Review: A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD is Dead on Arrival

James Marsh, Asian Editor
Bruce Willis revisits old school New York City cop John McClane for a fifth time, teaming up with his son in Moscow to battle some evil Russian terrorists, but the results are far from satisfying.

It's a depressing time for old school Action Cinema in Hollywood right now, with comic book adaptations and superhero flicks scoring big at the box office, and no new generation of beefcake action stars making it into the A-list. Sylvester Stallone's Expendables franchise has only highlighted this point even further, that action stars who could open a film on their name alone - Schwarzenegger, Willis, Stallone himself - simply don't exist right now (with the possible exception of Jason Statham), meaning these old-timers still get the financing to dust off their tried and tested franchises of yesteryear time and time again. At 57, Willis is the youngest of these three by almost a decade, and with films like G.I. Joe: Retaliation and Red 2 on the way, he shows no sign of quitting. Fans of the Die Hard franchise voted with their cash in 2007 that they are still happy to see John McClane kicking terrorist butt all over town. Live Free or Die Hard was a huge hit, and we all know that if that was anyone other than Willis in the vest the story would likely be very different. But if the fans keep paying, the powers that be would be fools to stop making more. And so we come to A Good Day To Die Hard.

In this latest instalment, Detective John McClane heads to Moscow, hoping to bring back his wayward son, Jack (Jai Courtney), who is due to appear in court, charged with murder. McClane Jr. is in fact working for the CIA, and committed the crime in order to get close to Yuri Komarov (Sebastian Koch), a political prisoner and potential whistle-blower. McClane Sr.'s arrival coincides not only with their court hearing, but also with an attempt on Komarov's life, simultaneously countered by McClane Jr.'s botched efforts to smuggle him out of the country. Within a few minutes of the McClane family reunion, all three of them are being pursued by a heavily-armed gang of terrorists, who are gunning for Komarov, in the hope of retrieving a hidden disc that could incriminate their boss, bent politician Chagarin (Sergei Kolesnikov). 

With John McTiernan's 1988 original now firmly cemented in the minds of at least one generation as the pinnacle of Action Cinema - not to mention new favourite Christmas movie - opinions do vary on which of the sequels truly work. There is strong negativity towards Renny Harlin's 1990 effort, Die Hard 2: Die Harder, but not only does it have the only truly cool title of any of the sequels, I've always found its wintry airport setting, strong supporting cast of special forces operatives, dastardly villains and stubborn antagonists, to be the most compelling film after Die Hard. 1995's Die Hard With a Vengeance has its moments, and there's no denying the chemistry between Willis and Samuel L. Jackson, but here the series abandons its Christmas setting, as well as its confined space, to the point it barely feels like a Die Hard film. Len Wiseman's Live Free or Die Hard takes this even further, expanding the action to the entire Eastern seaboard, partnering McClane's committed luddite with Justin Long's frustratingly young hacker to combat a cyber-terrorist out to hold the country to ransom. On its own terms it works to some degree, but it no longer has anything in common with the first film. These problems are only exacerbated further in A Good Day to Die Hard.

As we look back over the series, McClane's character has devolved almost beyond recognition. In the first film he's just a regular guy forced to mingle with successful businessmen and refined Europeans, who sport John Phillips suits and tertiary educations. By the fourth film, McClane is forced to embrace the concept that the world has changed while he was hung-over, and his old school methods won't be enough to save the day anymore. He appears reluctant to evolve, but by the end is begrudgingly willing to do what needs to be done. In A Good Day to Die Hard, however, John McClane has become a deranged sociopath, incapable of functioning among normal people in the everyday world. He gets frustrated when his daughter (Mary Elisabeth Winstead) lectures him not to make trouble while in Moscow, and for a moment we are on his side, knowing his healthy disregard for authority is almost definitely going to stir things up. But no sooner has he tracked down his son, McClane is stealing cars, screaming at civilians, demolishing buildings, freeways and other vehicles, without any information regarding who he's chasing or who is shooting at him. When he does eventually catch up with Jack, it comes as no surprise that his son wants nothing to do with him, and is prepared to stick a gun in his face rather than let him help. McClane is unrecognisable from the loveable rogue of 1988, and deserves nothing more than to be committed.

While most of what is wrong with the film can be laid at the feet of scriptwriter Skip Woods (X-Men Origins: Wolverine, The A-Team), from McClane's baffling behaviour, to the illogical plotting, and the wafer thin characterisation, Bruce Willis must also be held accountable. This film would not have existed without his participation, and if he was unhappy with anything on the page, you can guarantee he would get it changed before moving forward. That he was willing to appear on screen ranting and raving like Kevin McCarthy in Invasion of the Body Snatchers is both baffling and disconcerting.

