This new Die Hard movie has its work cut out, when it come to impressing me. For me, the original film was the perfect movie: simplistic action, yet never belittling the audience with terrible acting and ridiculous sequences. The hero, John McClane, has remained one of the most memorable heroes in cinematic history: he is relentless, relatable, and most of all, has a wit that simply brightens up the movie.
The Die Hard franchise has taken a battering in the past. Die Harder and Die Hard with a Vengeance, although not awful films, never managed to cash in on the original thrill of the first. Die Hard 4.0 cut audiences straight down the middle: some people hated it, while others thought it restored Die Hard to its original glory (personally, I thought it was a five star movie). One thing I had noticed from the trailer is that if you didn’t like Die Hard 4.0, you will hate Die Hard 5, as it seems to be going in that direction.
But what else is it possible to glean from the trailer? I’ve watched it a couple of times now (it is probably the most common trailer at the cinema), and have come up with five things that I felt were worth commenting on. Please feel free to have a debate below in the comments: I want to know where everyone else stands on this fifth Die Hard outing.
5 – IT’S IN RUSSIA
OK, the biggest difference between the Die Hards of old is that this film is in Russia, for the first time leaving the homely location of America. At first, I used this fact to complain about the film, but after a while, I began to wonder if this choice is actually a fairly clever one from the director. We can expect several ‘fish out of water’ jokes from the brash American lead and it could even help with the feel of a typical Die Hard. In the first two films, McClane was in a different state than he was used to, meaning that the local cops immediately mistrusted him. That was key feature in the original: other than one rookie cop, McClane was on his own. Personally in Die Hard 3, the film was dampened slightly, by the fact that McClane had his department helping him out. Maybe in Russia, where the villain could have the police in his pocket, this idea of the local cops not being an option, will come across more believable, than them not helping McClane kill the bad guys, out of some sluggish pride.
Also, the downside to it being in Russia, is that it does seem like McClane is rushing all over Russia. The charm of Die Hard was the fact that it was claustrophobic: in the first, he was only allowed a few levels of a skyscraper to escape from the terrorists, while in the second, he was trapped in an airport. The third lost a bit of the Die Hard charm, as he had a whole city to run around in. The fourth saw McClane using several states, although it did have a metaphorical trapped message: the loss of technology was symbolic of how helpless we as a nation are without it.
Maybe the ‘fish out of water’ thing will help McClane solve this idea of trapped. He is stuck in a foreign country: he knows no one, doesn’t know where to go when he needs to hide and he has no idea of which political figures to trust. Sure, he can run around all of Russia, but at the end of the day, the only things McClane can rely on are his son, a truck full of guns and his own wits. Maybe the claustrophobia will still get across to the audience.
4 – WHO’S SHE?
A minute or so into the trailer, we come across a woman climbing off a motorbike. She unzips her leather suit and reveals that she isn’t really wearing very much underneath. This threw me. Why does the film need this? And why does it feel that this is something to represent the film in the trailer?
Assuming she is a bad guy, let’s look at some of the other female henchwoman in the Die Hard franchise. There isn’t many: Katya in Die Hard 3 and Mai in Die Hard 4.0. Neither woman is really sexualised to an extent. Sure, they’re pretty, but the film never really focuses on this. Katya is an expert with knives and Mai is a martial artist (well, she is an Asian in an action movie, after all). It’s kind of disappointing that the film falls back onto this. Hopefully, it was just a short clip that the producers thought would bring the men into the cinema (because they weren’t going already, of course! – he says, rolling his eyes), and that the character is more than a pretty face.
3 – WHO’S HE?
Now for the main villain: Komorov. Little is known about him other than he is pretty much an uber-terrorist. The back story isn’t too important: it’s the actual character that we care about. Die Hard features some of the best movie villains going, including Alan Rickman in his first ever movie role. There must be an insane amount of pressure on actor Sebastian Koch to live up to this rogue gallery.
An European bad guy is a good start, however. Alan Rickman and Jeremy Irons both played German villains and it put a good feel on the film. It also adds to McClane defending America: a foreign villain works so much better. Although I loved Die Hard 4.0, I thought Timothy Olyphant failed to live up to the other villains, not really seeming as threatening as past characters. Komorov is shown very little in the trailer, but he seems to have a fairly menacing, yet calm snarl that should provide a good enemy for McClane to face off against.
2 – JACK McCLANE
Another thing that scares the hell out of me when it comes to the success of this film is the appearance of Jai Courtney as John McClane’s son, Jack. As I said before, McClane works best alone and this idea of being isolated from the rest of the world could get lost, when he has his son by his side. Saying that, I did feel the same when Die Hard 4.0 placed McClane next to Justin Long’s Matt Farrell. It kind of worked, bringing a nice relationship between the two characters and Farrell acting as a narrative device for the audience to explore McClane’s character a bit more.
The argument is that while Justin Long didn’t take the movie away from McClane, Jai Courtney is portrayed as Mark II of Bruce, suggesting that he will have his own slice of the action. Maybe this will work, but at the same time, the movie could try and give Courtney an equal amount of the fighting, when the audiences just want to see Bruce Willis as the legendary John McClane. I am worried that the director will mess up the balance and the entire film will stumble over its own feet.
1 – BRUCE IS BACK
However, all of these niggling points aside, Bruce Willis is back!
The second the trailer cuts to his face, a grin cuts across everyone who is familiar with the guy. He seems to be back in his comfort zone, bringing the witticisms, the power and, not to mention, a lot of blood. (When I was younger, I remember watching the Die Hards and not being able to believe that a man could bleed as much as John McClane). At the end of the day, if the entire film crashes at his feet, it will not be Bruce’s fault. As long as he is the John McClane we have come to love, I will happily sit through a terrible film for the occasional ‘Yippie Ki Yay, Motherfucker!’