Posts Tagged ‘die hard’

A New York cop John Mclane and his son Jack finds themselves caught in a dangerous Russian conspiracy.

Thankfully director John Moore delivers an exceptionally fun ride, which goes from one breathtaking action set up to the next.

Although in wrong the place, at the wrong time element has been imitated countless times as one of the henchmen say, “It’s not 1986 anymore” and the franchise has had to move with the times. As a result the subtleties and focus on John’s character as in the first two Die Hards has been lost with Willis having a hand full of lines and comedy quips albeit why we fell in love with him and what brought Roderick Thorp character Joe Leland (renamed and reworked John Mclane) from novel “Nothing Lasts Forever” to life. The action packed sequels drifted away from Maclane with him prominently having Samuel Jackson and a hacker sidekick respectively arguably diluting the Die Hard ‘feel’.

 A Good Day to Die Hard writer Skip Woods doesn’t give Willis enough meaty dialogue, but its not just a case of the Hollywood star picking up his pay cheque, to Willis’ credit he gets plenty to do as he chews on a few great one liners with one or two genuine laugh out moments. Of course Woods gives the obligatory Die Hard twist but at least some effort had gone into adding another surprise.

 
Jack Reacher’s bad guy Jai Courtney is a good addition as Jack McClane and Mary Elizabeth Winstead returns in cameo as daughter Lucy. Only Holly is missing but this is about an absent father, which is only touched on but do you expect depth from a sequel to a surprise 80s action hit? Cole Hauser has a bit part and Sebastian Koch is exceptional with Yuliya Snigir making an acceptable focal character. Notable is Radivoje Bukvic as Alik who is as memorable as Alexander Godunov’s Karl in the original.

 

Marco Beltrami is on form, with a few familiar music cues and A Good Day’ has plenty of atmosphere thanks to Jonathan Sela’s cinematography of Moscow, this coupled with fantastic stunts and Moore’s slick fast paced direction it ensures a solid visual package. Notably there is an outstanding chase sequence which any action director would find hard to surpass.
 

It may not have the charm of the MTV generation original and clearly panders to high-octane, energy drink, disposable film goer – But that’s the beauty of this instalment and what the critics are overlooking A Good Day to Die hard infiltrates and becomes current, it’s probably no coincidence that old rockers Rolling Stones most recent track ‘Doom and Gloom’ closes the film showing Mclane maybe over the hill but he is just a relevant as ever. 

 
The Die Hard franchise, five action films that began with Die Hard way back in 1988. They are centered around the character of John McClane. The films have been imitated the world over, there’s also been several video games based on them as well as a comic book series.
 
Die Hard (1988)
 
Director John McTiernan’s Die hard is the archetype hostage action flick, often imitated rarely surpassed. It’s the sleeper hit that made Bruce Willis a star and remains sinisterly great fun to this day.
 
 
It captures that Christmas feeling perfectly with a distinguished score from the late Michael Kamen and some fine cinematography by the then unknown Jan de Bont (Speed Director).
 
 
The supporting cast are all first rate and include William Atherton, the late Paul Gleason, Bonnie Bedelia and the excellent Reginald VelJohnson as the typical cop Sgt. Al Powell. Alan Rickman, probably in his finest performance, is the heist leader Hans Gruber. His un-stereotype bad guy has oddly become a stereotype after being copied in countless action films.
 
 
Packed with compulsory 80’s one liners, over the top action and a well written script, Die Hard remains a great piece of entertainment.
 
 
 
 
Die Hard 2 (1990)
 
 
Bruce Willis is back as everyday man and cop John McClane in Die hard 2, Yipee-ki-yay! Renny Harlin follows John McTiernan’s original with the same action packed spirit.
 
 
Willis is again on witty top form and the story quite meaty for an action, wisely based on Walter Wager’s novel “58 Minutes” giving it a back bone. A team of terrorists is holding the entire airport hostage, as they plan to liberate a drug lord. Its an adventure with a a nice little twist. And it’s good fun watching McClane tries to outwit the terrorists.
 
