Die Hard 5: A Step Too Far?

July 13, 2012 7:51 pm

Principal Photography recently started in earnest on the latest instalment of the Die Hard film franchise. This latest blockbuster movie, A Good Day to Die Hard, released in 2013, comes twenty-four years after the original. Bruce Willis will once again don the white vest and attempt to foil some kind of terrorist scheme/save some people/ blow most of the surrounding area up for the majority of two hours. The first three films were all received extremely well by the viewing public, while the first remains one of the most popular films of all time, ranking 105 in IMDB’s Top 250 films. Twelve years after the third film was released, a fourth came to our screens in 2007 but while still being a financial success for 20th Century Fox, it wasn’t loved by the fans. Many assumed this negative reaction would be the end of the Die Hard series but with the latest sequel shooting at the time of writing, it seems these films really will die hard.

It is unclear whether the new film will match the success of its predecessors. The negative reputation of fourth movie Live Free and Die Hard seemed to suggest that fans were not keen on seeing an older John McClane surviving seemingly insurmountable odds to succeed in a fight that he didn’t even need to be involved in. It seemed too unlikely that Bruce Willis, 57, would have been able to do half the stunts in real life. Added to the ridiculous and unbelievable nature of some of the action sequences, the entire film smacked of producers taking the viewers for granted and greedy executives rebooting the franchise to capitalise on the previous three films’ successes. Will Willis be able to convince the viewing public that he is able to fight through a two-hour movie and still be standing at the end of it? The 2007 release obviously saw Bruce Willis a lot older than he was in 1995s Die Hard with a Vengeance and suffered in the same way as the fourth Indiana Jones did a year later in 2008. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull featured an older Indie and criticism was levied towards Harrison Ford for looking his age and it not realistic that he would have been able to actually do the stunts that his character did in the film. It’s interesting that even after the fourth Die Hard received that kind of negative response, the studio still feel that it is worth sending John McClane off on another adventure. It is worth noting that whilst there is nothing wrong with older actors taking on action roles –and some have done it very well in the past– the performance of Willis in Live Free and Die Hard was disappointing and dragged the entire film down.

As to be expected, hardly any information has been released about the plot of the new film but the basic premise is that John McClane goes to Russia in order to save his son. One wonders if setting at least some of the movie outside the USA might revitalise the series and make it more attractive (read: profitable) to other countries. But doubts will still remain until the release day about the plausibility of the film and whether it will live up to the success of the original three films, the first in particular.

20th Century Fox, and indeed Willis himself, must still believe that the Die Hard series will continue to be a hit with audiences and that it will gross sizeable financial returns because Hollywood studios don’t commission commercially unsuccessful ventures. But whilst they are excited about seeing the finished product, many people who looked forward to the 2007 film and left the cinema feeling disappointed might spare themselves the bother this time around. In a similar manner to Star Wars The Phantom Menace, released in 1999, the 2007 Die Hard film was hyped up by fans who hoped that it would hit the heady highs of the previous instalments. However, after seeing that the film wasn’t as good as previously thought, the negative responses flowed thick and fast. Can the fifth McClane movie survive the bad press?

The first three Die Hard films, the first in particular, are extremely popular –as evidenced by their ranking on the IMDB website. The 21st Century reboot of the franchise has so far failed to live up to expectations just as reboots of Indiana Jones and Star Wars have failed before. It remains to be seen whether this latest attempt to return to the success of the past is a box office success for John McClane or whether it will spell the end of a very long career in saving the world.

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