“Just a fly in the ointment, Hans. The monkey in the wrench. The pain in the ass…” Who can forget this line from the original Die Hard movie, where John McClane, played by the then young Bruce Willis, attempts to save the Nakatomi building and its inhabitants from the maniacal plot of the nefarious Hans Grouber.

I haven’t seen that movie in five years and I still not only remember the plot in detail, but the characters and even action sequences as well, McClane infiltrates the massive office building barefoot, throwing Germans off buildings and stringing them up with chains.

The second Die Hard, although good, fell short of its predecessor, primarily due to a forgettable villain. The third installment brought new life into the franchise, McClane was back with a hangover, the plot was original and clever, the villains, oh, the villains from the third Die Hard movie—so good. Now combine all that epicness and throw some Samuel L. Jackson into the mix and you get a third installment good enough to rival the original. The fourth movie was a mixed bag, and although decent, it was a bit a of a letdown after how good Die Hard 3 and Die Hard With a Vengeance, did. Now we come to the fifth installment of this action franchise, Die Hard 5: A Good Day to Die Hard. As I write this, tears threaten to short-circuit my keyboard.

I don’t know what the writer, the director, or anyone was thinking during the making of this movie. Being a big Bruce Willis fan, and a fan of classic action movies in general, I desperately wanted to like this movie. I tried, I swear I did.

The only decent (and I stress decent) thing in this movie is Bruce Willis, but even his performance seems lackluster and stale at times. He just doesn’t seem into it (which is a contradiction to what he has said about the franchise, claiming that if another script came along he would certainly be interested in doing it), Bruce lacks the spark and energy that he brings to most roles, he seems, well, old. Of course his character is old and it works to a degree, playing the bad-ass tired dad figure. If this was the only complaint I had, this movie would have been much better received, but alas I’m only getting started.

The plot was typical and forced, Russia really? The villains are totally forgettable, and there did not seem to be any depth to any of them (some dancing, carrot eating weirdo, seriously?). This movie also lacked the humor the first four had (it did try, but not very hard), It’s tough to tell whether it was bad writing or poor delivery, but the humor seemed to be sucked completely out of this franchise.

I feel bad writing such a poor review about a franchise that I loved growing up and an actor who is amazing, but it’s in part because of those two facts that I want to be completely honest here. This movie fell very short and it starts from the top, the writers in Hollywood don’t seem to have the same cleverness they once did, the producers are only interested in the bottom-line, and the industry itself is experiencing troubles as we enter the digital age. It comes down to one thing really (yes, money, but…) no one’s willing to take chances anymore, no one wants to step outside the box and roll the dice—the writing is typical, the plots are typical, and very rarely do we see anything amazing and original these days.

Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing my favorite comics on the big screen, and seeing fairy tales brought to life, but its time for something new.

The other issue, and this is pure speculation, is I think the days of the action movie are over. To type that last sentence was not easy. I grew up with Rambo, Conan, Snake Pliskin, John McClane, Robocop, Mad Max, and so many more dispensing justice through the barrel of an automatic weapon. These guys were my heroes, pure testosterone-fueled engines of mass destruction. Schwarzenegger’s  lifetime body count has got to be in the thousands. These were dudes who knew how to blow shit up. Yeah, they have gotten older, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to hang up the bandoleer, and these guys, old though they may be, are still trying hard to do what they do best: pump out those good old bullet fests. Why then are they all flopping? These men have only grown as actors, and really, the writing and plot-line takes a back seat to the raw action you expect from this genre, and along those lines, the special effects have only gotten better so whats the problem?

The problem, boys and girls, is us, or more accurately, society. We live in a world today where it’s no longer cool to lay waste to your enemies with high powered assault rifles. The world we live in apparently has enough violence and horror, so we only need to turn on the news to see the latest action flick. It’s unfortunate and sad, but it is understandable.

Yet, I for one will always honor these warriors of the silver screen, and will always own a VCR (that’s the bigger rectangular thing, that plays big rectangular things, for all those in our younger audience) just for those special days where I need a little “Yippe kay yay.”

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2 Responses

  1. Joshua Philipp

    Fully agreed. It’s funny actually. I went back and watched the second Die Hard, and I was thinking the same thing: the age of the action movie is over. I think we’ve become too attached to realism, and the modern viewer doesn’t like watching some invincible guy taking on an army by himself.

    But on another note, Die Hard 4 was my favorite! I think the dynamic of Bruce Willis teaming up with super nerds was a great idea.

    Also on the point of bad guys, yeah Die Hard 5 had no interesting bad guys. Think of Die Hard 4, though. You had crazy hacker guy, parkour French guy, hot ninja Asian lady, and evil hacker henchmen. All the bad guys were memorable.

    • John Fuller

      I was getting ready to reply with something profound and awesome, but then I realized there are very few things in this world more profound and awesome than a “hot ninja Asian lady.” Well played.


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