R.I.P. Bruce Willis


With the decline of the Die Hard movie franchise, Bruce Willis can't seem to die hard enough. With the decline of the Die Hard movie franchise, Bruce Willis can’t seem to die hard enough.

Welcome to C-Listed, a new pop culture column from a person obsessed with that world. Every other Tuesday I’ll provide an over-analysis of subjects that don’t really matter, followed by a related list. Hopefully you’ll enjoy that I’ve thought too much about things like why Michael Jackson’s “Jam” is important to his discography regardless of the video, which unfortunately features Jackson teaching Michael Jordan how to dance and a Kriss Kross cameo.

Let’s begin with an end. The end of Bruce Willis, that is. I went to see A Good Day to Die Hard, the fifth Die Hard, last week at the Regal Stonefield 14 theater. (Side rant: The Stonefield theater is great; Stonefield’s layout isn’t. Driving around Stonefield is like slamming your fingers in a drawer. It’s hard to believe something so mundane can be so painful. The complex’s tagline should be “Stonefield: Welcome to Hell. But Hey, Trader Joe’s!”)

The movie was awful. The original Die Hard—a fantastic film—came out 25 years ago, and somewhere along the way Willis and others decided that each installment had to be more ridiculous than the last. Good Day fits that criteria. As my friend noted, a car chase scene—in which Willis drives on top of several cars and his vehicle emerges without a scratch—cost $11 million to film.

Absurdity instead of an intriguing (or even understandable) plot was Good Day’s downfall. And if this is how Willis treats John McClane, the role that made him a star, then what does that say of Willis? It was uncomfortable watching him run around like he’s still 32 when he looks every bit of 57. Also, part of Die Hard’s brilliance was that Willis nailed the “I’m just a good guy in a bad situation” role. His ease at creating McClane made audiences believe there was a little of the rough and tumble cop inside all of them. But Good Day’s Willis? Unrecognizable. Forced. It was like Willis was screaming that he was still worth watching, yet no words came out. But Good Day was such a mess that it might not have mattered anyway. I’m not alone in that thinking, as critics have blasted the film.

Despite my concern for Willis, Good Day is making money. It won its opening weekend and in its first five days raked in 37 million. So while critics are destroying Good Day and I’m calling for Willis’ funeral, most people feel that’s premature. It seems that even a terrible Willis dies hard.

Three Die Hard franchise facts:

Die Hard with a Vengeance was 1995’s highest grossing film.

Die Hard was based on the novel Nothing Lasts Forever, a sequel to the book The Detective. Frank Sinatra starred in the movie verision of The Detective but said no to doing the film adaptation of Nothing Lasts Forever, thus eventually opening the door for Willis.

For more Die Hard, there’s a comic book series created as a prequel to the original movie. But maybe just consider letting five movies be enough.