2013 Bruce Willis Action Movie

Hey, remember that hypocrisy I was talking about in the last post? Well last night I went to see Die Hard 5: A Good Day to Die Hard, or more accurately, 2013 Bruce Willis Action Movie. Much like Die Hard 4.0: Live Free or Die Hard, it’s a good action film, but could barely be described as a Die Hard film. Let me say this now: if you don’t agree that the original Die Hard is one of the best action movies ever made – hell, one of the best movies ever made – then I don’t much care to know you, sir. But the last couple of them? I don’t see anyone’s lives being enriched by either of them. They were both generic attention filler – the only difference is that 5 is stupid where 4 was silly.

McClane… gets by on psychosis and invulnerability

The first thing to jump out at me was the opening credits, which disclosed that the film was written by someone called Skip Woods. Skip Woods!? That’s not the name of a screenwriter, it’s the name of a plucky reporter or possibly a buck-toothed neighbour kid in a family sitcom from the 50s. Maybe that’s just my prejudices at play. Moving on.

Now, I’m told that Die Hard 3 began life as a separate film, which was retrofitted with Bruce Willis and a Gruber to turn it into a Die Hard sequel – I’m assuming the same thing happened with 4 and 5, only they took even less care in doing it. The script for this one SKIP WOODS! SKIP FUCKING WOODS! THIS FILM WAS WRITTEN BY A GUY WHOSE NAME DOUBLES AS ADVICE YOU’D RECEIVE FROM A GOLF CADDY sorry, sorry my problem. Anyway, it bears as little resemblance to the original Die Hard as is possible while still remaining a moving picture. Intrigue in Moscow? Shootouts in Chernobyl? Bruce Willis’ character is much closer to a genetic hybrid of Rambo and the character he played in Unbreakable than John McClane.

In Die Hard, McClane gets by on wits and luck – here he gets by on psychosis and invulnerability, diving into city-wrecking car chases without pause and machine gunning death squads with workmanlike insouciance. (Not forgetting that he’s not even a cop here – that fact that he’s merely a tourist in a foreign country doesn’t stop him from assaulting strangers, stealing cars, destroying a motorway’s worth of civilian vehicles with their drivers in them and murdering bad guys by the dozen. And getting away with it.) Perhaps there’s something postmodern going on here, where McClane knows that he’s the star of an action franchise and is therefore unkillable, explaining his willingness to leap into what should be certain death, as well as his utter disregard for the safety or property of anyone around him – they’re only extras.

The plot makes little sense in retrospect. It has the requisite Die Hard twist, but when you look back knowing how things are going to turn out, a lot of the bad guy’s plan involved people he had no control over doing exactly what he wanted, and trusting that he would survive multiple gun battles with no proper protection.

They chuck some family bonding into the mix, as McClane teams up with his estranged son (played by a man who looks like he won some sort of Looks Least Likely to Be Genetically Related to Bruce Willis competition), having already won back his estranged wife and daughter in previous films (even if it was only temporary in his wife’s case). The Generro family name takes quite a hammering in this series – it’s constantly being denounced, every time Bruce murders his way back into a family member’s heart. “Yeah, fuck you, Mum – you may have done your best to provide a loving environment to raise us in for years, despite being hobbled by an absent and emotionally stunted husband, but Dad shot some Russians and jumped out of a building! I’m a fuckin’ McClane now!”

Like I said, as an action film, it’s good. There are some great sequences – trucks are overturned, buildings are shot to pieces, ‘splosions splode and people are turned into flesh confetti by helicopter rotors. There’s no reason why it couldn’t have been any generic action film starring any generic action star, though.

Other good things: it’s properly R-rated now, so they can say “fuck” as God intended. Also, it’s 98 minutes long, which is the proper length for this sort of actioner. If you can’t make an action film under two hours long, you are a Shit Director. Looking at you, Michael Bay and Late Period James Cameron.

And finally, of course, we have to consider the name. LIVE FREE AND DIE HARD, A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD – are they going to just keep making films until they run out of shit puns on phrases with the word “die” in them? Where can they go next?

LIVE AND LET DIE HARD – A Bond crossover, maybe?
TWENTY-SIDED DIE HARD – Oh shit, I would utterly watch that.
THE DIE-HARD-ARY OF ANNE FRANK – OK, that’s fucking gold, I’m scaring myself now.


4 thoughts on “2013 Bruce Willis Action Movie

  1. Uncle Touchy

    Skippy was possibly a studio-coffee-bitch-with-a-dream who managed to gobble enough nob to get his filmschool script made (Thursday) and cram some other good ideas onto a more mainstream disaster (Swordfish) before going right off his rocker on hooker-flavoured cocaine with Wolverine Orgasms.

    The guy realy likes big helicopters hitting buildings, too. I blame mommy issues. And when your mother names you after a bush kangaroo, I’d have issues, too.

  2. Apathy Jack

    Non-severe spoilers to follow, just by way of a psa…

    I think it made sense as a sequel (which isn’t necessarily a compliment), and the fact that I can’t sleep means you get the long reason why. To make sense as a sequel, 1) the theme has to remain in tact and/or follow a path, and 2) the character has to be basically consistent. The theme stayed in tact insofar as the grand overarching plan was, predictably by this point, all about money, and also that the film was stupider than its predecessor. The Die Hard franchise has gotten stupider with every go round (innovative ways to kill people using office supplies becomes exploding jet becomes playing-simon-says-in-a-cab becomes whatever the hell was happening in Die Hard 4 becomes helicopter fight at Chernobyl) so, whether you think that’s a good or bad thing (it is a good thing) it is following a specific and consistent trajectory. Also, the character remained consistent, insofar as all of his dialogue could be summed up as “Hey, Russia, get off my lawn!” which isn’t something John Mclaine would have said in the eighties, but he’s almost sixty now and just wants his goddamn kid to stop being a screw up. Also, your point about Mclaine knowing he was in an action movie adds, I think, to this consistency. After a certain point in ones life, one has to stop saying “How come this keeps happening to me?” and just shrug and say “Oh, this again. Who do I need to punch around here to get a gun…”

    Now, to refute everything I just said (it’s not my fault I can’t sleep – live with it) – someone (probably The Internet) gave a definition of a good sequel which I agree with: it has to add to canon without detracting from it. So a film like Aliens adds (holy shit, there are lots of aliens!) without taking away. Whereas Highlander 2 (holy shit, there are lots of aliens!) adds, but it adds shit, so is technically a detraction. You also have the Back To The Future sequels, for example, where they don’t detract from anything, but don’t add anything either, so aren’t bad, but are pointless.

    Using that formula, we can see that one of the sequels to Alien, both sequels to Predator, and any given half of the sequels to Hellraiser, are, technically, good sequels (I’m leaving the Christopher Nolan Batman movies out of this because I think the third one meets these criteria but the internet will prbably want to fight me over that…) and almost all others are terrible. Of course, also using that formula, any Die Hard past two doesn’t make the cut, and two itself starts looking a little shifty…

    That having been said, this one, like the last ones, was a great action movie, and if, as you say, it it wasn’t a great Die Hard movie, it still had a helicopter crashing into a nuclear power plant, so I feel like I got my money’s worth.

  3. Josh

    You make some good points. However, you also imply that Die Hard 3 is inferior to Die Hard 2, so instead of taking what you say on board, I’m now plotting your painful and socially awkward death by AIDS monkey.

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