Director John Moore's career to-date has hardly set the world on fire, but he does pretty well for his part here, taking into account the man is primarily a visual stylist who cares little for narrative or characterisation. The grand scale car chase sequence near the beginning of the film looks to be almost entirely practical, and manages to be occasionally thrilling, even while you stare in disbelief that any of it is happening at all. Later on, there's an equally loud and exhilarating high calibre shootout involving a military-grade helicopter firing at a building, while the finale at Chernobyl (yes, that one) is eerily similar to that of the previous film, all spinning airborne vehicles as McClane clings on for dear life. 

The cast can do little to help the mess. I have already mentioned Bruce Willis' reluctance to make McClane coherent or likeable, while Jai Courtney's Jack is too hard-nosed and one dimensional to be a replacement affable hero. German actor Sebastian Koch, best-known for his roles in The Lives of Others and Paul Verhoeven's Black Book, can offer only brief glimmers of his talent, as Woods and Moore give him nothing to work with and a flimsy character arc. Radivoje Bukvic and Yuliya Snigir play the young, sexy villains, but again, get to do little more than posture, fire automatic weapons and snarl for the camera. Bukvic is gifted one brisk speech about his desire to be a dancer, but the moment grates horribly - a clumsy, desperate attempt to add colour to a character who is otherwise conspicuous only as the least-memorable villain of the series.

Where A Good Day to Die Hard really has the opportunity to do something new and interesting is in the central relationship between McClane and his son. They are estranged, there is history, even bad blood between them, but the film is never able to capture a single "real" moment for them to build upon. Jack insists on calling his father by his first name, but it's never explained why, and they spend the rest of the film either screaming at each other to back off or "bonding" over their family's inability to display affection. What should have been the humanistic heart at the centre of all the violence and bloodshed - what has always made Die Hard special in fact - is entirely absent, and the awkwardness of their moments together only underscores how poorly the filmmakers understand the series.

A Good Day to Die Hard is the shortest entry in the series by almost half an hour, but still manages to do more damage to the Die Hard property in 97 minutes than anything else in its 25-year history. Dumb, crass and tedious when its predecessors were smart, witty and entertaining, A Good Day to Die Hard is far and away the worst of the five films, and even with its R rating restored, struggles to entertain as a piece of disposable action entertainment on even the basest of levels. The film isn't just bad, it's embarrassing, and news that there is more yet to come only gives further cause for concern.

A Good Day to Die Hard opened in Hong Kong and Singapore on 7 February, and hits theatres in the USA, UK and most of the rest of the world on 14 February.
Around the Internet:
  • Real bad movie!!
    to much masked advertising (Mercedes everywhere...)

    how did they get from Moscow (Russia) to Pripjat (Ukraine) by car (of course a Mercedes) on the same night, when there are more than 1000km of distance??

  • TheGhostOfGriffinMill

    Should've known: John Moore = fail.

    Saw the DIE HARD marathon yesterday (with my wife who surprised me with tix for us both for V-Day, sweet woman!). When it got to 5 (whatever it's called - I can't even be bothered to scroll up to double-check and sure as hell don't remember), the projectionist had set the wrong aspect ratio, so none of the subtitles came on. Didn't make a bit of difference story-wise and the whole audience just thought it was another crappy choice by the director. Ugh. That said, seeing all five made me appreciate how much better-than-I-remember both DH2 and DHWAV are.

    I do think a lot of my DH2 distaste had/has to do with Renny Harlin's "directing". Even with that mediocre 1080-to-2K-or-whatever-the-hell-conversion they used for the file, seeing DH2 on the big screen right after DIE HARD just made Renny's McTiernan-lite style stand out that much more. The movie itself, though, is a lot better than I remember but you can see the seeds being planted for the runaway train of uber-ridiculousness that would start to follow (granted, the skyscraper jump in DIE HARD is, arguably, every bit as nonsensical as the pilot-seat ejection, but given the craft of that first film, it FEELS believable).

    Biggest surprise for me was how good the first half of that third film is -- hadn't seen it since it came out and remember being greatly disappointed at the time. Everything up to the dump-truck tunnel stuff, though, worked really well for me this time. Maybe I'm getting soft in my old age...

  • Guest

    How does Die Hard: With A Vengeance not fit the theme of the first two and the fourth? The terrorist mastermind knows exactly who John is. Makes a hell of a difference.

  • Guest

    I haven't watched With A Vengeance for years, but at the start of that movie, was it clear that the villain knew who McLaine was? I think the strength of the 1st, 2nd and 4th movies was that he was always the guy that was least expected to foil the terrorists' plans and that he did it mainly without their knowledge of who he was. The 3rd seems to stick out because it's a straight up revenge film. Not saying it's a bad film, it's great, but I think it is different from the rest.

