Die Hard takes the fifth
T’S been 25 years since Bruce Willis brought the character of John McClane to the big screen in the explosive action film Die Hard.
But the franchise shows no signs of going into retirement with the fifth film – A Good Day to Die Hard – rolling into cinemas today with guns blazing.
Willis jokes he’s not certain why the franchise keeps going, but he says everyone knows it’s time to do another Die Hard movie when someone comes up with ‘‘a complicated title that no one understands’’.
‘‘We had just gotten to where we thought we understood Live Free or Die Hard and now we have A Good Day to Die Hard, which I have to admit I’m a little baffled about,’’ Willis says.
Willis does have some serious ideas as to why Die Hard won’t die. It isn’t all of the explosions and big stunts; it’s a good story with a theme of family.
In A Good Day to Die Hard, McClane travels to Russia when his son Jack (Aussie Jai Courtney) is arrested and ends up in the middle of an international situation.
Then there’s John McClane. Willis says people can relate to the character because he’s a guy who thinks he has everything in control – but doesn’t.
His final theory: The Die Hard movies are like a big roller coaster. They offer thrills and excitement with a hint of danger that make them a fun ride. Creating that excitement is the goal each time Willis slips back into the John McClane role.
Director John Moore views the Die Hard movies as modern-day Westerns.
‘‘ Die Hard is a brilliantly scripted, brilliantly plotted thriller. It has some explosions. But, ultimately, its plot is always oriented like a Western,’’ Moore says.
‘‘A man comes to town. He’s outnumbered. He has morality on his side. He uses ingenuity and determination to do the right thing. It’s got more John Wayne than anything else.
‘‘It’s about a guy whose doing something morally correct for his family, as opposed to stopping submarine plots. It’s always been about his family.
‘‘People struggle to understand why Die Hard is such a standout action film. It’s because it isn’t an action film. It’s a Western.’’
The films have offered hints to the Western heritage from the first film. McClane’s famous catch phrase of ‘‘Yippee-Ki-Yay (expletive deleted)’’ was a line Willis improvised as a response to the film’s villain, Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) referring to McClane as a cowboy.
And cowboys get mentioned in the latest film as the chief reason why the villain hates Americans.
No matter the reasons, the Die Hard franchise just keeps going – much to the surprise of Willis.
‘‘No one ever knew at the beginning that we were going to be doing five of these films,’’ he says.
‘‘It’s a strange, great honour to get to run down the street and do what we do and make it look fun and scary, sometimes, and interesting and still have the core of the character there.’’
Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney and Sebastian Koch star in