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Brad Bird: Why the OG 'Die Hard' Still Rules

Feb. 21, 2013by: Niki Stephens

A little part of us dies inside when a DIE HARD movie is not successful. This is the case with A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD. But what made it fail? Depends on who you are talking to. Terrible villains, over the top action, embarrassing CGI, bad script, and boring are a few of the examples I've overheard. However, let's not focus on that. Remember the feeling you got when you saw the original DIE HARD? What a lovely gift to the world of cinema.

Director Brad Bird wrote a small article in Rolling Stone on why the first installment is still awesome. I think he hits the nail right on the head. As if I needed a reason to love him more.

This is what he had to say:

Hands down, the original Die Hard is one of the greatest action movies ever made it's relentlessly inventive, engaging and funny at the same time.

Bruce Willis' John McClane is in the tradition of Sean Connery as James Bond and Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones a hero who shows fear. He's a guy who is continually petrified by what's happening to him, but that doesn't keep him from pushing through it. And instead of making the hero smaller for the audience, it makes him larger because we recognize the fear. Alan Rickman was a fantastic villain, too.

John McTiernan's direction is an amazing piece of intricate craftsmanship. What a lot of filmmakers have trouble communicating is a sense of geography. For instance, one floor of a building under construction looks a lot like any other floor. But McTiernan put in little things, like a Playboy centerfold hung up by a construction worker. At first it seems like a visual joke, but it's really there to identify that floor, so when Willis encounters it again, the audience knows exactly where he is. Many directors also shoot action very sloppily they shoot up close and cut around a lot and put in all these big noises to distract you. But in Die Hard, you know where every character is every second of the movie. Things are going by at a fast clip, but you're never lost.

Most action movies have great sequences, but they aren't great movies. Die Hard starts great and just stays at that level from beginning to end.

Source: Rolling Stone

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+17
8:58PM on 02/21/2013
He got a point. Speaking of which, Brad Bird should direct the next Die Hard movie.
He got a point. Speaking of which, Brad Bird should direct the next Die Hard movie.
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+14
9:28PM on 02/21/2013
The reason Die Hard is such an amazing action film to this day is because he feels human. Glass breaks, he feels it. Get's in to fights, he feels it. Shows fear, mocks it, but is still afraid. He's so humanized in the first film. A cop put in to a bad situation where he knows he has to survive to save the people in the building. He may win, he may lose, but he'll give it all he has.
The reason Die Hard is such an amazing action film to this day is because he feels human. Glass breaks, he feels it. Get's in to fights, he feels it. Shows fear, mocks it, but is still afraid. He's so humanized in the first film. A cop put in to a bad situation where he knows he has to survive to save the people in the building. He may win, he may lose, but he'll give it all he has.
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10:20PM on 02/21/2013
Honestly, if Die Hard 6 is coming then they either need to wait for John McTiernan to get out of jail and have it be his big come back film (if Martha Stewart can be successful post-prison, so can he) or offer it to Brad Bird.
Honestly, if Die Hard 6 is coming then they either need to wait for John McTiernan to get out of jail and have it be his big come back film (if Martha Stewart can be successful post-prison, so can he) or offer it to Brad Bird.
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+10
11:46PM on 02/21/2013

NAIL ON HEAD!!!!

See, this guy gets it. And it shows i.e. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. We seriously don't get enough directors like him these days!
See, this guy gets it. And it shows i.e. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. We seriously don't get enough directors like him these days!
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9:51PM on 02/21/2013
"Many directors also shoot action very sloppily: they shoot up close and cut around a lot and put in all these big noises to distract you."

A keen observation and one of the many problems with the latest Die Hard. You go Brad Bird!
"Many directors also shoot action very sloppily: they shoot up close and cut around a lot and put in all these big noises to distract you."

