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Twentieth Century Fox announced on February 22, 2012 that the fifth Die Hard film, ‘A Good Day to Die Hard’, will be heading to theaters on February 14, 2013 with Bruce Willis returning as the punchline cop John McClane and Jai Courtney playing his son, Jack McClane. However, is this latest installment inspiring excitement or a collective groan from the viewing public?
For example, examine the film that precedes the upcoming Die Hard 5. The fourth installment in the Die Hard franchise, ‘Live Free or Die Hard‘ (2007), made a scarce $134 million domestically, which barely covered its roughly $110 million budget.
Furthermore, the film did not receive overwhelming praise from both critics and fans who were less-than-enthused about the inclusion of Matt Farrell (Justin Long) the hacker who tagged along on McClane’s mission to take down cyber terrorist Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant), nor were they pleased with the PG-13 rating the film boasted: a departure from its predecessors that joyfully used coarse language and violence to their benefit.
All of these detractors suggest that trying to update a franchise widely beloved in the late 1980′s and early 1990′s may not be the way to go. The return of Bruce Willis as John McClane has always been an entertaining experience, but one cannot help but wonder if it is at all necessary considering he seems to be doing well for himself otherwise. Willis is set to star in ‘G. I. Joe: Retaliation’ as well as ‘The Expendables II’—two large budget sequels coming later in 2012.
It is no secret that Willis enjoys playing the character that helped make him the household name he is today, but Willis is getting older and may not have much left to add to his famous role.
An additional worry is the inclusion of Jai Courtney as John McClane’s son, who has yet to appear in any of the previous films. Courtney’s biggest role as of today has been playing Varro in the Starz original series ‘Spartacus: Vengeance.’ His film resume is rather short and while that does not disqualify him from being a good actor, it does generate worry among fans if he can hold up against Bruce Willis. Willis is known for having a commanding presence and Courtney will have his work cut out for him catching up to Willis’ hard-edged portrayal of McClane.
Finally, the initial synopsis for the fifth installment is that the McClanes are dealing with Russian bad guys in Moscow, therefore introducing international issues rather than the usual domestic terrorism that McClane usually gets tangled up in. While this is an interesting development in the plot, early reports say that Jack McClane is a chip off the old block, meaning he and his father will be competing for the tough guy award.
This interaction can get tiring when John McClane has already proven the fact that he is without a doubt one of the toughest (and funniest) detectives in cinema history and needs not prove himself to his estranged son.
The script has been written by Skip Woods, whose resume may cause some anxiety among Die Hard fans. Woods wrote the screenplay for ‘The A-Team’ (2010), which had excellent dialogue, but also wrote the screenplay for ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’, the universally panned X-Men spin-off, and ‘Hitman’ (2007), which was widely slammed by fans of the original video game and by nearly every film critic in the business.
So far, A Good Day to Die Hard is not off to a good start, but the cast and crew have a year to change the fans’ minds. Use it well.