The only interesting aspect about the latest Die Hard sequel being foisted on an unsuspecting audience is that fact that it is a Die Hard film.
This may seem counter-intuitive but let me explain. The original Die Hard (AKA the best Christmas movie ever) was based on a novel called Nothing Lasts Forever. Die Hard 2 was also based on a book, 58 Minutes by Walter Wager while the third film began life as a Lethal Weapon sequel before the studio replaced Riggs and Murtagh with John McClane and Mace Windu.
Die Hard 4.0 was inspired by an article from Wired Magazine called A Farewell to Arms. I’ve been a journalist for nearly 10 years and none of my stories have ever been optioned by Hollywood, not even my harrowing first-person account of the 2005 Boyup Brook Country Music Festival.
So the fifth installment, where John McClane and his son fight the forces of evil and male pattern baldness, is unique in that it is based on nothing but the screenwriter’s imagination and the mandated number of car chases Hollywood insists feature in any film set after 1945.
The reason the first three Die Hard sequels began life as unrelated scripts before being McClanified shows how little faith studios had in the scripts to begin with.
They knew the chance of the great unwashed would be wary of a film based on a book (a book is like a Kindle, but on paper).
But if this mediocre product was packaged as the further adventures of the Yippee Ki Ay guy, then people could be persuaded to watch.
The fact this simple strategy has earned Fox Studios more than half a billion dollars proves H.L. Mencken’s aphorism “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public”, though since half of that amount was earned outside the US and Canada, we can’t let Americans take all the blame.
Of course, the military-entertainment complex knows it will take more than regular helpings of Die Hard to lure people in to the cinema.
That is why they have created a sub-genre of the action film that I call Steam Punk Action.
Instead of present day American goodies fighting foreign baddies, you can make the good guys non-specifically European (but still played by Americans, obviously) and set it in Ye Olden Dayes (anytime before Kennedy was shot). This allows you to mix both swords and guns as well as allowing the villains to have foreign accents without creating any racial issues.
The final ingredient for a perfect steam punk action film is to decide which classic novel or fairy tale you are going to graft on to this standard plot.
That is how you end with tales as diverse as The Three Musketeers, Hansel and Gretel and Sherlock Holmes all looking like Matrix remakes, complete with slow motion bullets and people leaping off walls with guns akimbo.
This knowledge makes upcoming new releases easy to predict. Next year we can expect Vin Diesel to kick some windmill ass in Don Quixote. in 2015 it will be Die Hard 6 Feet Under before the we reach the logical endpoint of Bruce Willis playing a wisecracking, gun-toting Ebenezer Scrooge. Bah Humbug, Motherf****ers.