  • Anthony Satterthwaite

    You're right. And it worked so well in the others caus you can tell the villains just did not plan on this average cop taking them down, that's whats so awesome. In die hard 3, you wonder what the hell simon was thinking by actively including mcclane in his plan. Come one, he must know that he'l regret that decision!

  • That's because it was originally written as a Lethal Weapon sequel and reverse engineered to become a Die Hard movie when Gibson didn't want to do it.

  • Scottslovegun

    Die hard 2 is better then with a vengeance!the ending to vengeance is so fucking lame and boring that it made the whole movie a letdown.

  • Nemuri Kyoshiro

    Can anyone confirm that the Live Free or Die Hard in conjunction with the Marathon tomorrow will be uncut/ or theatrical??? Todd got any info on this?

  • Nemuri Kyoshiro

    Holly Gennero, she needs to come back!!

  • MarsHottentot

    The film is written by the same person who committed X-Men Origins: Wolverine on the world. End of story.

  • Joe_HTH

    Hell, Live Free Or Die Hard is easily the best of the Die Hard sequels. It's by far the best reviewed Die Hard film since the original. It's the best shot. It has the best action and stunt sequences. It's also the highest grossing Die Hard film ever. There's only two problems with Live Free Or Die Hard. One, the villain is a bit lame. Two, the studio chopped the film up to get a PG-13 rating. That's why there are so many audio and dialogue glitches. But people shit on this film all because of the PG-13 rating. I've got news. Hearing the word "fuck" every other sentence and seeing blood everywhere is not going to make a film better.

  • joerg.nezmeskal

    Your comment was ment to be sarcastic? At least I hope so.

  • Tygr300

    umm yes it does, haven't you seen the unrated cut?! way better

  • edgar

    So wait, does this guy want every die hard to be in a building? Give them credit for trying to not do the same thing in the same place over and over again?

  • Mark

    I hate the direction the sequels have taken. They get bigger in scope and always team John up with a "Buddy". We got his daughter in the last film, now the Son? Ugh.

  • DrXym

    Ouch. I like Die Harder in its own way more than the original but truth be told I think they're both great. 3rd was pretty good but the pace felt off to me. Fourth was just dumb and it sounds like I won't be watching this one at all until it turns up on DVD.

  • Anthony Satterthwaite

    Die Hard 2 does actually raise the stakes in alot of ways and in some ways is more epic!

  • I viewed LOOPER last night and willing to give Willis a break. Looking forward to the twilight of his carreer.

  • Tom Bellmore

    I think there are several elements that elevate 'With a Vengeance' above 'Die Hard 2'. Let's start with the Sam Jackson/Bruce Willis pairing. From their initial meeting, to having them bicker their way around New York trying to solve Simon's games, the chemistry is so thick between these two you could cut it with a knife. The dynamic of them having to tolerate each other and overcome their differences is truly something that made the whole film.

    Next you have a villain who is easily on par with Alan Rickman. Simon Gruber, Hans' brother, played by none other than Jeremy Irons. My only complaint is that they should have had him appear on the screen much sooner than he did, and not relegate him to telephone conversations for the first act of the movie. There is no memorable villain in the franchise outside of the Gruber brothers, period.

    Let's not also forget that McClane is a New York City cop, and in 'With a Vengeance' he feels like NYPD more than ever. It actually helps to build on the mythology of McClane as a New York cop, getting all roughed up and being in over his head and outmatched. (Willis has always talked about the franchise having some very strict rules rooted in a very specific mythology, which don't include Christmas, saving his wife, or being confined to one building or complex)

    The thing that makes Die Hard work is that the backdrop almost has to be a character in and of itself. Nakatomi Plaza is as much the star of that film as Willis or Rickman or anyone else. Same goes for the airport. But, in 'With a Vegeance', New York has an appropriately gritty and real feel to it; it's so alive with activity during that summer heatwave, with massive bouts of gridlock and bombs going off and the city in a state of panic. Once again, just as with Nakatomi or the airport, McClane is almost trapped and in over his head in a very different way. New York is Simon's playground, much in the same way that Nakatomi was Hans', and the aiport Col. Stuart's (and seriously, William Sadler is memorable as Col. Stuart?? Who the hell even remembers the guys damn name? I sure don't. He's about as memorable as Timothy Olyphant!). McClane is trapped in a deadly game with the brother of Hans Gruber, during one of the roughest patches in his life (marital problems), with the worst hangover of his life.

    How is that not a better premise than that of Die Hard 2?

    Die Hard with a Vegeance is almost the best Die Hard film, but sadly the final act really ruins that (another conversation for another time).