 
There are some great action scenes and admittedly it has some comedy, but what makes Die hard 2 interesting is the snowy night setting, Wilis’ desperation, it’s dark, it’s edgy, there’s a lot of atmosphere, more characters and its not a rehash heist film of the first. In addition, there are some parts where the lead fails, making it a less predictable ride.
 
 
Willis is again on top form as the character that made him a film star. Both William Atherton, sleazy paparazzi and Bonnie Bedelia, as McClane’s wife return for a second stint. William Sadler who is in profound physical shape is the prefect bad guy. He really brings weight to the role. John Amos deserves a mention and the rest of the supporting cast are clearly dedicated, the acting is of a high standard. There’s also cameo from Twinkie eating Reginald VelJohnson (it’s a shame they couldn’t have fit him in the other sequels). Robert Patrick shows up very briefly prior to ‘T2’ fame.
 
 
Once again Michael Kamen provides an excellent and fitting score, Director Harlin delivers as solid well constructed squeal regardless of some dated effects and far-fetched moments.
 
 
All in all it’s a strong follow-up and has been often imitated like it’s predecessor.
 
Die Hard: With a Vengeance (1995)
 
 
I missed the Christmas feeling of the first two instalments in this summer set blockbuster and some of the characters of the first two films.However, on reviewing the first thing that hit me was the sad echoes of real life 9/11 and one wonders if the film would ever have been given the green light now.
 
That aside the film is very enjoyable as hungover John McClane and Samuel L. Jackson as Zeus, play witty duo, as they run around New York undertaking tasks set out by Simon played by heister Jeremy Irons.
 
Die hard fans will find the icing on the cake is the direct link to the first film and for everyone else there’s the banter between the leads and action scenes. The story is more complex than most action films and Irons bad guy has a little more depth than the usual villain.
 
John McTiernan proves once again he knows how to direct and pace a film while Bruce does McClane blindfolded.
 
 
Live Free or Die Hard (2007)
 
 
Underworld director Len Wiseman directs the fourth instalment of the Die Hard film series. With a story line that over focuses on today’s technology reliant world we live in, 4 is still an entertaining ride.
 
 
Almost everything is there, witty one-liners, great action scenes, however, like the third it lacks the ‘connection’ to the first two films, even though it includes a picture of Holly Gennaro.
 
 
Marco Beltrami score is fine and despite Willis getting on in years he puts plenty of life into John McClane. Cliff Curtis is excellent as FBI Deputy Director, action starlet Maggie Q is magnificent and the supporting cast include Kevin Smith and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Justin Long however, appears out of place and possibly miscast.
 
 
Redeemably Timothy Olyphant’s bad guy Thomas Gabriel is perfect. He’s calm and less animated than some stereotypes. I feel that without Olyphant’s performance and Willis efforts the film would have been less fun. There’s some ‘free running’ action and the effects are great, but the jet scene was an unnecessary piece of superciliousness. In addition, it feels preachy, McClane’s son is nowhere to be seen and the end feels very rushed.
 
 
Yeap, it’s a mixed review, certainly watch for Olyphant’s performance, Wiseman’s slick direction and Wilis in his best role. Don’t expect too much and no doubt you’ll enjoy.
 
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P2 (2007)
An office worker called Angela (Rachel Nichols) is pursued by a voyeur psychopath after being locked in a parking garage on Christmas Eve.
I’m a sucker for films where main character just can’t get to their intended destination, The Hitcher, After hours, Judgement Night, Brake down and Hostel to name but a few spring to mind – Films with a minimal cast and a difficult situation to get out of. P2 ticks both boxes here.
First time director Franck Khalfoun builds up the tension here and makes the most out of his two leads Wes Bentley and Rachel Nichols. The score and cinematography is of a high standard and the acting is first rate for this type of thriller but it is let down by its lack of character development by the script.
Angela seems such an unlikable character that you’d like her to get killed off in the first five minutes. That said, who needs characters built? As the film unfolds, after all manner of psychological and physical hoops Angela goes through, you find your rooting for her after all. The effects are realistic and the blood mostly comes from Angela work mate. There’s a nasty scene involving a vicious dog which is not for animal lovers, so beware.
The end is satisfying as to is the film as a whole; all in all it’s a solid little thriller which includes an Elvis Christmas song. You can’t go wrong.

