomber down, but now he doesn’t seem to get a sense of being threatened (even when caught) by the baddies, nor any sense of him really getting killed, since he can seem to do more than that of Superman (he can even survive breathing in radiation). And this is the shame, that what John McClane was the embodiment of. He was the working man, the blue collar hero fighting capitalism what you got behind, and felt like you could take a punch for. I do give it that there is a certain vibe to the deaths here (even if shaky and CG blooded), and the 75 days shoot car chase isn’t bad, even though no one gives a crap about the amount of innocent people killed.
This also adds the question about how a film started out in exploitation, now has its studio of Fox having to ask how they would cut the cinema realise of the film to the BBFC so it would make a ‘12a’ then that of a ‘15’. Something which not only gave it horrible cut and paste editing, but also the change in times about the distributor being the ones asking to cut it rather than that of the BBFC. Fortunately though, to bring you these thoughts I saw the ‘15’ cut.