  • Anthony Satterthwaite

    But it really kind of sucked that simons plan was identical to his brothers and that other than stealing gold he didnt do much to make us want him to get defeated (seriously most of the bombs were fake anyway). Considering mcclane dealt with colonel stuart in die hard 2, who was a demon and mass murderer, this was a bit of a step down really....

  • joerg.nezmeskal

    How is that premise not better than that of Die Hard 2? Couse they changed the formula, as written above. No confined space, no christmas setting, no regulars of the series coming back...and let´s be honest the whole plot with the ridiculous "Simon says"-games was just stupid!

  • Excellent knowledge of Die Hard dynamics.

  • Tom Bellmore

    Before everyone here jumps on the James Marsh hate wagon without actually SEEING the film for themselves (*cough*Neal Boren*cough*), I just got back from a screening of "A Good Day to Die Hard" here in Taipei. and I can completely side with this review. This is, by far, the worst film in the franchise.

    John Moore has once again proven that he is incapable of shooting and cutting together a coherent action sequence (this is especially evident in the awful opening car chase). The biggest problem facing this fifth outing for John McClane is that it lacks any of the strong establishing moments that gave the earlier films that "Die Hard tone". Everything is literally slammed together, with some truly inane editing giving us absolutely no time to absorb that this is SUPPOSED to be a film starring the iconic action hero, John McClane.

    Bruce Willis is given a platry helping of dialogue and character moments in the very beginning before he's thrown into Russia and dropped into the middle of chaos that not even the characters themselves seem to understand. The movie is already falling apart when, right at the beginning, John McClane and his son are sent along a frantic and atrociously edited car chase. It's important to note that McClane and his son are in two different cars, and haven't had a single exchange to give us any sense of what their relationship is supposed to be. So the chase literally sees the son trying to escape the bad guys and John trying to catch up because...well, because he wasn't finished talking to his son. There's also some awkwardly placed lines in this chase that just make an even bigger mess of things.

    For a Die Hard movie, the tone of this one is all wrong. John Moore doesn't seem to understand that the mythology of classic action films like Die Hard does NOT include shakey camera cinematography. His directing is amateur, and disctracting. This is assembly-line filmmaking, no doubt about it folks. This is a poorly written, poorly edited, poorly directed film that has almost nothing in common with previous entries in the franchise, save for a few obtuse "homage" sequences that reek of pandering.

    A couple of fun, crowd pleasing moments aside, this isn't the Die Hard you know and love.

    Oh, and Die Hard with a Vengeance IS definitely better than Die Hard 2. It absolutely retains the feel of the classic John McClane and Die Hard mythology. However, if you listen to the audio commentary on the DVD/Blu-ray you'll find that even the filmmakers themselves admit that it's a DEEPLY flawed film, due largely to the fact that they actually had no idea how to end the damn thing. Everyone involved in that one has said that the first hour or so of that film are probably the best the Die Hard franchise has ever been. But then there's a point in which it starts falling apart, and the final act is actually filled with some gaping plot holes and a rather disappointing final confrontation between Simon and John.

  • LetItBurnUSA

    Regarding the ending of DHWAV, I really wish they'd kept that alternate ending where McClane tracks down Simon in Europe after he gets away with the gold. Yes, it made McClane almost a bad guy himself, but it was a ballsy scene that was far better than the lame finale in Canada and would've potentially set up a far more interesting 4th film.

  • Burt

    I have to agree 100% with your take on this movie. I saw an advanced screening and overheard a few people afterwards stating that they thought it was a good movie. I have been waiting for the reviews to trickle in and this one hits dead center. Definitely the worst of the 5, no doubt. I have to blame some of the camera work I perceived on theater projector problems but the direction and definitely the script were not up to par with a Die Hard movie. This could have easily been a stand alone action movie - different characters w/o the Die Hard story line, hell even let Bruce Willis star in it and perhaps my expectations would have been lowered. It's time to either find a director, screenwriter, and supporting cast to do this franchise justice or just let it die (favored route - but I guess it's lingering true to its name). I don't think this will make as much $ as its predecessor, due to word of mouth / negative press which it will probably receive but unfortunately it will probably be enough to warrant another go in a few years.

  • Tygr300

    does it at least work as a action movie? is it a bit enjoyable? i gonna watch it anyway in the hope for a little bit of entertainment, and because i have the tickets already but i guess i don't have high hopes of seeing a bad ass oldschool die hard movie anymore.
    but who am i kidding, bad director=bad movie... it was always like that and it always will be, its a universal law or something

  • You certainly know your history. and i agree with most of what your saying. but Vengeance earned a special place in my heart the second i saw it. "live free" is a rambo/mcclane screw up. and it's not rated R, no way that's a Die Hard movie.

    it doesn't have to be in an enclosed space to be die hard. What die hard was was a combination of character developments and masterful pacing structure double crosses/triple crosses/backup planes/improvisation. I remember seeing the first film in the theater when i was 13 and being floored by the escalating tension and suspense, and the calm demeanor of the lead who didn't seem to mind being outnumbered. that was the best.