Screamers (1995)
A war ridden apocalyptic mining planet, a small defence robotic weapon known as Screamers have continued to evolve into something more deadly which puts both sides of the conflict survivors at risk.
Alien (1979) scribe Dan O’Bannon delivers an interesting take on the infamous writer Philip K. Dick’s short story, Second Variety.
Both Jennifer Rubin and Peter Weller are very effective as the leads in what could have be just another B-science fiction and the rest of the small cast are adequate enough. Christian Duguay direction is competent and he builds up some genuine tension when the Screamers burrow through the ground, wielding blades and attack their prey, the human war survivors.
Although the special effects are below par and are now dated, the practical effects, chopped limbs, explosions are decent and there are some great matte paintings and the costumes look excellent.
As Joe Hendricksson (Weller) journeys across wastelands to negotiate peace the film becomes more visually interesting and atmospheric with its desolate cold surroundings, sweeping snow covered landscapes and fort complex. An ominous atmosphere is created especially in the darker scenes, which have some nice surprise moments and creepy children.
Screamers is a slow satisfying paranoia sci-fi with guns and robots on a small budget. Overall, it’s certainly worth the watch if you’re a fan of the genre.

The Shining (1980)

A caretaker is isolated with his family in a hotel for the winter season, however they are not alone and the past guests and staff spirits still live on putting the caretaker, his wife and son in grave danger.
The uncut 146 minute version which only reinforced the fact that it is one of the best, if not the greatest tension driven, psychological horror films that has been made.
Thankfully Kubrick doesn’t follow Kings ‘The Shining’ novel to the letter, or we have the hedged animals coming to life and an explosive ending, while grand it would have lost the reality and realism that Kubrick creates.
Jack Nicholson’s antics, Shelley Duvall’s fear, Danny Lloyd’s performance (one of the few child leads that isn’t annoying) is first-rate as Danny. Veteran and voice of Hong Kong Phooey, Scatman Crothers is superb and the array of actors small but memorable parts including, Bladerunners Joe Turkel as Lloyd the Bartender and Barry Nelson as Manger, Stuart Ullman.
It’s not the novel, Kubrick’s the Shining one of the most impressive horror films ever made and on so many levels.

The Thing (2011) 


It is 1982, after a signal is investigated in Antartica a team accidentally find a body and ship. A team of researchers are dispatched to assist and they soon find they’ve discovered something alien and deadly.
From the opening cinematographer Michel Abramowicz frames a shot of a sweeping snow-landscape as a yellow tractor ploughs across the ice and snow with the familiar beats of the originals score. Bearded Norwegian talk in their native dialogue and you feel you’re in good hands from the outset.
Although there are two females roles Mary Elizebeth Winstead as Kate gives it that Alien- esque dynamic with a prominent male cast but over all the look and feel is that of The Thing and it feels like a true prequel.
The recreation of the sets and the 80’s music add to the fan-boy fun and Marco Beltrami score excellently reworks Ennio Morricone original track which packs it’s own punches and chills.
It’s a dark film with lots of shadows possibly more so that it’s predecessor what adds to the claustrophobic atmosphere. It’s also bloodier, and gorier with an equally fantastic autopsy scene.
There’s no getting away from comparing directors Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.’s Thing to the original classic. That said, for new comers watching it cold it works as a stand alone film – as a prequel to the masses its a joy.
The team are equipped bio researchers which adds extra dynamic and pace to the story, like the viewer some of the characters have equal knowledge of what The Thing creature is doing early on like its audience who have already seen Carpenters classic. However, that fact the characters are up to speed on alien creatures purpose it takes some of the everyday down to earth person handling a situation, learning more as they go along away.
There’s some effective tension and there’s a great set piece on a helicopter. Due credit to writer Eric Heisserer and Ronald D. Moore, the Norwegian dialogue adds to the realism and attention to detail. As distrust builds the story becomes even more engrossing. There’s too much CGI nevertheless there’s some nice touches involving arm braces and tooth fillings thrown into the mix and Heijningen Jr. Handles the mix of splitting heads contorted bodies and faces perfectly while creating a great sci-fi horror ride.
The sound is wonderful with familiar moaning, the tentacles flaying noise and eerie screams galore. These complement the practical and computer effects. There are some discrepancies but none that detract or couldn’t be arguably accounted for.
The acting is more than adequate aided by a solid script. There are some notable performances including Ulrich Thomse’s Doctor Sander and Jonathan Walker as Colin. Winstead really carries the film and does it surprisingly well -as a side note she’s as moody and likable as Kurt’s MacReady.
There’s not a joke in sight, it’s serious. It’s a very fast paced film with enough surprises to keep it fresh while paying homage at the same time. The closing act is bloated but arguably so was The Thing’s 1982. But like its classic counterpart all is forgiven with its great epilogue.
Overall, semi-perfect replication -like The Thing organism itself.

