“Die Hard 2”: That OTHER Technically Christmas Movie

John McClane, Bruce Willis, Die Hard 2

Bruce Willis. Guns. Fake snow. Yep, it was that time again.

It’s an old joke among internet guys that, when asked about the best Christmas movies ever, they’ll mention famous favorites with scenes set at Christmas, even if the entire movie isn’t actually about Christmas. Old reliables such as Lethal Weapon, Die Hard, and maybe Gremlins make strong showings on such lists, though Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a solid dark-horse candidate and I expect a few tongue-in-cheek votes in the future for Iron Man 3.

Sadly, I never see anyone show any Christmas love for Die Hard 2: Die Harder, which may be one of the two best films of director Renny Harlin’s career and is set entirely on Christmas Eve. Sure, its older brother hogs all the glory as the Greatest Action Film of All Time according to me and occasionally polls, but if you watch too closely and never mind the unfair comparisons to the One That Started It All, you’ll notice it has all the necessary elements of a basic Christmas movie, not to mention a few reminders of Christmas with your own family.

Where’s the Christmas in Die Hard 2? Count the ways:

* Snow! Die Hard had no snow. None. Not a flake. It was set in L.A., which has no snow because it hates Christmas. Die Hard 2 is set in Washington D.C., where snow is everywhere, even though most of it is fake movie snow that would make decent pillow stuffing. Even fake snow has more of a right to be in a Christmas movie than palm trees do.

John McClane’s Christmas list goes on…

Is There Ever a Good Day for “A Good Day to Die Hard”?

Bruce Willis, John McClane, A Good  Day to Die HardAs much as I contemplated bowing out in a previous entry, I just couldn’t quit John McClane. Besides, I had a relative desperate to get away from home for a while, which is one of the commonest rationalizations for doing something you know won’t end well.

Fortunately for impatient viewers, the “plot” portion of A Good Day to Die Hard occupies only the first ten minutes. Legendary neo-cowboy John McClane travels to Russia, where his son, a mere toddler without lines in the original Die Hard, stands trial for murder alongside another political prisoner named Komarov (Sebastian Koch, whom I last saw as the playwright under surveillance in the Oscar-winning The Lives of Others). Little does Dad know that Jack (Jai Courtney, suppressing his Australian accent just fine) is a CIA agent with a plan. Little does Jack know that he’s not the only one gunning for Komarov and the MacGuffin he holds. Little do Komarov’s pursuers know that he’s not as helpless as they think. And everyone but everyone knows sooner or later there’ll be explosions, bullets, and death-defying feats that would kill the average super-hero.

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How Hard Can it Be to Quit a Movie Series?

Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, A Good Day to Die HardTo Die Hard or not to Die Hard: that is the question now before me.

Anyone who knows me well is aware that — even at my advanced, increasingly prudish age — the original Die Hard remains my unqualified favorite movie of all time. None of them understand why because I’ve never outlined the many reasons. Suffice it to say it’s my incontrovertible opinion. I’ve seen all four movies even though they varied in worth. For the record, the correct ranking is 1, 2, 4, 3. I can understand arguments for and against Renny Harlin’s Die Harder, but I question the wisdom of anyone who ranks Die Hard with a Vengeance anywhere but dead last. For some reason I assumed that Len Wiseman’s ludicrous but giddy Live Free or Die Hard would be the series endcap, and John McClane could ride off into the sunset with Gary Cooper. When the fifth one was announced, I had no idea what to think.

As I’m contemplating the post-Oscar movie release schedule, A Good Day to Die Hard is the only non-Oscar film in theaters that’s not an automatic “no”. That doesn’t mean it’s an enthusiastic “yes”, though. As of this moment its Tomatometer rating rests at a paltry 13%. Its director’s oeuvre has never once tempted me into a theater. The main villain, which can make or break a Die Hard flick, is buried in the trailers as if the filmmakers are ashamed of him. Bruce Willis is now 57, younger than Schwarzenegger and Stallone but not exactly in his prime. I’m not optimistic, but I’m torn. Is now the right time to walk away from John McClane?

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