Bruce Willis’ Die Hard series has been alive for over 25 years, and there are reports of a script for a sixth film in the works. When the original was released in 1988, it was so full of vitality that it arguably gave new life to the action genre as a whole, and it’s still one hell of a ride today. Die Hard 2: Die Harder (1990) shifted the setting to an airport and soared fairly high itself. Some critics seem to dump on 1995’s Die Hard with a Vengeance (come on, RottenTomatoes critics, 51%?? Seriously?!), but I loved the pairing with Samuel L. Jackson, the clues around the city, the connection to the first film’s villain, and the presence of McLean’s wife, Holly, although she’s never seen. Live Free or Die Hard (2007) had its moments, but with the exception of Jeepers Creepers and Mac vs. PC commercials, I am not a fan of Justin Long, and the film lost me when McLean stands on the back of a flying fighter jet–I was waiting for him to fly over the Fonz as he jumps the shark, or squeeze into the fridge with Indy (come on, RottenTomatoes critics, 82%?? Seriously?!). A Good Day to Die Hard (2013) should have been titled I Simply Refuse to Die Hard, or Otherwise, although virtually all of its problems are due to the writers, directors, editors, sound mixers…the point is, Willis himself was fine.
At its best, the series is exceptionally smart and inventive; if you need proof, consider the fact that the FBI called Die Hard with a Vengeance screenwriter Jonathan Hensleigh to question him regarding his plotting of the US Federal Reserve heist portrayed in the film. I stumbled across that little tidbit in an article by Kelly Konda over at We Minored in Film. Apparently, the Feds were concerned because they realized Hensleigh’s idea might actually work, which prompted them to rethink security at the Reserve. Check out the original article for more details.
In the meantime, if you happen to talk to Hensleigh, tell him to read Variety‘s 1994 mainly negative review of the film–RottenTomatoes attributes it to Brian Lowry, but the byline on the original article just reads ‘Variety Staff’–which specifically criticizes its “overly involved heist that takes far too long to set up.” I’m pretty sure he’ll laugh…with a vengeance.