The Thing (1982)

After being freed from its ancient crash site an extraterrestrial life form infiltrates an Antarctic research station, imitating taking the appearance of the researchers that it kills.
An atmospheric understated sci-fi at it best. I’ll never understand how Carpenter lost the lustre in some of the other film he made, nevertheless, his Thing is one of his best movies and also once of the best sci-fi movies ever. Despite being based on the same source material (before remakes were popular) the thing has a look and feel of it’s own and is very different from its 50’s counterpart.
The isolated setting, the astounding cinematography and scenery creates intrigue; drawing you in from the very beginning. It’s a perfect horror/sci-fi cocktail of Ennio Morricone’s haunting foreboding score, Rob Bottin and Stan Winston’s benchmark practical effects (which are to-date arguably unsurpassed) Carpenters claustrophobic set ups and Bill Lancaster screenplay.
It’s rare that every single actor is exceptional and supplied with effective dialogue. All the cast from Kurt Russell to Wilford Brimley as Blair are all captivating, great casting by Anita Dann. The characters have their own issues and as the paranoia sets in relationships are forged and other broken, building to a bold and satisfying conclusion.
This is more than just a cult film with a ‘monster’ hiding in warm places surrounded by snow, it’s a finely tuned science fiction horror masterpiece.

Die Hard (1988)

A New York cop’s holiday is cut short when a group of terrorists gate crash his wife’s office Christmas party and hold the workers for ransom.
Director John McTiernan’s Die hard is the archetype hostage action flick, often imitated rarely surpassed. It’s the sleeper hit that made Bruce Willis a star and remains sinisterly great fun to this day.
It captures that Christmas feeling perfectly with a distinguished score from the late Michael Kamen and some fine cinematography by the then unknown Jan de Bont (Speed Director).
The supporting cast are all first rate and include William Atherton, the late Paul Gleason, Bonnie Bedelia and the excellent Reginald VelJohnson as the typical cop Sgt. Al Powell. Alan Rickman, probably in his finest performance, is the heist leader Hans Gruber. His un-stereotype bad guy has oddly become a stereotype after being copied in countless action films.
Packed with compulsory 80’s one liners, over the top action and a well written script, Die Hard remains a great piece of entertainment.
Let I be said that after horror and films I love Christmas and the holiday season, if it’s done right you too can feel like Cliff Richard, Shakin Stevens, Slade and Wizard in one giant snowball eggnog. Ah – it’s like a Fairy Tale in New York.

‘Tis the season to be jolly – when fathers get killed in chimneys dressed as Santa, terrorist take over tower blocks and children get left Home Alone to fend off burglars!

If you take it too seriously it will consume you. Don’t become a hater and try to dissect it. Just think log fires and ‘Last Christmas’ Wham jumpers and it will all go away. Also remember some of the best stories and plays (excluding the most famous one) are set in the winter. You may want to skip a Winters Tale though.

