A Good Day to Die Hard is released Friday in the theaters, which means that the wisecracking John McClane, a character that made Bruce Willis a true movie star and action icon way back in 1988, is back in his fifth feature film.
While sequels are not always a guarantee of quality, I really dug how over the top Live Free or Die Hard was. It may have been a break from the more realistic action vibe of the first Die Hard, but I thought Live Free or Die Hard upped the action ante, kept the smart-ass McClane quips, and I’m cautiously looking forward to A Good Day to Die Hard now too.
I even put Live Free or Die Hard at number four on my Top 10 list of Top 10 Fourth Movies in a Franchise, and pointed out my three favorite kickass action scenes, saying:
What made the first Die Hard such a great action movie is that we rooted for Bruce Willis’ underdog detective John McClane with every fiber of our being. After getting in an unresolved argument with his estranged wife, he spent the next two hours wise-cracking his way through hostage situations, gun fights, explosions, and running on broken glass with bare feet. We liked this guy. Well, he’s more than a bit crotchety 19 years later, and although the suspense isn’t nearly as tightly managed as it is in the original, the story is personal again, coming down to McClane having to save his daughter from a hostage situation.
Here’s another reason for hope:
Longtime sitegoer and friend of Scene-Stealers Andrew Reed wrote this Top 10 list about sequels that somehow got a bad name over the years:
In his Top 10 Unfairly Maligned Sequels list, Die Hard 2: Die Harder came in as the #9 movie that doesn’t deserve a bad rap.
Following the smashing success of 1988’s action-packed “Die Hard,” action movies were hyped with the tagline, “It’s like ‘Die Hard’ on a blank.” So by the time “Die Hard 2″ hit theaters in 1990, folks were already sick of the comparison. Once again, we find John McClane in the middle of a criminal operation by pure happenstance.
This time his wife is on a plane while an entire airport is held captive by an organization that is hellbent on the release of an imprisoned terrorist. Crazy coincidences abound, but aside from that, the movie works. The action sequences are memorable, and the evil operation seems determined enough that they really could pull it all off. Critics blasted the film, while audiences gave the movie a big “Yippie ki yay.”
Still, due to the reverence for the first one, many continue to treat “Die Hard on an Airport” as a joke.
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