The Kidd here...
As a way to get you ready for next week's release of A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD, 20th Century Fox has released a new featurette entitled "A Walk Down Memory McClane," which is exactly what it sounds like it is - a highlight reel of sorts of those fond moments you hold near and dear to your heart from the previous four movies... okay the first three DIE HARD films, because let's get real - does anyone really take away anything good from the fourth flick as a legitimate entry in the DIE HARD franchise?
However, what's interesting in watching this a couple times is how noticeable the tonal shift is in the series, starting with DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE. There's a different look to the film, first off, but we also start to see the seeds being planted for a different John McClane... one that involves having a sidekick moving forward, one that leads to him acting more as a hero than as someone simply fighting to survive. The action pieces started to get bigger... and suddenly DIE HARD began being more about the spectacle than about this simple everyman being the wrong guy caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. The DIE HARD series was now missing the one thing that it always had going for it - that John McClane was relatable. We, as the audience, could put ourselves in John McClane's shoes, or lack thereof. It's a lot harder to do that when the hero is no longer us, but some glorified action star.
What happened with LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD reminds me of what happened with BEVERLY HILLS COP III, which is that Eddie Murphy became more concerned with Axel Foley becoming what he wanted him to be rather than what he was. Bruce Willis may be complicit in the same way, in viewing John McClane as an action icon and not as a regular cop. Look... there's nothing wrong with BEVERLY HILLS COP III or LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD if you call them something else. If you call them "generic Eddie Murphy action flick" or "new Bruce Willis action movie," they may satisfy what someone is looking for on that front, but, when you attach that name, it becomes very difficult to deviate from everything fans have come to know about the series by doing the polar opposite.
I get the concern about A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD. Based off LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD, they are entirely valid... hell, for me, I saw this coming a whole movie even before that... but I'm still holding out hope that this fifth entry into the series can get back to basics. I get that the action is going to be bigger. That's just the way it is when audiences constantly want bigger, louder, faster... but, especially in what I've seen of McClane's relationship with his son... that may be where DIE HARD gets back to doing what made it so successful in the first place - by getting John McClane back to a place where we can see ourselves being him. It shouldn't be about blowing up helicopters with cop cars or having showdowns with jet fighters.
That said, we'll find out in the not-too-distant future whether or not February 14 (the 13th for those of you doing the marathon) will indeed be A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD or a very bad one.
"The Infamous Billy The Kidd"
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