I went to see A Good Day to Die Hard the other day. Oh dear, what a sorry mess. For a start, it should be called Die Hard & Son. The second thing they should change is, well, everything.
Seeing one of my favourite action franchises descend into such a bland mess got me thinking about what I liked about the Die Hard movies in the first place and what I would do if I made one. So, here are my five tips for saving the Die Hard franchise.
1. Make me care
In the original Die Hard, John McClane makes such an effort because he is trying to save his estranged wife from the dastardly terrorists. There is a great scene in the first 20 minutes of the film establishing that his relationship with his wife is troubled, he is trying to make it work and cares for her despite their difficulties. We also see that his wife has reverted to her maiden name.
So, with the emotional landscape outlined, we can enjoy things blowing up good and cool action scenes.
Any new Die Hard should put John's family at stake. More specifically, I think we should check back in on estranged wife Holly Gennero - who hasn't appeared on screen since Die Hard 2: Die Harder. A family event, like the wedding of his daughter Lucy, should bring them together, but be disrupted by terrorist shenanigans.
2. Proper baddy.
This isn't just a rule for Die Hard, but for movies in general. The more dastardly and vivid your villian, the more daring and awesome your hero has to become.
In Die Hard 5 and I am still not sure exactly who was supposed to be the baddie.
One of the things that made the original Die Hard so amazing is Alan Rickman's insane performance as Hans Gruber. He is an icy, suave and fascinating villain who is the perfect foil for John McClane's down-to-earth New York cop.
Someone who knows how to do this is James Cameron. There is a moment in Avatar when the heroes steal the helicopter thing. Col Quaritch sees this happening and dashes outside emptying his pistol at the helicopter then throwing that away and emptying his other weapon at it. Then his assistant runs up to him with an oxygen mask and you realise he has done all that while holding his breath. Now that is a badass baddie.
3. Confined spaces are cool.
The bit in Die Hard that always stands out for me is the ventilation shafts. I think returning to a confined space for the first time since the original movie could be really fun.
You could make a Die Hard movie that respects its heritage, but feels modern and exciting. A bit like what Sam Mendes did with James Bond in Skyfall.
4. The breakdown.
This is actually something all the Die Hard films have done quite well. There is something brilliant about the way McClane always starts the movie looking quite smart, but by the conclusion he looks as though he has been dragged through the Nakatomi Plaza backwards.
5. More smoking.
Do you remember how Lloyd Bridges in Airplane! (or Flying High) chose the wrong day to give up his various vices?
I think McClane should have such a terrible day that he takes up smoking again. I love the smoking in Die Hard. I'm not a smoker, nor a fan of smoking, but Bruce Willis having a durry in the original Die Hard is super-cool. I want to see more smoking in the Die Hard franchise.
Oh, and one last thing. Set it at Christmas.
So, there you go, that is my five-step plan for saving Die Hard.Also, just out of interest, here is my ranking of the Die Hard movies in order of awesome. 1, 3, 2, 4, 5. (Discuss.)
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