So i have been getting a lot of great suggestions now on what to do with this blog in the future. Instead of just posting movie posters and the occasional blog post here and there, there will be more variety on here from now on starting with a new segment that is called Classic Action Movie Franchise Reviews, or CAMFR for short (we have got to find a better title). This is where i will look at the entire franchise of a classic action movie. And we are starting with my all time favorite: DIE HARD!
DIE HARD (1988)
What an absolutely perfect movie this is. Who would have thought that Bruce Willis, who was best known for his comedic persona from Moonlighting and the forgettable Blind Date at the time, would be such an amazing casting decision for a hard R action movie like this? That would be like casting the lanky nerd from The Big Bang Theory in an action movie these days. Well, maybe not. Bruce Willis was always a little tougher than that. But anyway, whoever made that casting decision deserves a medal. Die Hard owes a lot of it’s brilliance to Bruce Willis and his perfect portrayal of John McClane. He is the far opposite of the regular action heroes at the time like Schwarzenegger and Stallone. Instead of being a muscle bound mountain of a man, he is just a regular, average Joe in the wrong place at the wrong time. He is the kind of action hero most people could relate to. But Bruce Willis as John McClane is not the only genius casting decision that makes this movie so amazing. There is also Alan Rickman as one of my all time favorite movie villains, Hans Gruber. He is the perfect combo of smart, slimy, cool and vicious. And of course he has the mandatory European accent that all action movie villains had to have at that time. This movie is filled with great characters, but this is an action movie so we have to talk about the ting everyone wants to talk about here: the romance. John and Holly kiss at the end. Now on to the second most important part: the action. Oh my god is the action here amazing! This movie barely takes any breaks after the action starts and the few times it does it’s just to build tension or hear about Carl Winslow, erm, i mean Al Powell shooting kids. This movie has me on the edge of my seat every time i watch it. And i watch it a lot. At least once a year around Christmas i put this on. It’s not only a perfect action movie, it’s also a perfect Christmas movie. But this is starting to turn into a full fledged review of the first movie, and that is not what this is supposed to be, so let’s movie on.
DIE HARD 2: DIE HARDER (1990)
This is a perfect example of a sequel just trying to recreate everything in the first movie and failing. Now don’t get me wrong, this is still an enjoyable action movie, but when it keeps doing the same stuff as the first movie beat for beat, it just makes me want to watch the first one again. But when it’s not just doing scenes from the first movie all over again it does have some cool moments. John McClane stabbing someone through the eye with an ice sickle is something i always think of when i see them every winter. I also like the snowmobile chase in the movie. This movie also manages to go a lot darker than the first movie as well as getting a lot goofier at the same time. While there are horrible scenes like the plane crash, there are also scenes ripped right out of the Looney Tunes like when John McClane uses an ejector seat to get away from an exploding grenade. Overall, this is a decent, but kind of forgettable action movie. It’s the middle child between two great movies. Speaking of…
DIE HARD: WITH A VENGEANCE (1995)
Now this is how you do a sequel! Take the character we all know and love and put him in a new and exciting situation. Don’t just do the same thing over again. This movie takes John McClane out of a small building getting taken over by terrorists during Christmas, and puts him in the big city playing a deadly game of Simon Says during one of the hottest summer days. He also get’s a great partner in this movie with Samuel L. Jackson as Zeus. He makes up for Al not returning this time. This time it’s back to a great villain again as well. I could not even remember what the villain looked like in Die Hard 2, but you will not forget Jeremy Irons as Simon Gruber. He is the brother of Hans Gruber and he’s out for revenge. Or that is what he wants you to think at least. This movie if filled with great action set pieces throughout New York and keeps the tension up at all times. John McClane get’s more beat up in this film than ever before. At the end he looked so sweaty, bloody and bruised that you can almost smell him through the screen. Just like with watching Die Hard 1 ever Christmas, i feel like i have to watch this one every summer. For a long time this was the last of the franchise and i was fine with that. It was a good trilogy. A little slow in the middle, but McClane went out on top. Then one day Hollywood decided to give a new sequel to pretty much every franchise that ended in the 90’s.
LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD (2007)
When this was first announced i got very excited. Up to this point Die Hard was one of my all time favorite franchises and the thought of a new one after all these years was like a dream come true. Then all the other announcements came along. It was gonna be directed by Underworld director Len Wiseman. It was gonna co-star Justin Long from the Apple commercials and various teen sex comedies. And on top of it all, it was gonna be rated PG-13. What the fuck? Seriously? The last Die Hard movie before this is one of the most brutal action movies there is and you are gonna follow it up with a PG-13 movie? I was furious. Finally Die Hard is returning and it’s getting a PG-13 rating. I almost didn’t even watch this in the theaters i was so mad. But to my surprise, it was not bad. I actually liked it. I would even go so far as to say i liked it better than Die Hard 2. I know, i’m as shocked as you guys. Sure, the PG-13 is really holding this movie back, but it still manages to get in some great action sequences. Sometimes it get’s a little over the top for a Die Hard movie like when he is surfing on a jet plane, but it’s still fun to watch. Justin Long manages to not get on my nerves as well. Kevin Smith is the one who get’s that honor. The villains are also good. Timothy Olyphant, who i love on shows like Deadwood and Justified, does the best he can with what he got. Nobody can play annoyed as well as him and when you are up against McClane you will get very annoyed. I hate to keep harping on this, but i feel like if they had given this movie the R rating it should have had, he could have gone all out and been a great bad guy. But yeah, this was a surprisingly fun movie. I could not believe it. I was so ready to just hate this movie the first time i sat down to watch it, but by the time John McClane takes out a helicopter with a car, i was totally with this movie. So when they announced that the next Die Hard was gonna be a return to the R rating it could only go up from here, right?
A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD (2013)
I… uh… i… th… wha… WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED HERE?! This was supposed to be the return to glory for the franchise, but instead they decided to take a huge, steaming pile of shit all over it, smear it in good, then take a piss on it for that extra flavor, and call it the day. This movie is the absolute fucking worst insult to the Die Hard franchise i have ever seen. I can’t even explain how bad this movie is. I had to leave the movie theater halfway through it the first time i saw it. I could not sit there for another second and watch one of my favorite franchise get violated in the worst possible way like this. When i finally did finish watching the movie at home it just made me feel sick. How can a once great franchise like this sink so low? I can’t even go on about this film. I don’t want to think about this movie anymore. I think i had actually blocked it from my memory because when i started this write up i was sure the franchise ended at number 4. It was only when i checked Imdb that i remembered this movie existed. So let’s just move on….
OVERALL TAKE ON THE FRANCHISE
When ignoring that last travesty, this is a great action movie franchise. It’s one that not necessarily get’s better by each movie, but it certainly get’s bigger. Bruce Willis was born to play John McClane and no one could have done it better. This is one of the franchises you start with if you want to get someone into classic action movies. That is definitely how i have converted many people. So, if you have nothing to do this weekend, get out you Die Hard box set, get a few beers and some friends, and have yourself a great time. That is what i’m gonna do.
Die Hard 10/10
Die Hard 2: Die Harder 6/10
Die Hard: With a Vengeance 10/10
Live Free or Die Hard 7/10
A Good Day to Die Hard 0/10 Fuck this movie! It does not count!
Overall score: 8/10