I’d like to take this blog opportunity to thank all my readers, fans and supporters for reading my books, watching my films and spreading the word. So while the weather outside gets frightful, curl up watch the perfect Christmas film like Gremlins, Muppets Christmas Carol, Die Hard, The Thing, P2 or Misery and have yourself a merry little Christmas time.

(Okay so they’re not all technically Christmas films but you get the snow drift.)

My zombie and vampire book continue to be successful (I’m not just making the connection it because they feature snow in a few chapters). Thanks all, I really mean it and to quote some lines from two of my favourite holiday films, “Now I have a machine gun – Ho, Ho, Ho .” “You’ll be sorry you’ll all be very, very sorry. ” and not forgetting, 
“I can see! I have…I have legs. I have… Oh shit, look at this. Legs! I can walk. …”,
“It’s Christmas, Theo. It’s the time of miracles, so be of good cheer…”
Happy holiday and have a fantastic New year!
My best A


The Die Hard franchise, four action films that began with Die Hard way back in 1988. They are centered around the character of John McClane. The films have been imitated the world over, there’s also been several video games based on them as well as a comic book series.

In between producing and writing, I’ve put together my thoughts and comments on the Die Hard film series…

Die Hard (1988)

Director John McTiernan’s Die hard is the archetype hostage action flick, often imitated rarely surpassed. It’s the sleeper hit that made Bruce Willis a star and remains sinisterly great fun to this day.

It captures that Christmas feeling perfectly with a distinguished score from the late Michael Kamen and some fine cinematography by the then unknown Jan de Bont (Speed Director).

The supporting cast are all first rate and include William Atherton, the late Paul Gleason, Bonnie Bedelia and the excellent Reginald VelJohnson as the typical cop Sgt. Al Powell. Alan Rickman, probably in his finest performance, is the heist leader Hans Gruber. His un-stereotype bad guy has oddly become a stereotype after being copied in countless action films.

Packed with compulsory 80’s one liners, over the top action and a well written script, Die Hard remains a great piece of entertainment.

Die Hard 2 (1990)

Bruce Willis is back as everyday man and cop John McClane in Die hard 2, Yipee-ki-yay! Renny Harlin follows John McTiernan’s original with the same action packed spirit.

Willis is again on witty top form and the story quite meaty for an action, wisely based on Walter Wager’s novel “58 Minutes” giving it a back bone. A team of terrorists is holding the entire airport hostage, as they plan to liberate a drug lord. Its an adventure with a a nice little twist. And it good fun watching McClane tries to outwit the terrorists.

There are some great action scenes and admittedly it has some comedy, but what makes Die hard 2 interesting is the snowy night setting, Wilis’ desperation, it’s dark, it’s edgy, there’s a lot of atmosphere, more characters and its not a rehash heist film of the first. In addition, there are some parts where the lead fails, making it a less predictable ride.

Willis is again on top form as the character that made him a film star. Both William Atherton, sleazy paparazzi and Bonnie Bedelia, as McClane’s wife return for a second stint. William Sadler who is in profound physical shape is the prefect bad guy. He really brings weight to the role. John Amos deserves a mention and the rest of the supporting cast are clearly dedicated, the acting is of a high standard. There’s also cameo from Twinkie eater Reginald VelJohnson (it a shame they couldn’t have fit him in the other sequels). Robert Patrick shows up very briefly prior to ‘T2’ fame.

Once again Michael Kamen provides an excellent and fitting score, Director Harlin delivers as solid well constructed squeal regardless of some dated effects and far-fetched moments.

All in all it’s a strong follow-up and has been often imitated like it’s predecessor.

Die Hard: With a Vengeance (1995)

I missed the Christmas feeling of the first two instalments in this summer set blockbuster and some of the characters of the first two films.However, on reviewing the first thing that hit me was the sad echoes of real life 9/11 and one wonders if the film would ever have been given the green light now.