    No sequel was ever going to match that movie. "Harder" comes very close because as you pointed out the "Dastardly villain and special operations team raise the stakes." But Vengeance wins by a nose because it reintroduces the grubers and gives the audience one of the most powerful villains to grace the screen since a 007 movie. And Mctiernan didn't jump head long into the action. he allowed the mystery to spin for a good 45 minutes before the villain is even fully realized. Vengeance does what all great sequels do, it expands on the original template and reforms it into a chase movie... Although the reality was "vengeance" was the answer to SPEED. Speed was once the single biggest threat to the DH brand name.

    "Live free" on the other hand is no Die Hard. it might have the name in the title and the star but it's no die hard movie. Die Hard was always a bit cartoon with sequences of blistering mayhem where bodies get shredded or a vehicle is dropped on an unsuspecting villain. but the problem with live free is the villain is weak and kinda boring.

    it's a shame GDTDH isn't up to muster. but the truth is as you very correctly put. "the original is the very pinnacle of action cinema."

  • BelmontHeir

    I can't stand Die Hard 2. McTiernan's films are the only two that count for me.

  • hutch

    Thank gawd I don't care about Hollywood action flicks...wait. Does 'Gleaming the Cube' count?

  • RawBeard

    I have enjoyed all the Die Hard films, even number 4... yeah it's not much a Die Hard film but it still rocks as a Bruce Willis action film

  • Mister Owen

    I'm with James on this one. I never understood why everybody hates "Die Harder" and likes "With A Vengeance" more. "Harder" is a pretty good sequel, the third installment strayed too far from the path for my taste. And while Renny Harlin is no McTiernan, he did a decent job. During his prime, I never liked Harlin that much. And he has to be held accountable for what he did to Friedkin's Excorcist prequel. But in light of what Moore and contemporary so-called "directors" try to pass as action movies, I'd go see a Harlin film any time.

    And on topic: The latest "Die Hard" installment seems to be as expected, with Willis phoning it in. This one, the "Expendables" and similar franchises are undead movies: commercially still viable, but long dead and without soul (although I like that rumor that John Woo might do "Expendables 3").

  • joerg.nezmeskal

    Harlin made some pretty good movies: Die Hard 2, Cliffhanger and The long kiss goodnight. Underrated director in my opinion.

  • hutch

    Ewww. He had his tryout with Hollywood. He got benched for a reason.

  • Mister Owen

    You're right, of course (although I liked that shark movie quite a bit). The point I was trying to make: With the current state of Action Cinema, even a hack like Harlin seems to be less of a bad idea.

  • theghost99

    How big was Cole Hauser screen time in the movie? Is his character ''Collins'' a good guy or a bad guy? Movie sounds awful...-_- but I see it on the 14th and buy the DVD. Die Hard and Die Hard With An Venegance are my Favs in the series.

  • marshy00

    Hauser is an insignificant addition, barely in it long enough to be recognised.

  • Not exactly reeling back in surprise that moore has made another mediocre action film. John mctiernan was the only guy who could make a die hard film worthy of the name.

  • Nemuri Kyoshiro

    They should have stopped after Die Hard 3 to be quite honest.

  • Oldschool1987

    Why?

  • Nemuri Kyoshiro

    Because John McClane isn't James Bond or Rambo or the Terminator... He's just a regular guy who happens to be a cop being in the wrong place at the wrong time.. Stretching the franchise to 3 movies is all you need.More than than 3 is nothing but a cash crab...

  • Nemuri Kyoshiro

    Actually I need to rephrase that statement. In part 1 he was a cop/ part 2 he moved up in rank and became Lt McClane. In part 3, he got his badge suspended but gained it back because of Simon. Part 4, he became Super Cop and can fly a chopper.. My friends we are witnessing the evolution of John McClane- Super Cop and friends!

  • Errr ... assuming that you don't consider the first one a cash grab (which is a hard argument to make as EVERY studio film ever made was made to make a profit) EVERY sequel made since then was made purely to generate further profits based off of the success of the first. You just like the earlier ones better.

  • TheGhostOfGriffinMill

    Todd, isn't there a difference though, between getting a movie made that is far from a sure thing, has been in development since Sinatra was attached and where the producers have just battled the studio to cast a TV actor who they think has off-the-charts charisma; and following it up when the alchemy produces gold?

    Were Silver and the Gordons and Fox hoping for a home run? Sure. Were they CALCULATING it before the die was even cast? No, not really and certainly not in the ways in which it enters the equation after a movie is a hit.