A keen observation and one of the many problems with the latest Die Hard. You go Brad Bird!
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8:46PM on 02/21/2013
Brad Bird is right. This movie is still one of the best (if not the best) action movies of all time. It's a shame no one at 20th Century Fox can make a sequel that can really match up to the original.....unless we release John McTiernan from jail and make him direct the next Die Hard.
Brad Bird is right. This movie is still one of the best (if not the best) action movies of all time. It's a shame no one at 20th Century Fox can make a sequel that can really match up to the original.....unless we release John McTiernan from jail and make him direct the next Die Hard.
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2:09AM on 02/22/2013
How the fuck is John Mctiernan in prison and John Moore free to walk the Earth?
How the fuck is John Mctiernan in prison and John Moore free to walk the Earth?
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10:28AM on 02/22/2013
Because under the law of the land he didn't do anything illegal. Movie jail might decide otherwise.
Because under the law of the land he didn't do anything illegal. Movie jail might decide otherwise.
+9
10:28PM on 02/21/2013
Damn right Die Hard one is the best. Die Hard 2 was alright it, but Die Hard 3 is the only one that can be called a Die Hard sequel. The new Die Hards just suck, and has left me feeling burned out of the series.
Damn right Die Hard one is the best. Die Hard 2 was alright it, but Die Hard 3 is the only one that can be called a Die Hard sequel. The new Die Hards just suck, and has left me feeling burned out of the series.
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8:53PM on 02/21/2013

yes yes yes

couldn't agree with this more.
and, btw, what a little run mctiernan had. predator, die hard, hunt for red october...not many directors have churned out a better trio in succession. even spielberg--who no one would debate is a better, more accomplished director than john mctiernan--even he didn't have three in a row as good as those. hitchcock comes close with dial m for murder/rear window/to catch a thief. who else?

*please note i did zero research on this, and there are probably a
couldn't agree with this more.
and, btw, what a little run mctiernan had. predator, die hard, hunt for red october...not many directors have churned out a better trio in succession. even spielberg--who no one would debate is a better, more accomplished director than john mctiernan--even he didn't have three in a row as good as those. hitchcock comes close with dial m for murder/rear window/to catch a thief. who else?

*please note i did zero research on this, and there are probably a dozen directors with comparable threes.
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10:13AM on 02/22/2013
Fair enough bro the only one that came to mind actually was Francis Ford Coppola Godather, Part 2, The Conversation (brutally underrated and overlooked) follow that threesome of ridiculousness with Apocalypse Now and baby you got yourself a stew.
Fair enough bro the only one that came to mind actually was Francis Ford Coppola Godather, Part 2, The Conversation (brutally underrated and overlooked) follow that threesome of ridiculousness with Apocalypse Now and baby you got yourself a stew.
+8
6:04AM on 02/22/2013

Great comments

Although as much as I'm sure Brad Bird would do a lovely job with a Die Hard movie, I personally want to see it go to Shane Black.
Although as much as I'm sure Brad Bird would do a lovely job with a Die Hard movie, I personally want to see it go to Shane Black.
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1:08AM on 02/22/2013
There is a reason why Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is the best of that particular series; and, there is a reason why Brad Bird has a strong filmography in the American film biz....(i.e. Brad Bird knows his stuff).

The original Die Hard is my fave along with #3; and, it's interesting he mentions Indiana Jones, since I enjoy Raiders and Last Crusade the best.
There is a reason why Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is the best of that particular series; and, there is a reason why Brad Bird has a strong filmography in the American film biz....(i.e. Brad Bird knows his stuff).

The original Die Hard is my fave along with #3; and, it's interesting he mentions Indiana Jones, since I enjoy Raiders and Last Crusade the best.
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8:45PM on 02/21/2013

Kudos

Bravo and well said Mr. Bird...I couldn't agree more and hope we get to see smart filmmaking like this in the action genre again one day...
Bravo and well said Mr. Bird...I couldn't agree more and hope we get to see smart filmmaking like this in the action genre again one day...
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11:22AM on 02/22/2013

He gets what makes the original a masterpiece of action cinema.