That aside the film is very enjoyable as hungover John McClane and Samuel L. Jackson as Zeus, play witty duo, as they run around New York undertaking tasks set out by Simon played by heister Jeremy Irons.

Die hard fans will find the icing on the cake is the direct link to the first film and for everyone else there’s the banter between the leads and action scenes. The story is more complex than most action films and Irons bad guy has a little more depth than the usual villain.

John McTiernan proves once again he knows how to direct and pace a film while Bruce does McClane blindfolded.

Live Free or Die Hard (2007)

Underworld director Len Wiseman directs the fourth instalment of the Die Hard film series. With a story line that over focuses on today’s technology reliant world we live in, 4 is still an entertaining ride.

Almost everything is there, witty one-liners, great action scenes, however, like the third it lacks the connection to the first two films, even though it includes a picture of Holly Gennaro.

Marco Beltrami score is fine and despite Willis getting on in years he puts plenty of life into John McClane. Cliff Curtis is excellent as FBI Deputy Director, action starlet Maggie Q is magnificent and the supporting cast include Kevin Smith and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Justin Long however, appears out of place and possibly miscast.

Redeemably Timothy Olyphant’s bad guy Thomas Gabriel is perfect. He’s calm and less animated than some stereotypes. I feel that without Olyphant’s performance and Willis efforts the film would have been less fun. There’s some ‘free running’ action and the effects are great, but the jet scene was an unnecessary piece of superciliousness. In addition, it feels preachy, McClane’s son is nowhere to be seen and the end feels very rushed.

Yeap, it’s a mixed review, certainly watch for Olyphant’s performance, Wiseman’s slick direction and Wilis in his best role. Don’t expect too much and no doubt you’ll enjoy.

A New York cop John Mclane and his son Jack finds themselves caught in a dangerous Russian conspiracy.
 
Thankfully director John Moore delivers A Good Day to Die hard as an exceptionally fun ride, which goes from one breathtaking action set up to the next.
 
Although in wrong the place, at the wrong time element has been imitated countless times as one of the henchmen say, “It’s not 1986 anymore” and the franchise has had to move with the times. As a result the subtleties and focus on John’s character as in the first two Die Hards has been lost with Willis having a hand full of lines and comedy quips albeit why we fell in love with him and what brought Roderick Thorp character Joe Leland (renamed and reworked John Mclane) from novel “Nothing Lasts Forever” to life. The action packed sequels drifted away from Maclane with him prominently having Samuel Jackson and a hacker sidekick respectively arguably diluting the Die Hard ‘feel’.
 
Here writer Skip Woods doesn’t give Willis enough meaty dialogue, but its not just a case of the Hollywood star picking up his pay cheque, to Willis’ credit he gets plenty to do as he chews on a few great one liners with one or two genuine laugh out moments. Of course Woods gives the obligatory Die Hard twist but at least some effort had gone into adding another surprise.
 
Jack Reacher’s bad guy Jai Courtney is a good addition as Jack McClane and Mary Elizabeth Winstead returns in cameo as daughter Lucy. Only Holly is missing but this is about an absent father, which is only touched on but do you expect depth from a sequel to a surprise 80s action hit? Cole Hauser has a bit part and Sebastian Koch is exceptional with Yuliya Snigir making acceptable focal character. Notable is Radivoje Bukvic as Alik who is as memorable as Alexander Godunov’s Karl in the original.
 
Marco Beltrami is on form, with a few familiar music cues and A Good Day’ has plenty of atmosphere thanks to Jonathan Sela’s cinematography of Moscow, this coupled with fantastic stunts and Moore’s slick fast paced direction ensures a solid visual package.
 
It may not have the charm of the MTV generation original and clearly panders to high-octane, energy drink, disposable film goer – But that’s the beauty of this instalment and what the critics are overlooking A Good Day to Die hard infiltrates and becomes current, it’s probably no coincidence that old rockers Rolling Stones most recent track ‘Doom and Gloom’ closes the film showing Mclane maybe over the hill but he is just a relevant as ever.