Bruce Willis

Die Hard with a Vengeance

It’s kind of strange that everyone stopped buying Die Hard as a franchise the moment John McClane threw a car at a helicopter. It would have been a crowning achievement in any other action flick, but for glass-footed everyman McClane, it proved to be the ultimate betrayal of the character (and/or the final step in his evolution from hardened cop to absurd superhero). Whether or not that superhero mentality will continue into Die Hardest is the main question facing fans who still maintain a sense of optimism, but now screenwriter Ben Trebilcook has revealed a few plot details and at least one familiar face that he wants back in the mix.

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Scenes We Love: The Fifth Element

It sometimes seems like Luc Besson‘s name is attached to everything these days. Hardly a week goes by without seeing some new action flick- a Taken here, a Columbiana there- with Besson attached as a producer or writer, but as a director he’s far less prolific. He’s directed a slew of Arthur movies, based off a series of children’s books he also wrote himself, but besides that, the words “directed by Luc Besson” are scarcely seen. So this weekend, which sees the release of the Besson-directed The Family, is a happy occasion (unless you’re Jack Giroux, our own critic who didn’t particularly care for the film). There’s no better time to take a fond look back at one of Besson’s most ambitious and, not coincidentally, most bizarre films: 1997′s The Fifth Element.

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news bruce willis in a movie

Bruce Willis may be tired of doing the ‘walk away from an explosion without looking back’ move, but casually disregarding a fireball can make you a ton of money. Willis explained it in no uncertain terms- the only reason he still makes action movies is for the sizable paychecks that accompany them. Either Willis has some kind of crippling debt issues or he just really, really likes money (and let’s be honest here- who doesn’t?) because the actor has just signed on to star in The Prince, which is- surprise, surprise- an action film. The story involves a retired mob enforcer who returns home to find his kidnapped daughter and finds a very angry Bruce Willis waiting for him. There’s no word yet on who will be playing the enforcer, but perhaps Willis will step up to the plate and offer to play the other part as well. Then, he’ll establish a monarchy on the island he purchases with both paychecks, solving the mystery of why this movie’s called The Prince.

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02_the_fugitive_blu-ray

Very famously, Harrison Ford is the sort of grumpy curmudgeon who doesn’t like it when he has to field questions about Star Wars or his experiences playing the iconic character Han Solo in that series. Which is understandable, you know, because us nerds can get pretty pushy. Probably the guy would get more sympathy from people if he didn’t then go and do things like make unwanted Indiana Jones sequels, agree to appear in the new Star Wars trilogy, and now agree to appear in yet another series that’s built almost entirely on nerd nostalgia, though. What series based on nostalgia are we talking about? Sylvester Stallone’s Expendables series, wherein the movies always seem like they’re going to be action-packed larks where all of your favorite action stars from the 80s finally team up to go on the same adventure, but then end up being inert bores where old guys dress too young for their own good and do their best to prove that their knees can no longer handle the stress of running (except for JCVD, who was actually good in The Expendables 2).

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RED 2

It’s not easy to make a good sequel. Even when the original film is something like Red, a decently entertaining if mostly forgettable action comedy, you’d think maybe the room for improvement would make it easier. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Maybe a new writer steps in or (as in this case) a new director takes the helm. Maybe the cast doesn’t all want to come back. Maybe it’s just hard to capture the magic or the tone of the original a second time through. Whatever the case, sequels are a bit of gamble from a quality standpoint, and sadly, Red 2 ends up with a losing hand. The gang’s all back again along with some new faces from the over-the-hill-but-still-kind-of-A-list-actor club. Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) is trying to settle into a calm, comfortable, safe life with Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), but Marvin (John Malkovich) keeps trying to pull him back in to espionage. Things start spiraling out of Frank’s control when Marvin goes so far as to fake his own death, and Sarah desperately wants to be along for the ride despite Frank’s best efforts to keep her out of it. They have no choice but to dive back in to the spy world when documents describing an old Cold War bomb project leak on the internet. Suddenly all the world’s intelligence agencies are after them, and Frank, Marvin and Sarah have to stick together to stay alive, find the bomb and save the world.

