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Big badda boom.
At this point, the only way to approach the ongoing adventures of John McClane is with a wink, because the very notion of the first film has been undermined by the entirely understandable urge by the studio to turn the character into an ongoing franchise. What made the first "Die Hard" so great is the exact thing that makes the sequels less interesting. John McClane was just a normal cop. That was made very clear in the film, and that's why it was so great to watch this guy take down this elaborate heist. It was just a case of being in the wrong place at the right time, and he beat Hans Gruber and his merry band of thieves through sheer tenacity. McClane simply wasn't going to let them win, and as a result, he managed to not only stop the bad guys but he also won back his wife in the process. Great character arc, great premise, lean and mean and self-contained.
And while I can roll with the notion of "Die Hard With A Vengeance" because it's about an act of specifically-targeted revenge, a true sequel to the first film, I have more trouble getting my head around the coincidental nature of "Die Hard 2: Die Harder" and "Live Free Or Die Hard," where McClane goes from being a normal cop in extraordinary circumstances to being a lightning rod for elaborate bad guy plots.
It does give the series a nice sense of time passing that the kids we saw originally in the first film as little kids are now both old enough to have ass-kicking adventures with their dad. Mary Elizabeth Winstead played his daughter in the last film, and now in this movie, it's a father-son affair with Jai Courtney stepping in as McClane's son, and it looks like Chris Eccleston is going to crank up the smarm to play the bad guy.
Here's the first trailer for "A Good Day To Die Hard":
Best touch in the trailer? The use of "Ode To Joy," which was such a memorable part of the first film. While I may have trouble buying the idea that McClane keeps ending up in these situations, there is a wry attitude that this trailer sells that could make things fun anyway. When he refers to himself as New Jersey's 007, it's a good laugh, and I hope the movie turns out to be a nice goodbye to the character, one that acknowledges the absurdity of his franchise status while also delivering a genuinely thrilling ride. I'm not sold on John Moore as director, but that's one of those decisions that seemed to be fully expected in the age of Rothman, which has since ended, so maybe Moore's time as Fox's in-house action guy is finally coming to a close.
We'll see when "A Good Day To Die Hard" opens in theaters February 14, 2013.