I watched Die Hard 4 the other day. Yes, I know, don’t blame me, it’s not like I chose the flick. The 12 year old part-time resident of the household left it lying about and his father caught sight of it before I could hide it under the couch.
I believe the full title was something like Die Hard 4: Die Career, as in Bruce Willis’ must have been doing just that when he agreed to make this film. Or maybe that’s just my prejudice against bad 80s action heroes trying to relive the grandeur of their youth by traipsing out yet another instalment in better-left-dead ancient movie franchises. I keep telling myself that just because I think it’s totally ridiculous for a guy who must be, what, 90 or something by now, to still be trying to save the world by beating up on his designated bad guy, that doesn’t mean the rest of the movie watching world does too.
Hey, there’s always going to be a willing audience for truly shoddy DVDs. What’s more, I’ll probably always be a happy part of it.
Truth is, I’m a sucker for a seriously dodgy movie and bad over-budgeted Hollywood action flicks are some of the dodgiest around, so I didn’t really mind. Sure, I would have preferred a good zombie flick or maybe something from the 80s starring Kurt Russell, but as DH4 was what happened to be lying around the house, then so be it, I’ll risk a watch. And, you know, it was rather well done, in the Hollywood action movie stakes. Didn’t come anywhere close to The Shooter for really shoddy Hollywood action enjoyment value, and at least the latter was (*gulp*) original (well, it didn’t have a number following its title), but you know, DH4 it was fun. While it was on.
It was what you might call a One Night Stand movie: rent it, watch it, forget it.
See, I’m something of a player when it comes to shoddy DVD flicks, I have to admit. I love ‘em and leave ‘em, onto the next before I’m barely out of bed with the last. You can’t afford to think beyond the surface superficialities of a shoddy DVD, nor offer any interest beyond the 89 minutes of run time up on your screen, or else you’ll suddenly realise exactly what kind of shite it is you’re watching and choke on your own wasted education.
But while it’s on, it’s on. Go with it baby and enjoy the ride, heh.
Anyway, I did struggle a bit to get into this one, for all it fulfilled its brief rather well (brief: explosion, shooting, explosion, contrived sarcasm from hero, explosion, more shooting, car chase, explosion, bad guys killed, happy ending.) Despite what I was seeing on screen, I couldn’t quite ignore the niggling thought at the back of the head that Bruce Willis could actually, well, act – and to think while watching a movie such as this is entertainment suicide. But I swear I remember him acting at some point, back in the late 90s I think, around the time Shyamalan was still making good films, and so was Tarantino. (Oh, okay, so I haven’t seen a Tarantino film yet which I haven’t liked… then again, Inglourious Basterds isn’t out, but the trailer for it has me genuinely worried.)
And, oh, can I confess that I did really love Last Man Standing? Sure, I’m probably the only one in the world who saw it, and yes, it was a remake of a remake and the previous remakes were better, not to mention two of my favourite movies of all time (A Fistful of Dollars and Yojimbo respectively), but hey, they were truly certified all time classics and I thought Last Man Standing did a pretty good job. Seriously, all Bruce Willis bashing aside, I guess what I’m trying to say is that the man knows how to make a good action flick and he’s also appeared in film’s where he’s actually had to act on occasion and he’s generally been able to do that too. I’m usually entertained and sometimes even engaged with his movies. It’s a bit of a dark confession, but it’s true.
Anyway, I digress. Wandered off the garden path and stopped to stomp on the roses, so to speak.
The one thing which stuck with me most through the entire watching of DH4, the big thing which kept my brain active and thus stopped me from just enjoying the ride, was the thought that I’m watching a 90 minute version of the last thirty seconds of Escape from LA. Only sans Snake Plissken.
Seriously, when watching this flick I just could not get Snake out of my head, which was unfortunate for DH4, as it was never going to survive such a comparison. Okay, so I’m a tragic 80s movie geek and Snake just happens to be the sexiest of all movie characters ever and I’m talking even sexier than both Captain Jacks. (Sparrow and Harkness, which is a big statement to make for a girl who’s been lusting after Johnny Depp since he first appeared in the original Nightmare on Elm Street, and don’t even get me started on what I’d like to do to John Barrowman’s Capt’ Jack Harkness, especially if we could bring in one of his boyfriends or two, mmmm…)
Oh, sorry, distracted again. Um.
But we’re talking Snake Plissken. We’re talking black-eye-patch, boots, permanent three-day stubble and gravel voice mumbling “call me Snake”, with just the right emphasis on the ‘S’.
We’re talking the greatest anti-hero, who gives a fuck, the world doesn’t deserve saving and I don’t care to save it anymore, cynical loner bad-boy of all time.
You see, that was the difference between Die Hard 4 and Escape from NY/LA. That was why DH4 will only ever be a one-night-stand movie and not ever a certifiable classic, not even a classic bad movie. In DH4, lead character John McClain attempts to be a cynical, smart arse, who-gives-a-rats loner who spends 90 minutes trying to save the world.
In Escape from NY – and LA – Snake Plissken has been screwed over too many times to give a shit about saving the world, and only does so only because he’s forced into it to save his own life. But he does save it anyway, when no on else possibly could.
And then, having saved the world, he just turns it off anyway.
Still, Die Hard 4 did have an impact on my life. On my Visa card to be exact, because having watched it I immediately jumped online and purchased new copies of both Escape from NY and Escape from LA. And not even for Bruce Campbell’s cameo in the latter.
Now, Bruce “Groovy” Campbell, aaahhh… oh, okay, I’ll leave him for an entire other blog…