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die hard scenes

Tomorrow is the 25th anniversary of the release of Die Hard. Know how much it made in it’s opening weekend? $601,851. Of course, that was from only 21 screens in 20 cities. Can you imagine an action movie like this getting such a limited debut today? Well, nobody saw the movie coming, at least not on the level we see it at today, though Fox also hoped the slower roll-out would spark buzz. A modern day take on the western, with a lot of allusion to drive that idea home, the first Die Hard sort of originated a new subgenre of the right place, right time (and wrong place, wrong time) hero that has the action drop in his lap. It’s a real classic, one that truly needs to be added to the National Film Registry (nominate it here), thanks to its influence on the next three decades of cinema (and beyond, since even this year we had a few more Die Hard knockoffs in Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down) as well as its own distinct craftwork (especially the team of director John McTiernan, cinematographer Jan De Bont and screenwriters Jeb Stuart and Steven E. de Souza, along with the Oscar nominated editing by Frank J. Urioste and John F. Link and the Oscar-nominated sound and visual effects, etc…) and its perfect representation of the time in which it was made (including the reflexive significance of the building it was shot at). It’s another movie that is so […]

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diehard5-drinkinggame

When A Good Day to Die Hard hit theaters, there were a lot of questions that needed answering. What happened to the John McClane of the previous Die Hard movies? Did anyone making this movie even look at a map of Russia? Has John McClane (and now his son) become impervious to everything from smashed windows and bullets to all forms of dangerous radiation? Why were any of the characters even in Russia in the first place? Sure, these are all fine questions to ponder if you plan to watch A Good Day to Die Hard. However, if you’re thinking this clearly, the most important question is why you aren’t as inebriated as McClane was at the beginning of Die Hard with a Vengeance (or throughout this entire film). The fifth Die Hard movie is best enjoyed with some poison in your system.

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kendrick

What is Casting Couch? It’s the news column that’s got its ear to the ground, listening for any juicy tidbits coming out of Cannes. Today people like Uma Thurman, Seann William Scott, Amanda Seyfried, and Bruce Willis all got new jobs. Zach Braff hasn’t yet had much of a career as a film director, but if there’s one thing he’s got more experience shooting than most people, it’s tiny girls wearing giant headphones. So chances are Pitch Perfect star Anna Kendrick will be a perfect fit for the cast of his new movie, Wish I Was Here. The Wrap is reporting that she’s just joined the film in the role of Janine, a chick who’s into cosplay and who the Josh Gad character becomes enamored with. However you feel about the controversy surrounding Braff’s Kickstarter funding of this film, you have to admit, added Anna Kendrick just made going to see it sound a whole lot more enticing.

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Basic Instinct 2

When you think about 90s pop culture, you have to think about Paul Verhoeven’s 1992 erotic thriller, Basic Instinct. That movie dropped like a bomb, dominating the entertainment news cycle for months and inspiring years worth of parodies. Its success didn’t come because Michael Douglas’ cop character investigating a murder made for all that interesting a story, or because Verhoeven orchestrated the thing all that well either. It came almost solely because people were so shocked by the content. There were threesomes, ice pick murders, and, of course, there was that interrogation scene where you could catch the briefest glimpse of Sharon Stone’s vagina if you turned your head sideways and squinted. The 90s were more innocent times—before the near daily release of celebrity sex tapes—so this was intense stuff, and Basic Instinct made a mint off the scandal. Two years later, a sporadically working director named Richard Rush tried to cash in on the trashy erotic thriller craze by making Color of Night, a murder story that starred Bruce Willis as a troubled psychologist dealing with the killing of his best friend, and a cast of colorful psychiatric patients that served as the suspects. Like Basic Instinct, the film focused on kinks and perversions of all sorts, and seeing as Willis’ character eventually begins to enjoy the company of a free-spirited minx played by Jane March, it had plenty of saucy nudity too. But the trashy erotic thriller craze proved to be short lived, because, despite the fact that […]

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A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD

Plenty of franchises seem so bonded to their star that it might seem impossible for a remake, reboot or continuation of the series without that actor. Imagine Rocky or Rambo without Sylvester Stallone, for example. But there’s really no reason to think these are safe properties. The former could easily pass its torch to Rocky’s son, a common concept for rebooting without starting completely over, and the latter could be redone with an Iraq War veteran. We’ve seen The Terminator without Arnold Schwarzenegger, Indiana Jones without Harrison Ford, Alien without Sigourney Weaver, Home Alone without Macauley Culkin and Smokey and the Bandit without Burt Reynolds. One day we could see Beverly Hills Cop without Eddie Murphy, ‘Crocodile’ Dundee without Paul Hogan and even Madea without Tyler Perry under the wig. But there’s absolutely no way for Hollywood to redo Die Hard, especially after A Good Day to Die Hard. Parts of the new movie even seem to be making a case for why there’s no possibility of the series existing without Bruce Willis. Perhaps the actor is actually intentionally sabotaging the property, running it into the ground with a portrayal unrecognizable from the original and a plot that is so bland and outside of what the first film stood for that fans won’t even care about the brand name by the end — unfortunately for anyone truly scheming, as we see with Star Wars, fans can come back from anything, and also this sequel is on track to do at […]

