"Die Hard" is a franchise that has certainly seen better days. The most recent installment, "A Good Day to Die Hard," did a great job of crushing whatever viability the series had in staying relevant. Of course, that never stops studios for thinking of ways to inject a known entity some extra juice, and it was only a matter of time before "Die Hard" fell victim to prequel or reboot-itis.
Luckily for us, the man in charge of this "reboot" of sorts isn't the man responsible for "A Good Day to Die Hard," but rather, Len Wiseman, the man who gave us what I thought was a pretty solid action picture, "Live Free or Die Hard." Sure, by that point in the franchise, Bruce Willis' character was less the "Why me?" character we've learned to love, and more of an unstoppable force that the villain ran from like a scared dog... but the movie was fun all the same.
It's with that in mind that I'll move forward with cautious optimism. But if this film is set to be a prequel of sorts, then what would that entail, and what would Bruce Willis' role be, if any?
In a recent interview with Collider, Wiseman went into the origins of the project, and what it may mean for this upcoming film.
“After doing the fourth one ("Live Free or Die Hard"), there were so many conversations that Bruce [Willis] and I were having about what he put into the character for "Die Hard 1." That character comes in with so much baggage, emotionally, and experience. He’s already divorced, he’s bitter, his Captain hates him, and doesn’t want him back. So, what created that guy?"
“We’ve never seen the actual love story. We know its demise, but we’ve never seen what it was like when he met Holly, or when he was a beat cop in ‘78 in New York when there was no chance of him making detective. It’s always been something I’ve been thinking about, and now we’re doing it. And it ties in.”
It's very interesting that Wiseman wants to go back to the very beginning. Upon first hearing news of this prequel, a lot of fans were frustrated by the idea of going back to before "Die Hard," as many felt that that film was all the prequel we needed to buy John McClane as John McClane. Thinking back, it isn't unreasonable to assume that McClane had some badass adventures before the incident with Hand Gruber. After all, he was a New York cop, and he did manage to take down and entire group of terrorists, so that had to come from somewhere, right?
So where does that leave Bruce Willis? After all, he is the through-line of the franchise, and perhaps the biggest selling point apart from the branding of the name. They wouldn't dare just throw the man to the wayside, would they? Wiseman goes on to describe this new "Die Hard" flick as not just a prequel, but also a sequel.
“The reason I say prequel/sequel is because I wasn’t going to do it without Bruce. I’m also not going to do it with Bruce being a cameo bookend gimmick. It’s really working into the plot, with the ‘70s having ramifications on present-day Bruce. It inter-cuts in a very fun, imaginative way with present-day John McClane.”
One could do worse than a frame narrative for a film like this. But what about the actual plot?
“The film itself will take place on New Years’ Eve 1979, so trying to gear things towards that would be fun, if we could come out around the same time, but these movies take their own paths.”
Seems straightforward enough, but I'm still stuck on the whole "we're still using Bruce Willis" aspect to the film. The real downside to this from a studio perspective, is that it leaves less room for a sequel. Sure, there is still ten years between the prequel and the first "Die Hard"--plenty of room for a sequel, in theory, but you'd end up cutting out Willis altogether, which is something Wiseman seems to be avoiding doing at the moment. It's not like you could do the frame narrative thing for two films in a row, right? Will they have the confidence to go forward without Willis in the future? I'd find that hard to believe, though it could depend greatly on how good this young John McClane is -- no easy task!
“It has to be somebody that has the swagger and the confidence, but also the charm, the wit, the charisma and the toughness. It’s asking a lot, especially in somebody that’s younger. It has to feel like the guy owns it, rather than is trying to put it on.”
So what do you think of Wiseman's comments? Who would you cast as young John McClane? Let us know your thoughts down below!