Comfortable and Furious

A Good Day to Die Hard

Remember when action movies featuring father and son teams used to not suck? Me neither.

I know somebody is going to cite Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade as evidence to the contrary, but it should be noted that Indiana Jones Sr. was not really part of an action team in that film. He was ineffective and useless for the vast majority of the picture. No, A Good Day to Die Hard is definitely approaching Kingdom of the Crystal Skull territory. McClane’s son has considerably more training than Mutt’s fencing classes, but the general feeling of both films is the same: the hero is past his prime, doesn’t really give a shit anymore, and shambles about in an embarrassing pantomime of his past glories. There really isn’t anywhere to go from here. In Die Hard 6, it will be revealed that Lucy married Justin Long’s hacker character from Die Hard 4, and along with McClane’s son they will fight to save John from Hans Gruber’s former lesbian roommate and her squad of highly trained one-breasted Amazonian bearer bonds thieves after they stage a terrorist takeover of his retirement home.

I cannot believe that John McTiernan is in prison while Dick Cheney walks free. It’s sickening.

So, in this second entry in the Mr. Bigglesworth Die Hard trilogy, John travels to Moscow when he learns that his son, who has apparently turned to the dark side, is about to be sentenced to life in prison in Russia for falling in with the wrong crowd. It turns out that John’s suspicions were right, as his son has fallen in with the crowd at the CIA. John McClane Jr. is involved in some exploding cigar level scheme to extract a prisoner with intimate knowledge of a Russian politician’s wrongdoings. In reality, this is all a revenge tale between the prisoner and the politician, with the CIA caught up in it due to erroneous intelligence. The story would actually be a good story for a Jason Statham picture if they added in some Triads. So why is John McClane in this movie again?

As ridiculous as some of the setups in the Die Hard sequels have been, the setup in A Good Day to Die Hard reaches new levels of retarded. Die Hard 2: Die Harder had John picking his wife up from the airport; Die Hard With A Vengeance had the bad guy turn out to have a personal vendetta against McClane; Live Free or Die Hard had John tasked with transporting a suspect to D.C. when all other personnel were unavailable. Now, John flies all the way to Russia to talk to his son, and becomes involved in the plot only because he cannot leave his son alone until he has had a sufficiently long conversation. Yes, McClane gets into a 15 minute long car chase because “I’m not done talking to you!” Kids these days.

Like most action movies today, A Good Day to Die Hard features invincible heroes who can fall dozens of stories and walk away cleanly due to a properly placed trash dumpster. Yes, they bleed, and they get pieces of metal stuck in them, but they also let go of out of control helicopters, fly through the air, crash through panes of glass, and run full speed seconds later. Remember in the original Die Hard when McClane hesitates due to the broken glass scattered about the floor, as he has bare feet? Remember how the real catchphrase was not “Yippie Kie Yay, Motherfucker” but “What the fuck are you doing, John?” All of that is out the window with Hans Gruber now. It was actually out the window with the fighter jet scene in Die Hard vs. Hackers, but at this point, we have truly lost all connection to reality.

Gone are the tender moments where John McClane and Carl Winslow discussed the pros and cons of police work as a career. In fact, both films in this new Die Hard trilogy suffer from the lack of an African American character for McClane to commiserate with. John needs black people; they give him strength to fight through the day. Without them, he stumbles through the story without joy or emotion. He is an empty shell of a man without Samuel L. Jackson telling him that he is a white asshole who threw another white asshole off a building. That type of discussion keeps John grounded. In its absence, John turns into the embarrassing whitebread dad so perfectly captured by Tom Arnold in Soul Plane.

The film as a whole is bereft of colorful supporting characters. There was a good scene early on where John talks to a Sinatra loving taxi driver, but the driver is never seen again. Why bring up our cherished memories of Argyle only to dash them upon the rocks? Die Harder had Dennis Franz and Fred Thompson. Die Hard With A Vengeance had the only living member of the Chester A. Arthur fan club. Even Live Free or Die Hard had the inexplicable appearance by Kevin Smith as “Warlock”, a character that was upstaged both in terms of content and performance by Maggie Q’s ass. I guess what I’m trying to say is that Die Hard 4 had Maggie Q’s ass in it. A Good Day to Die Hard has the taxi driver cameo, a bit where a henchman tapdances, and… that’s about it.

I cannot believe that they have made two of these new Die Hard movies while Hudson Hawk still has no sequel. Is Andie MacDowell that busy? Come on, guys.