  • No. There's no difference at all, other than the possibility of success. Every movie ever made by a studio has been made with the sole goal of turning a profit. No studio has EVER green lit a movie they believed would fail. Ever. And the only measure of success is financial. Every single film has extensive forecasting done on it before it goes into production. Sometimes they do it poorly and misjudge the potential audience and sometimes the movie just turns out crappy and fails because of that and sometimes the marketing department drops the ball. But every single one of them is made to make a profit.

    And so, frankly, is every single independent film that draws from private equity. Everybody puts their money in expecting to make a profit. Their decision making process and ability to judge potential audience is often less sophisticated and there are less cooks in the kitchen, which allows for more personal choices to be made, but at the end of the day it's the same thing. People invest because they think they can make money.

    The only exception I can to this are people like Matthew Barney, who draw their funds from the arts community. Even films supported by public film funds - such as those in Europe - are subject to market analysis and greenlit along those lines. There are more factors at play there - financial stimulus of local economy, some artistic measures in some cases - but still, if it projects loss, it doesn't get made.

    I find it really quite amusing how people bend over backwards to deny that the film industry is an INDUSTRY and continue to shift parameters and definitions so they can say that the films they like are somehow morally superior to those that they don't. Because they're somehow more 'pure' while the other ones are 'cash grabs'. It's ridiculous.

  • TheGhostOfGriffinMill

    It's not about industry. That's a given.

    But DIE HARD was a greater risk than DIE HARD 2. Fact.

    DIE HARD was made because (A) the studio and producers felt they had a good story to tell; and (B) the hope was that a good story told well would resonate with audiences, ie: make money.

    DIE HARD 2 was made because (A) the studio and producers felt they had a decent second story to exploit; and (B) they KNEW there was an audience for whom the picture would resonate and to whom they could market it, ie: make money.

    If you think there's only semantics involved there, okay. But I can tell you that, in the room, the anxiety levels about people's careers were vastly different between the two projects.

    If your thesis is that everyone makes a movie to get an audience -- and, especially for the capital-I Industry, that audience is measured in dollars generated -- then, clearly, you're right.

    But if you're saying that everyone MAKES the movies they make ONLY with the expectation that they'll make a heap of money, that's highly cynical. I've never been involved in a project where anyone anywhere along the way said "We are going to make a ton of cash on this thing."

    (Maybe after a kick-ass preview, but even then I would wave them off getting too excited)

    The financial projection process has always been a combination of projecting the potential upside and battle-planning how to limit the downside.

    Has that "art" turned to science in the last 15 years? Yes. Has it taken on a disproportionate value since studios started outsourcing development more and more? Yes. For the studios.

    But for the guys developing the projects -- with the possible exception of Relativity and their near-useless risk matrix -- they're still starting at the same place most have always started: a story or character that they are passionate about. If it wasn't a high-risk investment industry, you wouldn't see the forests-worth of caveats and codicils in every investor prospectus and contract.

    Am I going to argue the creative merit of a project like BATTLESHIP? No. I was fired from a job for telling my boss that if he wanted something that had a guaranteed audience awareness, we should make PET ROCK: THE MOVIE.

    (Now THAT guy really DID only think about the cash. And, not surprisingly, he is long out of the Industry.)

    But, for the most part, the only "cash grabs" I've ever seen are DTV films like those that Asylum makes that piggy-back off the marketing and sweat equity of other projects.

    Everything else? Do you want to make money? Sure. It reflects that there's an audience for the story you wanted to tell. But is it the driver? I hope not. And if you know people for whom it is, you should tell them that there are plenty of much easier ways to make a lot of money.

  • TobyDammit

    Okay, enough with the inside-baseball already. You're both saying the same thing-- everyone wants to make money from the movie they make.

  • Oldschool1987

    Who cares if its a cash grab? I'd agree with you if the quality wasnt there but the last Die Hard movie is the highest rated Die Hard sequel which just proves that Die Hard is still brilliant and people want to see it.

    The films were never meant to be realistic anyway so stretching the franchise is no biggie because guess what? It's only a film.

    And anyway if Bruce Willia wants to keep making them then who are you to say there shouldn't be anymore? It's his character who he knows better than anyone so if he thinks there's more stories to tell then ill happily see them. And the last DH movie was the most successful one so people want to keep seeing them. You might be a hater, if that's the case then just stick to watching the first to and ignore the rest. Stop trying to ruin it for the rest of us with your negativity.

  • Nemuri Kyoshiro

    Good points.. I'm not a hater, it's just my opinion that I prefer parts 1-3, nothing more.. If Bruce Willis wants to make 30 more Die Hard's I don't care.. On my other comment I wasn't trying to skool you, just some trivia thrown in for the hell of it.. If I came off as snide and an ass to you, I wasn't...

