If there is one thing that Die Hard 5 or, to give it its proper name, “A Good Day to Die Hard” makes clear, is that this franchise has gone well past its sell-by date. This milk has been left far too long in the fridge.
The helmsmen behind this dumb explosion-fest are two Hollywood veterans: Director John Moore, who has racked up such classics as “Max Payne”, “The Omen (2006)” and “Flight of the Phoenix”, along with executive producer Tom Karnowski – another cinematic craftsman who must have narrowly missed Oscar nominations with his sterling offerings: “Season of the Witch” with method actor Nick Cage; “1000 BC”, that historical recreation of ancient times and of course “Driven” with elocution master, Sylvester Stallone.
I can imagine the brief discussion, led by some no doubt svelte, eager studio assistant:
“Hi guys, I’m like Trish from accounting. The bean counters have asked me to, you know, like give you a debrief, well, a sort of guide, a few ideas really on how to really help bring in another blockbuster Die Hard. First of all good news – we got Skip Woods as the writer. You know Skip – he penned “The A Team” and “Hitman”. Loved “Hitman”. Coffee anyone? Scotch? Anyways, like I was saying, here’s ‘the formula’ if you get my drift.
First of all you’ve got to get all that human-interest thing going. Check out Die Hard 4 (“Live Free or Die Hard”): we had Lucy the feisty daughter in danger. Families in danger always go over well – I understand “Taken 3” is in the works. It’s his grandmother who’s kidnapped now. And then there has to be a tearful reunion when they call John McClane ‘dad’. That always, you know, signifies a reunion and love. How about if we introduce a son? That’ll be cool, huh? A sort of ‘like father like son’ sthick.
And the story line has to sound very modern, hip, like we’re on the cutting edge of things. Maybe something to do with stolen nukes in Russia. It’s time to get Russia back as the bad guys. Latest polls show that our audience get confused by all this terrorist stuff; and anyway the Black market, oops, I mean Black audience don’t like us showing too many dark faces as the baddies.
And by the way guys – and I now you all know this from your previous hits. The story doesn’t have to make too much sense. All that ‘sense’ stuff is waaaay overrated. Just slows things down.
And, duh, the craziest explosions, car smashes, big guns, chases on roofs, stunts. Do I need to say more? My boss told me to tell you the word ‘stunts’ in capital letters. Not sure how to do that, but you get what he’s talking about. STUNTS. just makes you feel, like wow, how did they manage to live through all this. But don’t get too much blood and stuff – hey, this ain’t a Tarantino movie you know.
We’ve got to really hate the baddie. But not too much. Research has shown that sometimes really bad baddies can draw attention away from the goodie. Hannibal Lecter! Need I say more? Who remembers poor Clarice?
And of course, guys, you’ve got the man himself – Mr. Badass – Bruce Willis. Don’t get him to do too much acting. Leave that to Wes Anderson. Just get him to smirk a lot so that we really see how tough he is, you know, smirking in the face of danger. Cool? OK cool?
Did you say coffee?