By Dr. Craig D. Reid
Old Bruce Willis enters the Little Big Man (1970) as with his latest outrageous, bodacious and audacious action thriller, he would undoubtedly paraphrase Old Lodge Skins and blurt, “It is a good day to die….hard.”
Good Day to Die Hard is as farfetched as any other Die Hard film can get. For a man in his 50s, John McClane (Willis) is as Scot’s as any Braveheart, caber-tossing, highlander, sporron wearing lad who can defeat the English at the Battle of Sterling Ridge, without breaking a bone, a beat or a sweat. In this case, McClane and his estranged son John Jr. (Australian actor Jai Courtney) take on Russian ne’er-do-wells with anti-sassanack furor.
With an MIF/007 (Mission Impossible/Bond for those not into tweet literary content) opening, rife with Lalo Schifrin euphonic euphoria, is Spirit Music to the ear as this audio/video barrage goes beyond the envelope of startlement. The film leaves the audience cheering for glee as we realize, for better or for worse…guns, explosions and car chasing fury are inherent in our modern cinematic pop culture as they are in real life.
And with that, this film garners, perhaps unintended, a very important message why gun-totters end up doing the sick and unthinkable things they do at movie theaters, schools and universities.
For those that came in late (BTW thank you to Lee Falk and “The Phantom” for this awesome segway), take-no-prisoner LAPD ruffian-cowboy John McClane finds himself on foreign soil after traveling to Moscow to help his wayward son Jack. However, big Jack is unaware that baby Jack is really a highly-trained CIA operative down to his final pitch to strikeout the nuclear weapons heist giants. (So did you catch the Jack the Giant Killer plug?) With the Russian underworld in pursuit, and battling a countdown to an improbable nuclear war, the ballistic ballet of McClane and McClane, keeps on truckin’ and shoots whirlygig wonderment in an effort to secretly save the face and butts of the U.S. and Russian governments. Sound’s rather yin-yang-ish doesn’t it?
The purpose of this movie is not to line the filmmakers’ pockets with Oscar gold or even to placate film critics with a heart-tugging, warm and fuzzy story about how a father and son somehow save family face, honor and grace. No. It’s merely a mindless action film, that requires little guess work, minimal but easy to follow plot, a few well hidden twists and some creative rock-em sock-em set pieces, where we can just simply sit back and enjoy something so ludicrously explosive that it makes us shake our heads and laugh.
Yet a point that seems to be escaping the heads, minds and emotional connectivity (or basically lack thereof) of most critics is why John Jr., joined the CIA in the first place and became the ruthless man that one needs to be in order to shoot the hell out of “enemies” domestic and foreign.
Due to the lack of parental love and caring, and the mixed messages a child gets when a parent like John McClane is never home and thus Junior lacking a proper male role model…the child becomes disconnected with their emotions and never learns how to process and release these negative emotions (anger, fear, frustration, resentment, etc) that good parents are supposed to teach their kids how to recognize and express them. Constantly repressing these emotions over time creates deep physical pain and psychological issues that re-surface later in life with often times violent consequences.
So John Jr., turns to a life of violence, joining the CIA, believing the wild and wooly lifestyle can help him deal with the “loss” of his father’s love or even as a means to win his father’s approval. In real life, this kind of scenario lays the groundwork for what we see with the crazy gun violence, where it’s the people and their lack of emotional balance is the real danger.
Good Day to Die Hard subliminally shows this beautifully and honestly, without trying to hide behind pretension and conceit.