  • Oldschool1987

    Sorry pal I apologise. I thought you were trolling me so I was being arsy with you in my responses. I take it back pal.

  • Die Hard 2 Is like Hanover 2 - Souless clone. 1 + 3 are the best

  • marshy00

    Soulless clone? If you dont like DH2 that's fine, but it's hardly just a rehash of the first one.

  • Oldschool1987

    It's definitely a rehash. Bad luck strikes again at Xmas with his wife held hostage.

  • marshy00

    But that's what the DIE HARD series was all about. The minute they moved the series out of an enclosed space, away from a public holiday, ditched his wife and gave him a partner, it became just another action movie.

  • Anthony Satterthwaite

    Precisely mate! That is essentially what Die Hard is and therefore in order for the sequel to work as a die hard film it would have to retain those elements whilst raising the stakes and opening things out a bit, hence the airport setting. Plus die hard 2 put mcclane up against much tougher villains who were actually terrorists, not thieves out for money. Die Hards 3-5 ditched the formula completely hence they're just not die hard. That's why criticizing die hard 2 as a rehash is just stupid....it had to stay loyal to the original premise that's the point. And people who criticize it for this have missed the point entirely.

  • Alex Smith

    I don't think its fair to limit the premise of the DIE HARD series to just an 'enclosed space, public holiday, saving his wife' scenario. A series always starts from small beginnings and expand itself further, just as with any storyline. Just imagine if Die Hard with a Vengeance was actually Die Hardest and the same premise from 1 and 2 are re-enacted. The trilogy wouldn't be taken seriously at all if McLane had to save his wife on christmas day in another enclosed space.

  • marshy00

    I wish DHWAV had been exactly that.

  • Oldschool1987

    I can see your point dude but example: Alien, psychological horror set on board a mining vessel with slight action but all suspense and everything left to your imagination. Aliens, balls to the wall action flick, horror replaced for gore and violence. A good sequel needs to evolve, not retread old ground. Godfather 2 is a perfect example.

  • marshy00

    Agree with your examples of good sequels, but there is a difference between "evolving" the series, and essentially disregarding all the elements that gave the films their identity. You can't simply stick John McClane and terrorists into an action movie and claim it's DIE HARD, there was more to it than that, much of which was discarded after DH2.

  • Oldschool1987

    Sorry hope I don't off as rude but that seems narrow minded in how a sequel should be. DHWAV and LVODH definitely had the spirit of Die Hard:

    - Wise cracking John, check.
    -Vest, check.
    -Thieves after money but pretending to be terrorists. Every terrorist group in DH is after wealth. No political agenda like all terrorists, check.
    -Genre defining action, check.
    -Disregard for authority, check
    I can go on but that's enough I think.

    Just because its setting has expanding and its Christmas setting is gone doesnt mean it isn't Die Hard. He's still

  • Anthony Satterthwaite

    Actually the whole thieves out for money plot got tedious and boring. One of the best things about die hard 2 is that the villains actually ARE terrorists with an agenda, so that raised the stakes in that mcclane went up against the real deal!

  • darrenjh

    I agree with James. The second movie started off where the first one finished and you still had the vibe of the first all through it. It was like watching the same character in both movies. Since the second, the same character was not present. I think the major, indisputable theme of the first two was, 'wrong place at the wrong time' and 'an average joe can save the world (the US anyway)'. I didn't see this as much in the 3rd or the ones after them.

  • Anthony Satterthwaite

    The fourth film sort of tried to bring back the wrong place, wrong time thing but it didn't work as well as in the first two. For one thing a terrorist attack that massive on the entire US should not be left purely down to one man to solve. In the first two it made sense why mcclane had to take matters into his own hands but in the fourth one i'm just thinking, come on where the hell are the entire country's police, special forces etc.....and they started making him a bit invulnerable too, not to mention the ridiculous car flying into helicopter thing!

  • Oldschool1987

    The fourth movie didnt work as well? It recieved critical acclaim and is the highest rated DH sequel.

  • Neal Boren

    I knew once you said that Die Harder was better than With a Vengeance, that I couldn't trust your review of this film.

  • joerg.nezmeskal

    Why? He´s absolutely right!

  • Jurina Matsui

    Die Hard saga ended with Die Harder.

  • Oldschool1987

    Really? Huh, so those 3 other sequels are non canon? Try again.

