Die Hard 6, AKA Die Hard: Year One, now just McClane, will reunite audiences with Bruce Willis as one of the greatest characters in action movie history, Detective John McClane, Sr. McClane will also introduce us to a pre-Nakatomi version of the legendary cop. According to producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura, the film will jump back and forth between present-day John McClane, now in his 60s, and a young, 20-something-year-old Officer McClane during his early days in the NYPD.
With the recent news that the title had been simplified to just a name rather than a sentence like half the films in the franchise, I thought I’d ask the question that has been asked about at least the last couple of Die Hard flicks: Do we really need another one?
Before I answer this incredibly deep and thought-provoking query, I thought I’d share my thoughts on each film in this iconic franchise so that you, dear reader, will better understand my answer. Ready? Yippee ki-yay, motherfuckers.
Die Hard (1988) – I was 10 years old when the first Die Hard came out. Given that fact, my best friend’s father decided to take us both to see it anyways. My first R-rated movie in the theater. It was so awesome that I ended up puking afterwards. It certainly couldn’t have been that I mixed Twizzlers and Sno-Caps while I was watching it. Back then, I couldn’t really comprehend that this was a near-perfect action movie; I didn’t really have a basis for comparison. I had seen parts of Predator when my father rented it on VHS, but my parents wouldn’t let me watch the whole thing. What I do remember about Die Hard is that John McClane was a badass, Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) was menacing, necks got broken, and explosions were plentiful. And I think Bruce Willis picking shards of glass out of his foot traumatized me. For these reasons, the first Die Hard will always hold a special place in my heart. Thanks for an amazing experience, John McTiernan.
Die Hard 2 (1990) –While the sequel, directed by Renny Harlin, doesn’t seem to be as universally loved as the first film, Die Hard 2, AKA Die Hard 2: Die Harder, made almost twice as much as Die Hard did at the box office. Personally, I loved the second one almost as much as the first. The villain, Colonel William Stuart (played by William Sadler), was just as ruthless as Hans Gruber, and even more unhinged. The fact that this was basically a domestic terrorist was also new ground for my 12-year-old brain. I loved the snowy setting of Christmastime at a busy Washington, DC, airport, the high-stakes of having Holly Gennero (Gennaro?), John McClane’s wife, on one of the planes Col. Stuart threatens to bring down (along with hundreds of other people, I guess), the twist of the special forces team being in cahoots with Stuart, and the whole icicle in the eye bit. And who can forget Marvin and his coat? Without good ol’ Marv, John McClane probably wouldn’t have had a chance at spoiling Stuart’s plan. All in all, Die Hard 2 is a fantastic action flick.
Die Hard With A Vengeance (1995) – John McTiernan returned to direct the third installment in the franchise, and added Samuel L. Jackson, who plays Zeus, as a companion to Bruce Willis’s John McClane. The film also features a fantastic turn by Jeremy Irons as Hans Gruber’s vengeful brother, Simon. I remember feeling like the time between the second and third Die Hard flicks lasted forever, and that there was a lot of hype surrounding Vengeance when it came out. I, for one, thought it lived up to much of that hype. Willis and Jackson were great together, and the whole Simon Says, race-against-time thing it had going on made for a thrilling ride. This movie, almost as much as the first Die Hard, also provided my friends and I with plenty of quotes to shoot back and forth. All this makes it surprising to me that Vengeance is currently sitting at just 52% on Rotten Tomatoes. It certainly deserves better than that.
Live Free Or Die Hard (2007) – Well, if I thought five years was a long time to wait to get Die Hard With A Vengeance, the twelve years it took to get Live Free Or Die Hard was an eternity. Unfortunately, it wasn’t worth the wait, at least not to me. And this is coming from someone who enjoyed the first two Underworld movies, which were also directed by Len Wiseman. This installment introduces Justin Long as annoying hacker Matthew Farrell, Mary Elizabeth Winstead as John McClane’s daughter, Lucy Gennaro (Gennero?) McClane, Timothy Olyphant as the villainous Thomas Gabriel, Maggie Q as Gabriel’s henchwoman, Mai Linh, and, for some reason, Kevin Smith as another hacker named Frederick “Warlock” Kaludis. Because of how I felt about the previous Die Hard films, I reeeeaaallly wanted to like Live Free. It just wasn’t happening, however. Willis seemed to not care as much, the action was sub par, and the villain was weak. A big, disappointing step down from the first three movies, Live Free or Die Hard is, in my opinion, the worst film in the franchise. So far.
A Good Day To Die Hard (2013) – The fifth film in the franchise, directed by John Moore (Behind Enemy Lines, Flight of the Phoenix, Max Payne), is widely regarded as the worst Die Hard movie, but to me it’s much more enjoyable than Live Free Or Die Hard. Not to say that I think A Good Day To Die Hard is a very good movie. I don’t. But I’d rather watch it over its predecessor. This movie reunites John McClane with his estranged son, Jack, an undercover CIA Agent, played by Jai Courtney. Together, they team up to stop some Russian nuclear terrorists, even traveling to Chernobyl to do so. Yes, this installment was just as ludicrous as it sounds. And, yes, Willis basically phones it in, but I maintain that it’s the second-worst Die Hard flick. One thing I have to say is that since this movie came out, I feel like Courtney has kind of gotten a bad rap. I don’t see the guy winning an Oscar anytime soon, but I didn’t mind him in this movie, or in most other movies I’ve seen him in. Anyway, we all hoped for better with this one, and it didn’t deliver. It seemed like they were trying to pass the torch to a younger McClane, which just didn’t work out. We all thought that this was last Die Hard film we’d ever get, what with Willis’s advancing age and seeming disinterest to go along with the declining audience reception. Oh, well. There’s always next time, right?
Which brings me to my answer to whether we need another Die Hard movie: of course we don’t. No new Die Hard will ever be as good as any of the first three. The thing that cements it for me is that Len Wiseman, the director of my least favorite Die Hard film, is returning to helm McClane. I’m not exactly pumped about that. I also can’t help but think they’re going to try to pass the torch again to whoever is going to play a young John McClane and attempt to give us a few films that chronicle his adventures before he stepped foot in Nakatomi Plaza. So, no, we don’t need another Die Hard. I’m not even sure we want another one.