Instead of all of these things, A Good Day to Die Hard (I will never get tired of typing that title) has a focus on family. It is similar to Lethal Weapon 4 in this respect, although it forgoes that film’s racist “flied lice” jokes (presumably because John McClane had already offended the Asian American community with his “Can I Get Another Dead Asian Hooker Bitch Over Here” comment in the previous movie). Yes, this is a movie that is focused primarily on John McClane reconciling with his son. Why is his son angry at him? Well, apparently John worked too much and didn’t pay enough attention to him. It’s the story of every live-action Disney film ever made, just without Vanessa Hudgens in tight clothing to take your mind off the inanity of it all.

Some may object that the Die Hard films have always had a family focus. This is true to an extent, but this focus was handled much more intelligently in the previous movies. The original Die Hard had an exceptionally well written script. Underneath it all, Die Hard was about a man left behind by modernity asserting his autonomy. The traditional roles had broken down and his wife no longer needed him as a breadwinner. Second-wave feminism had stripped her of his name and the necessity of his financial support, leaving him irrelevant in their relationship. The government had no need for his heroics and the terrorists were charlatans focused solely on money. The Wall Street crowd had made the honest, hard-working American male a laughingstock. McClane could never afford the fancy watch that his wife received as a gift from the foreign company she worked for. John asserted his dominance throughout the movie and proved to society that he, too, had needs. He had a voice. At the end of the film, John freed his wife from Hans Gruber’s grip by taking off her expensive watch. John lived the dream of every white middle-aged Reaganite American male in the 80s as he symbolically removed her financial independence and took her into his arms. John made his wife a McClane again.

By contrast, in A Good Day to Die Hard, John McClane Jr. is upset because John wasn’t there enough. He calls his dad “John” or “McClane” throughout most of the movie. This is made all the more ridiculous by the fact that the son’s name is John McClane. Just get the cat-o-nine-tails and be done with it, already.

On top of all of this, Die Hard 5 has more annoying callbacks to previous adventures than Die Hard 2. John McClane Jr. talks of his dad’s “thing” as being “killing bad guys”. Constant references are made to McClane’s propensity for finding himself in the middle of heists disguised as terrorist attacks. In fact, if Live Free or Die Hard was a loose remake of Die Hard With A Vengeance, then A Good Day to Die Hard is a loose remake of Die Harder. Die Hard 4 had McClane teamed up with a sidekick fighting a villain who was using his terrorist attacks as a diversion from his attempt to steal all the money in the world. Die Hard 5 has McClane in the middle of a political power struggle, complete with a political prisoner and paramilitary forces that are either trying to kill the prisoner or aid him. The only real difference is that Die Harder’s story had allusions to contemporary political events, while A Good Day to Die Hard’s story is firmly trapped in the 1980s. I guess there was an event called the Cold War or something, where America and Russia fought each other. I’m glad we have movies like this to educate the youth of today. All I could think throughout the film was: Are we still on this, guys? It’s been over two decades, now. It’s time to move on.

To reiterate: A Good Day to Die Hard is a remake of Die Hard 2. You know, the shitty one. I’m sorry, but what the fuck is going on in Hollywood today? I don’t think even Renny Harlin thinks that highly of Die Hard 2. It was just him fucking around until he could make his Carolco-bankrupting magnum opus Cutthroat Island. Die Hard 2 is mostly notable for being the Die Hard film that features William Sadler’s bare ass in the opening minutes. It’s the man ass Die Hard film. Yet at no point in A Good Day to Die Hard do we see man ass, or ass of any kind for that matter. There is a bit during the opening credits where the camera, in a tracking shot following John McClane Jr. as he walks into a nightclub, centers on his ass, but it is clothed in white pants. It is not exposed. The film is just one disappointment after another.

I cannot believe that Renny Harlin had a career in Hollywood. This is the world that we live in.

The best way to describe this film is that it is a Die Hard movie made by Ellis. Even though Ellis was shot in the face in the first Die Hard, his spirit lives on in both of these new sequels and in our society as a whole. Our country today is a country in which the Ellises of the world won. Ellis has defeated all of us, and we are at his mercy. Afraid of creating anything new, the Ellises of the world will continue to pump out needless sequels to genre classics until the property reaches Battle for the Planet of the Apes territory, at which point the property is rebooted and the cycle begins anew. Note that A Good Day to Die Hard is still probably only slightly past Conquest of the Planet of the Apes territory, so there will be a Die Hard 6. And why not? “Yippie Kie Yay, Mother Russia” had the ad guys giggling for 10 minutes straight and masturbating to their own brilliance for an additional 20.