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FILM JOCKEYS HEADER

What happens when a legendary film critic brings is geriatric crankiness to an internet movie show? Film Jockeys follows the adventures of Carl Barker, his far-too-young production staff, the filmmakers and the movie characters that inhabit their world. Written and illustrated by Derek Bacon, it’s the perfect webcomic for passionate film fans who also want to know whether A Good Day to Die Hard is worth seeing. For your consideration, Episode #10:

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A Good Day to Die Hard Teaser

This is traditionally where the plot synopsis goes, but by simply listing the events that take place in this film, we would be showing more concern for the plot than did the screenwriter of A Good Day to Die Hard. As a (to sidestep the obvious pun, let’s just say “confirmed”) fan of this series, it breaks my heart to see it devolve over the last two films into generic action fluff. It is inevitable that the review of the fifth Die Hard movie would feature a reheated recital of the facets of the original that engendered such an enduring affection, and thereby chart the shortcomings of the latest installment. A Good Day to Die Hard has actually made it easier to avoid the fanboy trap, as each of its many offenses against the franchise are part and parcel of its failure at far more basic components of filmmaking and storytelling. In AGDtDH, John McClane (Bruce Willis) is no longer a put-upon wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time Hithcockian hero; Jimmy Stewart with a badge. A movie ago, he crossed into absurd superhero territory, but that not even who he is in the fifth installment. Well, he is that as well, but that’s not the unfortunate attribute that defines him. Instead, he is the supreme ugly American. He is the guy who punches innocent Moscow citizens because he can’t understand what they are saying. He drives a truck over the tops of civilian traffic throwing a flippant, “sorry, lady” to the woman he’s presumably crushed […]

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ds die hard 25th

The fifth film in the Die Hard series hits theaters in less than two weeks so it makes sense that 20th Century Fox would want to cash in on the impending excitement with the 25th Anniversary Blu-ray Collection. Sure the first four films have already been released as a set with the same transfers and features, and sure they could have waited until A Good Day to Die Hard makes its way to Blu-ray/DVD this summer to include it… but it’s not like film fans have ever shown an aversion to double or triple-dipping. And cynical commentary aside, I’m one of those fans. The new set includes all four current films as well as over a hundred minutes worth of new special features. The movie discs are essentially unchanged from their previous appearances, but Fox has vastly improved the case by making it a sturdy book-like model that slides into an outer sleeve with discs that slip into waxed sleeves instead of popping onto plastic buttons. It’s  a solid release on the outside, but how does it stack up inside? Keep reading for a look at Fox’s new Die Hard 25th Anniversary Blu-ray Collection.

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Drinking Games

The upcoming Die Hard sequel causes a range of emotions. There are joyous ones, knowing that the film will be rated R and John McClane’s famous catchphrase will be spoken without being drowned out by a gunshot. There are also less happy emotions with the knowledge that A Good Day to Die Hard is being released in February rather than in the more traditional summer months. Whether you’re chomping at the bit for the new movie or if you’re bellyaching that it will be more sanitized like the fourth film, you can still always enjoy the original. Grab your Christmas-themed drink and hop on the horse to get drunk hard.

