Die Hard 4 to come out in ten months

The Hollywood Reporter, via Reuters, reports that 20th Century Fox announced yesterday that Live Free or Die Hard — yes, that’s the name, and it’s dumb, but then, so was Die Hard, if you think about it — will open June 29. The new film will be directed by Len Wiseman, director of the Underworld movies (2003-2006), and it just might be filmed in Vancouver. Reports the Reporter:

The story centers on an attack on America’s computer infrastructure that begins to shut the country down. The mysterious figure behind the scheme has figured out every digital angle but never counts on Willis’ old-fashioned, “analog” character, John McClane.

Sounds interesting, I guess. But it must be asked: Does the world really need, or even want, a new Die Hard movie?

The first film, based on Roderick Thorp’s Nothing Lasts Forever (my comments) and released in 1988, is a classic, and it virtually saved the action-movie genre. At a time when flops like Stallone’s Rambo III and Schwarzenegger’s Red Heat were causing some pundits to predict the demise of the action hero, Bruce Willis, then a mere TV star, came along to show how great an action movie could be — indeed, how much an action movie could matter — if the hero was given a strong dose of humanity.

Brief personal tangent: Since the first film came out when I was 17 — over half a lifetime ago! — it was one of the very, very few movies that I “snuck into” before I was old enough to see anything I liked without adult accompaniment. Though I didn’t really “sneak” into it, per se; the woman at the counter just didn’t bother to ask me how old I was. I had already seen a number of films that were rated R in the United States, because they were rated 14-A in British Columbia; Die Hard, however, was a solid 18-A.

Die Hard 2: Die Harder (1990) was almost exactly like the first film — thanks to a few unlikely narrative coincidences, it brought back almost all the surviving characters from the first film, who once again find themselves dealing with terrorists on Christmas Eve — but in a bigger, badder, and grimmer sort of way. It’s more of a mutated clone of the original than a sequel, but at least it showed that the filmmakers were trying to keep as many ingredients as possible of what had been a highly successful recipe.

For those who found the first sequel kind of embarrassing, Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995) was originally billed as a return to form — look, it even had the same director as the first film! — but it has never really worked for me, not least because it loses the family-guy aspect that made John McClane so interesting in the first place, and its few fumbling attempts to keep that element in the script just make the absence even more annoying. Quite frankly, if it doesn’t have Bonnie Bedelia, then it ain’t a Die Hard movie. Plus, this movie eschewed the unity of time and place that marked the first two movies, though possibly as a reaction against all the other films that had imitated it — Speed (1994) had been “Die Hard on a bus”, Under Siege (1992) had been “Die Hard on a boat”, etc. In hindsight, this film looks like one of the earlier mis-steps in director John McTiernan‘s slide to irrelevance, and the Pulp Fiction (1994) in-jokes also feel kind of dated, now.

And now, there will be a fourth film. The first three films were produced over a span of seven years. The gap between the third and fourth films will be almost twice that, at twelve years. Does anyone really want to see John McClane again? Was it the character, all by himself, who was so interesting the first time, or was it the larger matrix in which that character found himself?

Suffice to say my hopes aren’t too high for this new movie.

About Peter T. Chattaway

Peter T. Chattaway was the regular film critic for BC Christian News from 1992 to 2011. In addition to his film column, which won multiple awards from the Evangelical Press Association, the Canadian Church Press and the Fellowship of Christian Newspapers, his news and opinion pieces have appeared in such publications as Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Bible Review and the Vancouver Sun. He also contributed essays to the books Re-Viewing The Passion: Mel Gibson’s Film and Its Critics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004) and Scandalizing Jesus?: Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation of Christ Fifty Years on (Continuum, 2005).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15893089391441423862 Wasp Jerky

    Does this mean we’ll have to sit through Lethal Weapon 5?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07395937367596387523 Peter T Chattaway
  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11340006144797496514 RC

    how funny wasp jerky and peter!

    they’re spinning that movie out really quick!

    –RC of strangeculture.blogspot.com

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17492591447246532970 jasdye

    is it b/c you guys work in media that you’ll ‘have to sit’ through those movies.

    or are we all just fascinated by train wrecks (as i am anticipating Rocky XX)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07395937367596387523 Peter T Chattaway

    Well, I’m also a completist, and there are times when I’ll watch an entire movie franchise in one sitting, just to see how it gets better or (more likely) worse over time.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08707335033990525130 Mulberry Panda 96

    Nice write-up! I agree that “Die Hard: With a Vengeance” needed Bonnie Bedelia in it, although I did like the fact that John and Holly’s marriage didn’t work out in the long run. That seemed like a stab at realism (possibly brought about by Bedelia not being able to negotiate the contract she wanted) amidst the over-the-top action. I also liked that “Die Hard 3″ wasn’t confined to one general location and wasn’t set on Christmas Eve … but I didn’t like the movie.

    “Die Hard 2″ isn’t as good as I thought it was when it came out (I was 14), and it might have benefited from John McTiernan’s direction instead of Renny Harlin’s in the long run, but who knows. I’ll see “Live Free or Die Hard,” but I’m not expecting much, although any movie with Jeffrey Wright is worth seeing for his performance. And Timothy Olyphant might be great as the bad guy.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08707335033990525130 Robert

    So what did you think of “Die Hard 4″? I liked it quite a bit, although the ending was a letdown, as was the villain, but those were two problems that “Die Hard 3″ shared (“Die Hard 2″ lacked a strong villain as well). I thought the PG-13 rating wasn’t a problem, because when I watched “Die Hard 2″ again recently, I couldn’t believe how often the F word was used. (I felt like my mom writing that. I’m definitely getting older.)

    IMDB was dead wrong last year about Jeffrey Wright being in the movie. I wonder where they got that misinformation.


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