I'm going to preface everything I'm about to type at you with the brand new, theatrical trailer for 's A Good Day to Die Hard. It's an exciting, action-jammed two and a half minutes. Give 'er a look.
Snarky, plenty of explosions, lots going on, and two leads in and that, just based on the trailer alone, you know are going to absolutely kick all of the asses regardless of what they're up against. I submit that it's going to be a lot of fun...but it's not Die Hard to me, and that's certainly not the John McClane I grew up watching.
McClane used to be an average joe with an above average ability to take heavy doses of punishment. He was a down on his luck New York City street detective, dealing with marital problems, trying to be a good father, and suddenly finding himself prone to perpetually being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The story of 1988's Die Hard was so endearing because McClane wasn't John Rambo, or Dutch from Predator. He was just a dude that knew his way around a firearm, and didn't take no for an answer. He got his ass kicked, a lot, and survived pretty dire situations out of sheer tenacity and dumb luck. Basically, he didn't win pretty, but he won, and that's what was so fun about the character. There was something to relate to there. This theme remains basically intact throughout the sequels of Die Hard 2, and most of Die Hard with a Vengeance. His motivations are simple; so long as he's being wrangled into a shitty situation, he's gonna do his duty as a cop, and as the second film suggests, his wife remains a top motivator in spite of everything else. Even in teaming up with in the third installment, he's still the reluctant but willing good guy roped into a cat-and-mouse game by ' Simon Gruber. McClane is just a guy that can't catch a break.
Then, something weird happened. Specifically, Live Free or Die Hard happened.
John McClane, former underdog and before noted average joe, is suddenly numbered amongst the action movie badasses we're accustomed to seeing. He's right up there with Dutch, Rambo, Bourne, Dominic Toretto, and even Bond. Don't believe me? Would John McClane circa 1988 have been up to pulling this off?
He threw a car...at a helicopter. Not even that, he just kinda knew that's how the physics would play out. Somehow, McClane in his mid-thirties was less hardcore than McClane pushing fifty.
John has evolved, and in that, the Die Hard series has shifted within the action genre. These really are a new variety of film now. Underdog hero stories are a different animal than always-gonna-win tough guy flicks. Depending on who you are, you're either going to love the character evolution, or you're gonna be turned off by the new set of rules. It's basically the difference between Red Dawn (I only acknowledge the original) and True Lies, but in the same film franchise. I'm not saying this is bad. If anything, I find it interesting. I'm not going to pretend I don't think the trailer for A Good Day to Die Hard doesn't look fun; a swaggering John McClane and son knowing, in the face of great odds, that they're going to win no matter what is going to at least be big, outlandish, popcorn fare.
You know -- unless John dies. Then, holy shit.
What's your take on the evolution of the Die Hard franchise? Are you excited to see the latest film, or do you pine for simpler times when John McClane was picking glass out of his feet and talking trash to ? Maybe you're one of the folks that's been game for each entry into the series. Whichever it is, we've got a comment section, and you should totally use it.
A Good Day to Die Hard arrives in theaters February 14, 2013.