They'd do well to hire him for the next, but, unfortunately, it seems Fox would rather employ hacks for the series who are easily controllable and guns-for-hire. And, as a result, the series has been tainted and I doubt someone coming off the success of MI4 and Pixar would want to get involved with a franchise like this. It's sad, because the first four Die Hards are still great action movies.
They'd do well to hire him for the next, but, unfortunately, it seems Fox would rather employ hacks for the series who are easily controllable and guns-for-hire. And, as a result, the series has been tainted and I doubt someone coming off the success of MI4 and Pixar would want to get involved with a franchise like this. It's sad, because the first four Die Hards are still great action movies.
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+4
9:52AM on 02/22/2013

Why can't FOX hire a good director, like Bird?

They keep shoving this franchise into the hands of some of the worst directors in Hollywood, and somehow think that it will turn out fine...

Or writers for that matter, I can't imagine how horrible the script for GDTDH was.
They keep shoving this franchise into the hands of some of the worst directors in Hollywood, and somehow think that it will turn out fine...

Or writers for that matter, I can't imagine how horrible the script for GDTDH was.
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8:51PM on 02/21/2013
Brad Bird speaks the truth!
Brad Bird speaks the truth!
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6:25PM on 02/22/2013
Well as much as I really was disapointed with A Good Day to Die Hard I atleast enjoyed it for the action. Im glad the sequel did well too it saves us from a reboot staring Chris Pine (not that I have a problem with him) as John McClain for awhile. I know when after the 6th movie they will reboot the series which I will absolutly be pissed about. I hope when it comes down to it they would continue the series with John McClain's son (maybe a new actor though) and have a reboot/sequel and keep it
Well as much as I really was disapointed with A Good Day to Die Hard I atleast enjoyed it for the action. Im glad the sequel did well too it saves us from a reboot staring Chris Pine (not that I have a problem with him) as John McClain for awhile. I know when after the 6th movie they will reboot the series which I will absolutly be pissed about. I hope when it comes down to it they would continue the series with John McClain's son (maybe a new actor though) and have a reboot/sequel and keep it going that way over a reboot.
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1:15AM on 02/22/2013
"A little part of us dies inside when a DIE HARD movie is not successful."

A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD has already earned over $120 million worldwide after only a week. It is "successful." Whether or not it "works" or is "any good" is a whole other discussion amongst us film nerds. "Successful" is the wrong adjective. Just saying.

I do not agree with Bird's comparison of John McClane and James Bond. Bond never showed fear in any of the ridiculous insurmountable positions he found himself in.
"A little part of us dies inside when a DIE HARD movie is not successful."

A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD has already earned over $120 million worldwide after only a week. It is "successful." Whether or not it "works" or is "any good" is a whole other discussion amongst us film nerds. "Successful" is the wrong adjective. Just saying.

I do not agree with Bird's comparison of John McClane and James Bond. Bond never showed fear in any of the ridiculous insurmountable positions he found himself in. He's Superman for Christ's sake, the complete opposite of what made everyman McClane so endearing in the first three films. The lame Bond reference in A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD perfectly-suited the over-the-top and cartoony direction the series have gone. The comparison to Indiana Jones who is "making this up as I go" is much more accurate.

Otherwise, his description is spot on regarding one of the greatest action films ever made.
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3:23AM on 02/22/2013
yea James Bond doesn't really fit the character. I'd say a mix of Indiana Jones, Axel Foley from Beverly Hills Cop, and Keanu Reeves character from Constantine. The closest would probably be Mel Gibson's character in Lethal Weapon.
yea James Bond doesn't really fit the character. I'd say a mix of Indiana Jones, Axel Foley from Beverly Hills Cop, and Keanu Reeves character from Constantine. The closest would probably be Mel Gibson's character in Lethal Weapon.
9:18PM on 02/21/2013

Nice...

WHy all the hate on the new die hard movie though its not that bad. Yes it's over the top, and the CGI was shit poor in that last scene. LOL but damn it still held my interest. And that car chase scene was the best I've seen in a long time.
WHy all the hate on the new die hard movie though its not that bad. Yes it's over the top, and the CGI was shit poor in that last scene. LOL but damn it still held my interest. And that car chase scene was the best I've seen in a long time.
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