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February Must Sees

This February isn’t such a hot month for movie-going. When it comes to genuine “must-sees,” there are only two movies on this list which earn that title, and they’re the expected picks. January could have been worse, but this February won’t do 2013 any favors, unless the fifth Die Hard movie ends up blowing everyone’s socks off, and since it’s from the director of Max Payne, how could it not? In short, this year isn’t off to a good start. We got spoiled with last December, as we usually do, so hopefully we see something genuinely great soon, unless you thought Mama overcame a lackluster script, that Movie 43 wasn’t the Antichrist sent from Satan himself, and if you even remember that movie with Mark Wahlberg and Russell Crowe. The Last Stand isn’t included, because no more than five people saw it. Hopefully a few of you go out to see these movies and have a fun time, though:

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Unbreakable Die Hard Sequel

Action heroes, or more accurately the stars who play them, are not often credited as being endowed of great intelligence. In fact, they are more likely relegated to the less distinguished, but no less scientific category of dummy dumb dumbheads. And yet, scratch the surface of the career of each of the biggest, beefheadiest action stars and you will find, in addition to giant foreheads and a shocking dearth of necks, at least one self-aware introspection masquerading as a movie. It would appear that not being able to spell “existential crisis” does not preclude one from suffering one. These aren’t necessarily brilliant deconstructions, in fact they are usually somewhat clever with plenty of destruction. Regardless, it is an interesting trend to note and often amounts to some very underrated fare from our meta muscleheads. In one specific instance however, an action hero’s meta movie can be so meta as to conceal its true identity as such. Could it be that the greatest twist Shyamalan ever pulled was convincing the world it didn’t exist? We’ll get to the inarguable meta connection between Unbreakable and Die Hard shortly, but first, to understand this connection, it’s important to identify the inner-directed titles of our most elusive hero’s contemporaries.

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hunnam-shaved-head

What is Casting Couch? It’s having trouble finding casting news in a week where the entire film industry’s eyes are turned to Sundance, but it was able to dig up a couple nuggets anyway. Not a lot is known about Guillermo del Toro’s upcoming project, Crimson Peak, but what we do know is that it’s supposed to be some kind of ghost story, and del Toro is in the final stages of securing Emma Stone to star in it. And now there’s some new news about who the male lead is going to be. Variety is reporting that Charlie Hunnam, the Sons of Anarchy star who del Toro recently worked with on Pacific Rim, is now on board the movie as well. Seeing as details regarding the plot are being kept under wraps, there’s no way of really knowing what role Hunnam is going to play, but probably that doesn’t matter. Honestly, this one had everybody at Emma Stone.

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RED 2

2010′s Red was a fun action romp that featured both the expected in Bruce Willis and the unexpected in a hilarious John Malkovich and a gun-toting Helen Mirren. The $58 million comic adaptation grossed $200 million world-wide, and Summit happily moved forward on green-lighting a sequel. (Those sons of bitches over at Paramount can take a hint from that decision.) Most of the surviving cast members are returning alongside screenwriters Erich and Jon Hoeber, but director Robert Schwentke is not. Dean Parisot is taking his place, and while his name may not be recognizable maybe you’ve heard of a little, near perfect gem called Galaxy Quest? Yeah, he made that one. Check out Red 2‘s old school action below.

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A Good Day to Die Hard Teaser

It wasn’t the only thing messing with its mojo, but the PG-13 rating did exactly zero favors for Live Free or Die Hard. It was tough to see a character whose catchphrase involves the term “motherfucker” reduced to melonfarming and shooting bullets at people filled with pillow stuffing instead of blood, but the right has been wronged for A Good Day to Die Hard. According to Collider, the newest incarnation of John McClane as superhero has received the coveted R-rating which means, at the very least, that Bruce Willis will actually get to say his slogan with full gusto this time. Of course, the rating itself doesn’t save the franchise from its own absurdity. If director John Moore and company can turn McClane back into the simple, headache-owning cop by ripping off the cape the series has slowly given him, it’ll be a step in the only right direction. Fortunately, they’re going with the “Passing the Torch” plot concept. One that has never, ever, ever come of as forced and terrible. The potential of Jai Courtney as McClane Jr. aside, we’ll get to see Willis throw a tank into the Kremlin or something come February 14th. Romantic!

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Rian Johnson

Writer/director Rian Johnson‘s Looper is an intricately told film. Nearly every scene in the movie is packed full of new information, from character development to world building. As Johnson explains finding that structure, it was like creating stepping stones across a pond for the audience, so they don’t fall into the pond of mind-numbing exposition. That wasn’t an easy path to make, either. Johnson spent many years developing the story from a two-page treatment to a feature length film, and much of that process was dedicated to handling all of the film’s information. After Looper‘s box office and critical success, it’s fair to say he managed with flying colors. With the movie out on Blu-ray, Johnson took some time to speak with us about the story’s mother/son dynamic, why the best science fiction has something we care deeply about at its core, and his desire to write more economically:

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