Sometimes you just want to watch one good guy with a gun shoot a bunch of bad guys with guns. It’s cathartic, really. And there are few who do this better than police detective John McClane (played by the indefatigable Bruce Willis) in the Die Hard series of films.
In honour of this fun action franchise, and with a SPOILER ALERT for all the movies, we will be counting down the Top 5 Die Hard movies. Welcome to the party pal!
#5 A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)
That’s just no way to sugar coat it – this movie is donkey testicles. After bouncing around the US for the previous four films I did not mind that they set the new film in Russia for a change of scenery. But did they have to make the movie so utterly lifeless and dull? I should never be bored with a Die Hard movie!
The major problem is casting Jai Courtney as McClane’s CIA son. The only time I have seen Courtney give an okay performance was as villain in the Divergent series but other than that he has been as exciting as a mayonnaise sandwich on white bread. But, like “fetch”, Hollywood keeps trying to make him happen. The emotional core of the film is supposed to be the relationship between father and son but the two leads have zero chemistry. Willis is still charming but overall seems to be phoning it in. We do get a decent car chase sequence but other than that it is forgettable villains, a lame plot and paint by numbers action sequences. It was like they were making a generic action movie and they gave it a Die Hard face lift, but no one was fooled. This disaster is a disgrace to the franchise name.
Hard Scale: Flaccid
#4 Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995)
After two movies of solo adventures it was cool to see McClane get a partner in Harlem shopkeeper Zeus Carver (Samuel L. Jackson) and the odd couple are fun together. It was interesting to have the brother of original movie villain Hans Gruber as the new bad guy and Jeremy Irons is deliciously wicked as Simon Gruber. It was also cool to see McClane in New York City and interacting with his own police department though the scenes of the NYC cops are a tad dull.
The format of the movie is changed from a single location to running around the city trying to solve riddles and stop bombs. There are some clever action sequences and stunts but overall the movie is hugely lacking in action and it just left me feeling very unsatisfied. A decent attempt but not the Die Hard we all know and love.
Hard Scale: Weak
#3 Live Free or Die Hard (2007)
One year before we got taken up with Liam Neeson in Taken we had McClane trying to rescue his daughter (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) from Timothy Olyphant’s cyber-terrorist Thomas Gabriel. As a big bad Gabriel is good but not great. Continuing the trend started with Die Hard with a Vengeance McClane has a partner again and this time around it is computer hacker Matt Farrell, played by a perky Justin Long. The pairing is brilliant as Long’s tech savvy nerd and McClane’s stone age tough guy are a hilarious odd couple.
The scale of the action is also taken up a notch and gets the audience’s pulses racing. McClane clashing with a US aircraft and battling villainess Mai Linh (Maggie Q) are two of the standouts. Overall just a fun, exciting film with some laughs thrown in for good measure.
Hard Scale: Solid
#2 Die Hard 2: Die Harder (1990)
For our silver position we have the second Die Hard film. In this outing McClane is stuck in a Washington DC airport and battles vicious mercenaries. It follows some of the beats of the original but it delivers some classic, exhilarating sequences including the helicopter escape and finale hand to hand battles atop the plane. William Sadler is menacing as Colonel Stuart and McClane’s yippe ki-yay as he blows up said plane is my second favourite use of the catchphrase in the entire franchise. And who didn’t enjoy seeing annoying reporter Dick Thornburg get tasered? I know I did.
Hard Scale: Rock Hard
#1 Die Hard (1988)
This number should come as a surprise to no one. The original Die Hard is simply one of the greatest action movies of all time. Unlike other action heroes of the 1980s like Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger Willis’ McClane was no muscle bound beefcake (this was the goofy guy from “Moonlighting”) but an every man cop who found himself in a horrible situation. As a hero he is likable, witty, vulnerable and most of all relatable.
McClane goes up against a group of robbers posing as terrorists led by Hans Gruber, who is brought to life brilliantly by the late Alan Rickman. The plot is tight, the action is breathtaking and the scenes and dialogue iconic. There were many Die Hard imitators but none have ever recaptured the Christmas Eve action magic of the original.
Hard Scale: Titanium
So what is your favourite Die Hard movie? Feel free to comment below.
For more action movie goodness you can check out my review of Jack Reacher: Never Go Back here and my review of John Wick here. And for more testosterone-infused movie lists you can like the MovieVille Facebook page here and you can follow me on Twitter @suprememango012 for updates and other cool stuff.
I got your back like a chiropractor. l8rs