Saturday, December 16, 2006


Hey, the brand new trailer for Die Hard 4: Live Free or Die Hard is online and it's...adequate.

Actually, it's kind of bad. Very, and I hate to say this, Ratnerian. It has a distinctively Ratneriffic quality that I found distasteful. I know that the series is bound to update its look for the times. This is the third decade in which Bruce Willis will be starring as Detective John McClane, so you can't expect the movies to look or feel alike necessarily. (And in the case of Die Harder and several extended portions of Die Hard With a Vengeance, you can't expect them to be any good.)

But still, this doesn't look like the style has been updated to fit in the contemporary aesthetic. It just looks like any possible Die Hard-ness has been drained out in favor of Michael Bay's standard acrobatic cars routine. Why these directors have such an obsession with flinging CG cars around, I have no idea. John Landis flung real cars around in The Blues Brothers 25 years ago, and that wasn't even an action movie.

Okay, so those are my reservations. I still think there's a good chance this movie will kick ass, and that it's just a bad, misleading trailer. The director is Len Wiseman, the guy who did those Underworld movies and tagged their star, Kate Beckinsale. I still haven't seen the first film, but the second one looked really cool and atmospheric, and had a few solid, well-shot action scenes. Granted, it was a lot more effects-heavy than any Die Hard movie ought to be, but still, I think the guy probably has the chops to pull off a summer action comedy. That is, if the script's any good, Willis is still up to the task and all the million other things that could potentially go wrong don't. The premise, in which hackers hold the United States hostage by threatening to shut down our economy electronically, sounds a bit dicey for this series, but then again it has a solid cast (that includes Jeffrey Wright and Maggie Q.)

Talkbackers on Aint it Cool have expressed problems with the trailer's lone line of dialogue, Justin Long's character asking McClane if he's "ever done anything like this before?" I don't see how you can object to that joke, when every other Die Hard movie contains those same kind of cheesy allusions to the other movies. Remember Die Harder? "What are the chances of the same thing happening to one guy twice?"

There seems to be a bit of pushback against this new wave of '80s action-nostalgia. In addition to a Die Hard sequel and a Miami Vice adaptation, we've got a new Rocky movie set to open with plans for a Rambo update to follow, a live-action Transformers film, a "Terminator" TV series on the way, talk of reviving the Robocop franchise, the possibility of an additional Beverly Hills Cop film and Jean-Claude Van Damme's return in Rush Hour 3. (Obviously, there's always rumors flying about a new Indiana Jones film, but that has been going on forever and isn't really part of this new trend.) I guess this is all to be expected.

People my age grew up with these movies and they are now becoming increasingly influential in the motion picture industry. We like Transformers and Eddie Murphy and Sylvester Stallone movies, goddammit. (So they're reviving Beverly Hills Cop...How about giving Cobra or Over the Top a shot at a sequel?)

I think the next few years will be fun, personally, if a bit bloated and over-the-hill and ridiculous, and even bittersweet. This is the last hurrah for my boyhood screen heroes, really the last generation of burly, lunky Hollywood action stars. After these guys, the action heroes started to look more like Keanu Reeves and Christian Bale, comic book adolescents who obtain power using their creativity, scientific know-how and sweet computer hacking skills rather than via protein shakes and squat thrusts. It's the end of an era, and it's only right that we send out the '80s action film in an orgiastic fireball of sophomoric blood-drenched testosterone.

1 comment:

Reel Fanatic said...

Wow ... "Ratnerian"? .. It just doesn't get much meaner than that, but methinks you may be just right ... Here's hoping against hope that this Die Hard doesn't just suck hard