Die Hard

february 27, 2008

So, I was watching 20 years of Die Hard... Die Hard (1988)... Die Hard 2 (1990)... Die Hard With a Vengeance (1995)... Live Free or Die Hard (2007) over the last few days and I wanted to post something about the series.  With the rush of the initial viewing of Live Free or Die Hard gone, this is how I would rank the films:

  1. Die Hard:  Nothing beats the original.  This film sets the tone and wrote the template for a lot of today's action films.  This is a classic film in its own right.  And the McClane in this film is the one that all have grown to love.  The action in the film is well put together.  The characters are fantastic:  Han Gruber is the ultimate villian, the FBI Johnsons, Sgt. Al Powell, crappy reporter Richard Thornburg, and the memorable Deputy Police Chief Dwayne T. Robinson.
  2. Die Hard With a Vengeance:  This, I rank higher than Live Free or Die Hard by just a tiny bit.  There are two things that make this film better.  First, I love how this film stays completely rooted in reality -- no fake hover jets and questionable hacking in this film.  And second, Samuel L. Jackson makes any film better -- and Samuel L. Jackson is a lot better companion for John McClane than Justin Long's hacker.
  3. Live Free or Die Hard:  Fun film, but there is a sad loss of the McClane that we came to love from the original film.  The McClane in Live Free or Die Hard is a different character.  In the original, although McClane was a one man hero, he was still quite vulnerable.   In Live Free or Die Hard, McClane is raised to the level of an almost indestructible super hero -- this takes a bit away from the character and the tension of the film.  That said, this was still a fun film to watch with some very entertaining action sequences.
  4. Die Hard 2:  The Die Hard film that I wish did not exist.  This is by far the worst of the series -- and does not even come close to any of the other films.  Director Renny Harlin has some sadistic fetish and it really shows in this film -- and it is that fetish that ruins the film.  This film took a lot of fun in some very unnecessary gore and cruelty -- an onscreen throat-cutting, icicle in the eye, and other assorted stuff really messed up the film for me.
So, are you a fan of the Die Hard series?  How would you rank the four films?