We all know the Die Hard series. The first one is the best Christmas movie ever, the second has Colm Meaney flying a plane into the ground, the third has detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) hurtling around New York powered by Samuel L Jackson’s incredulity, and the fourth and most recent instalment has a creaking plot about cyber-terrorism comprised of the sort of language you’d expect to find on an AOL dial-up disc from 1997.
The relative merits of each Die Hard are hotly debated, although the first is widely, and rightly, considered the best. It transformed Willis from a smirking TV star to Hollywood’s next big action hero, and offered a humorous, human alternative to the invincible supermen played by Stallone and Schwarzenegger.
Willis himself reveals issues with “the middle two films” in a 20-minute chat with Die Hard 4.0 co-star Kevin Smith on the fourth disc (the best and most candid extra in what’s mostly a promo-esque bunch). He pins it down to an industry still figuring out how to make sequels work, but equally problematic is that the whole ‘same shit happening to the same guy twice’ angle undermines the original film’s Average (shoeless) Joe appeal.
Die Hard With A Vengeance at least has viable reasons for dragging McClane back to hell, and moves the action away from shooting terrorists in a glass-fronted building.
And while Willis considers Die Hard 4.0 the true successor to the original, scenes of our hero taking out fighter jets with virtually his bare hands make McClane look more detached and invulnerable than ever.