  • Jurina Matsui

    I saw all the Alien movies again when I got the boxset with all the director's cuts. Alien 3 was improved, a lot of errors were corrected, but still wasn't as good as a Alien movie should be. In *MY* opinion. ;-)

  • Jurina Matsui

    Saying that *for me* the saga ended with the 2nd, I'm implying that I don't like the rest. But I'm pretty consistant. Terminator ended in T2. Alien ended in Aliens. ;-)

  • Oldschool1987

    Ok that's totally fair. Misunderstood what you meant. Agree with you about Terminator, the rest sucked. Salvation might have been awesome if they stuck to their guns and kept the origina ending. Alien Resurrection is so bad, Alien 3 has actually aged pretty well. Bought the set on blu ray recently. The first has aged the best because there's minimal effects, it relies on tension, atmosphere and suspense and leaves most to our imagination. Aliens isn't as amazing as when I was a kid, still epic but hasn't aged as well as the first. The 3rd which I hated is actually good today, doesn't make sense but when I seem it recently I enjoyed it a lot. You should try it again, you might still hate it but ya never know lol.

  • Jurina Matsui

    In my opinion. Can I have an opinion?

  • Oldschool1987

    You can but that's not opinion. You're saying that Die Hard ended after the second. That's not opinion because there is 3 more sequels that are canon. That's fact. If you said you didn't like the movies after Die Harder then that's fine but you said DH2 is the series' ending. That's wrong and can be backed up by proof.

  • Oldschool1987

    Lol! You're so right! Die Harder was a poor follow up to the first. Vengeance tried to expand the series past the Christmas troubles that keep happening and it definitely succeeded, what a movie. As for Live Free, I may be in the minority here but I think its up there with the first movie. It's amazing. I am speaking about the uncut version.

  • Nemuri Kyoshiro

    Die Hard 3 was originally titled, "Simon Says." Which was never meant to be a Die Hard movie to begin with...

  • Oldschool1987

    Erm I know. What's that got to do with anything? Tears of the Sun was supposed to be a Die Hard movie. Live Free or Die Hard was originally based on a Short Story. A Good Day to Die Hard is the only Die Hard movie that isn't based on a previously written story and its written from scratch as a Die Hard movie.

    If you were trying to school me you didn't. I know all this already.

  • marshy00

    I've never understood the hate for DH2, not sure i ever will. It does a great job of expanding on the original premise without simply rehashing the first one. Dennis Franz in particular is great value and the script eminently quotable. DHWAV is pretty good, but it just strays too far from the original formula for my liking. Anyway, none of this changes the fact that AGDTDH is vacuous and inane from beginning to end.

  • LetItBurnUSA

    I don't get the Die Hard 2 hate either. Is it a Renny Harlin thing? Granted, McTiernan is a better director, but he's also the dude who made Medicine Man and Last Action Hero before he returned to helm the third Die Hard flick.

    Or is it that plane crash halfway through the movie that brings people down so much? It does make McClane's "victory" at the end seem a little more hollow given how many innocent people perished, but it also raised the stakes so you weren't sure what would happen for the rest of the film.

    Sure, Col. Stuart was no Hans Gruber(who is?), but he was still a formidable heavy and he's the only main villain in the series thus far(not counting the 5th which I haven't seen yet) who's taken on McClane one-on-one. And admit it, the scene where he and the rest of the terrorists are all blown to pieces is great.

    Ultimately what puts DH2 above the 3rd movie for me are two things. First, I actually cared about McClane in the 2nd film. Ditching Holly and making him a burned out alcoholic nearly ruined the character. Secondly, the 2nd half of DHWAV is boring! It turns into a lame Goldfinger clone. At least DH2 had the good sense to rip off the first Die Hard rather than DHWAV turning the raid on Fort Knox setpiece from an old Bond flick into the final hour and 15 minutes of the movie.

  • Anthony Satterthwaite

    You're right on all of that. I agree totally!
    You say that you cared about McClane more in Die Hard 2 than in With a Vengeance. I personally also cared more about seeing the villains get defeated in the end. In With a Vengeance I never really felt that strong need for McClane to win caus it felt like all Simon really did was steal some gold. Most of his supposed bombs were tricks and other than spouting stupid riddles and stealing gold, he hadn't done very much. Unlike Hans who tried to blow up 30 or more hostages and shot Takagi and one or two others and threatened mcclane's wife, plus Colonel Stuart crashing that plane and attempting to run off with a drug dealer, with Simon there's not much to hate about the guy other than he's a thief!

  • It's the exact same film as the first without being nearly as good. It's pretty okay on its own but suffers mightily in comparison.

    WITH A VENGEANCE is trying something new, so I'll always credit it for that. (And I think it's just a more effective action film overall.)

  • Blackapin0

    I agree 100%. I liked Die Hard 2 a lot. I really enjoyed all of the Die Hard films with the exception of Live Free. Which wasn't a bad movie, I just don't think any Die Hard movie should be pg-13.

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