Do these people not understand how ridiculous and depressing my life already is? What is the matter with them?

I realize now, after reading over some of what I’ve written so far, that this review is perhaps a bit rambling and a bit of a mess. In my defense, this movie is a bit of a mess. It is just a blur of bullshit, punctuated by a few bright points. I liked the prisoner’s reveal as the main villain. In fact, his performance was easily the best part of this entire movie. If they rewrote this film so that it was not a Die Hard sequel, combining both McClane characters into Jason Statham, it might have been pretty good. I liked Lucy calling McClane during the middle of the car chase. I also liked the villain’s daughter, who is the obligatory Die Hard bad girl, carrying on a tradition that lasts all the way back to Die Hard With A Vengeance. Of course, maybe 10 minutes after the villain reveals himself, he is thrown off the roof of a building and lands on the tail rotor of an out of control helicopter. When he first revealed himself, I found myself interested in the film for the first time. “Maybe this might actually get kind of good,” I thought. It certainly felt like something resembling a Die Hard movie for once.

Then he was thrown off the roof and into the tail rotor, and the special effects guys unzipped their pants. The bad girl kamikazed the helicopter into the building as both McClanes jumped out of the shattered windows, falling in super slow motion in the foreground while the helicopter crashed and exploded in the background. Down they fell, through an adjacent roof and into a pool of stagnant water, as the explosions in the background swirled about in all their color corrected glory. If one listened closely, through it all, one could hear the precum slipping out of the special effects guys’ dicks as they masturbated. As the sequence reached its crescendo, with both McClanes splashing into the water, the special effects guys ejaculated in unison as the helicopter exploded off in the distance. A statue of Lenin stood in the foreground; his spirit observed their Onanism without judgment.

Prior to all of that, McClane sent the helicopter out of control in the first place by connecting a chain between the helicopter and a vehicle parked inside of it. Climbing into the vehicle, he casually stated: “The shit we do for our kids. Yippie Kie Yay, Motherfucker”. He said this not to another character, but to the audience. He knew that we wanted to hear it, or rather, he thought that we wanted to hear it. In reality, we just wanted a good Die Hard movie. But with the obligatory catchphrase over with, he stepped on the gas and sent the helicopter, along with the Die Hard legacy, spiraling into oblivion.

Kids these days, right?

Through it all, we realize that we will grow old. We are finite beings, destined to perish, and our successes will be buried by the sands of time. Even now, the teens and early 20-somethings of today can be heard saying that the original Die Hard was “the boring one”. We are a nation of Ellises. Like Ellis, these people need to be shot in the face. But Hans Gruber is dead, and no one is left to pull the trigger.

I watched Live Free or Die Hard prior to watching this new film. After viewing both films in their entirety, I was struck by a disturbing revelation. Live Free or Die Hard is better than A Good Day to Die Hard. As much as Die Hard 4’s “hacking the go codes for a fighter jet using the Internet, even though such codes would likely be on a classified network not connected to the Internet” technofuckery sends me into nerd convulsions, Die Hard 4 is the better film. I strongly disliked Live Free or Die Hard when I first saw it. I still kind of do in some ways. But Len Wiseman understands one thing that the director of A Good Day to Die Hard does not: ass. He married Kate Beckinsale. He knows ass, and he knows its importance. Now, ass is a state of mind. It is a state of being. In saying this, I am not saying that ass needs to translate to actual ass in the frame. But with A Good Day to Die Hard, we have the first assless Die Hard film. Maybe I’m not making any sense. It’s late and I’m kind of tired.

What I’m trying to say is that the Ellises of the world know that Die Hard is a recognizable brand name. In their boardroom meetings, they are wont to exclaim: “When people see ‘Die Hard’, they think action!” But Ellis does not understand. Die Hard is about something else entirely. Die Hard was a reaction to the more over-the-top 80s action films of Schwarzenegger and Stallone, much like Lethal Weapon was. Die Hard is not just about shit blowing up. It is about a normal guy trying to not get killed while everyone from the villains to the FBI to the newscasters pointlessly fuck with him. It is not about weapons grade uranium, teaming up with the CIA, or engaging in super slow motion bullshit after Dredd brilliantly eviscerated its usage.

I cannot believe that I have to explain these things. But honestly, if you mentioned Double Indemnity to these guys, they would think that you were talking about “that Ashley Judd movie”.

Anyway, this movie kind of sucked.