Thursday, July 12, 2007

Live Free or Die Hard… Well, Not So Much

I’m a big fan of the Die Hard franchise. I remember seeing the first one in the theater and being blown away at the dawning of the modern day action movie (the movie's tagline was "It will blow you through the back wall of the theater!"), as Bruce Willis—despite my current hatred for most of the movie roles he has made in his recent career (Last Man Standing, wtf was that crap?)—helped create the loan hero action movie. I’ve probably seen Die Hard three dozen times, and I am always impressed by its gritty realism, despite the fact that the first punch to the head he took would have probably put him on the ground for good. But that’s what makes for a good action movie: The hero gets knocked down but still manages to take out the bad guys and utter a witty hyperbole at the best possible moment. He saves the girl, saves the day and restores our faith in America. That's what it's all about.

Most importantly, it was Rated R as it should have been (as were the second and third films), for its violence and language. How can you have an action movie where many people are killed in gruesome ways without swearing. Saying, “Oh darn, I just stepped on glass as machine gun bullets are whizzing around me,” somehow just doesn’t cut it. I want to hear explicative shouted… and the John McClane trademarked “Yippee-ki-yay, MF!” (MF rhymes with “other trucker,” but you probably knew that. Hey, this is a family blog).

And this segues us nicely into the point of my rant. After 12 years without a Die Hard movie to sink my teeth into, I was delighted to hear that a new one was coming out, “Live Free or Die Hard,” and the trailers sounded promising. Here, see for yourself.

Yesterday, I plunked down $7.25 for the matinee showing and sat in the theater, all by myself, for two and a half hours, only to be disappointed by the movie. The John McClane that I had known had become a softy, with feelings and emotions. The first five minutes of the movie isn’t him duking it out with Steyr-armed German terrorists or jumping onto the wing of a taxiing airplane… he’s pleading with his daughter about their relationship.

And it’s PG-13. PG-freakin-13! Do you know what else is PG-13? Yeah, movies that 13-year olds go to! I’m nearing three times that age and watching a movie where you can see the actors talking but what they’re saying isn’t what you’re hearing because they’ve over-dubbed all of the language so as not to scorch our ever-so-impressionable 13-year olds’ ears, makes for a ridiculous experience. I know Bruce Willis just yelled, “I’m going to f***in’ kill you,” because, 1) He always says that in these movies; and 2) I just saw him say it. There was one scene between Willis and Justin Long, where very little of what we heard was actually being said by the two actors.

For me, it ruined the credibility of the movie, and it just goes to show you that marketing and the aggrandizement of commercialization can take control of the creative process and destroy its potential. I work in the publishing field, so this is something I know a great deal about...if you can't sell advertising against the article, they won't let you print the article. Free speech? Yeah, right, to the highest bidder.

But I digress.

A final example: The line "Yippee-ki-yay, MF!" is used in all four Die Hard movies, but instead of it being prominently displayed in this one, like in all the others, oddly placed gunfire masks the f-word part in “Live Free or Die Hard.” I was looking forward to hearing how they would use the line, and instead of that feeling you get when you hear Arnold Schwarzenegger say, “I’ll be back,” it was as if he said instead, “I’ll be returning shortly.”

Plus, the movie was predictable, but what was more predictable than this movie being predictable was the fact that I predicted that it would be predictable, especially when they dragged McClane’s daughter into it. Two hours into the movie, guess who’s the hostage?

Not to mention, the bad guys had every opportunity to kill everyone and get away Scot-free, but they don't. Instead, like a bad cliche, he shares too much information and allows his schemes to be spoiled at the last minute.

And some of the scenes were completely improbable. For example, McClane takes on an F-35, probably one of the most advanced fighter jets in the world, and the pilot uses three missiles and still can’t seem to hit a slow-moving semi-tractor trailer. As part of the general public, let me just say this: Hey 20th Century Fox. We’re not that stupid. We’ve seen what these things can do in Iraq every night on the six-o’clock news, and there’s no way anyone can jump onto the back of one that’s moving… oh yeah, and survive a direct hit from its GAU-12/U Equalizer, a five-barrel 25mm Gatling gun capable of 4200 rounds per minute (yeah, I looked it up). It tore off the hood, the cab, the sleeper, most of the trailer, but McClane ducks his head and he’s okay. Wow, how is that possible, even in an action movie? One bullet travelling at 3200 feet per second would go from one end of that truck to the other without even slowing down.

But, again, I digress.

I guess the movie really was made for 13-year-olds who have only seen a scant few examples of movies in the action genre and don’t know any better. Oh well. You know what, if you like a sugary-sweet version of something that once was a great respite from all of the date movies and the warm and fuzzy feel-good flicks that we are forced to suffer through year after year, then you might like this one. Me? I’ll watch the original and pretend the fourth one never happened.

One last thing: “Live Free or Die Hard.” Why the hell didn’t it take place in New Hampshire? At least part of it. Any of it. It’s like having the “Treasure of Sierra Madre” take place in the Appalachians… I know, it’s a bad example because the movie takes place in Mexico, but you get my point.

I just hope there’s not another one. I wouldn’t be surprised if some idiot in his big Hollywood office overlooking a movie studio backlot is, right at this moment, looking over the script for “Daughter of Die Hard,” set to star Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Lucy McClane, seeking vengeance for her aged father’s death at the hands of Muslim extremists bent on blowing up her college dormitory in order to create a distraction for an undercover terrorist faction who have travelled back in time from 2032 to kill the mother of the unborn man that discovered the secret to world peace and social harmony... and global warming.

Just you wait for it, coming soon to theaters near you.

Hopefully not near me.


Robert said...

Gritty reality huh?

the only good thing about the die hard series of films is when they are broadcast on television and they have to substitute the cursing with terms like "Mellon Farmer" and "Frog and Ash Mole"

unbelievable action requires similarly creative use of the English language. those dubbers can take an entire movie up a few notches in entertainment value.

but as for the rating, the only good accurate thing the MPAA can gauge is a "G" rated film. Their entire system is inconsistent and fluctuates like the tide.

Ryan or Kara said...

Boy, you said it. If movies like "10 Things I Hate About You" and "50 First Dates" get the same rating as a Die Hard movie, there's got to be something wrong with the system. Of course, those that rate movies are completely out of touch with reality. Have they heard the way 13-year olds speak these days? John McCane would blush.


web site tracking
Sierra Trading Post