Andrew Cooper wasn’t happy with the recent “Die Hard” film. What would he do next?
Disclaimer: Take the following with a giant grain of salt.
In Space, No One Can Hear You Die Hard or Die Hard 6 makes a glorious return to the series’ R-Rated roots with John McClane (Bruce Willis) waking up in hyperspace seven light-years from Earth. Dazed and confused with the “biggest fucking hangover of all time”, John realises he has been kidnapped by aliens for an unknown reason. It happened around 1995, in fact, just before he got to reunite with wife Holly.
With nothing but a pair of boxer shorts (I guess evil aliens have some manners), John makes his way through the cramped and well-guarded corridors of the craft using nothing but his wits and his pre- 9/11 New York hospitality. While this John is replaced by a CGI facial rendition of his earlier self, the technology has made quantum leaps beyond Tron Legacy, and has actually started to climb toward the uncanny valley in my opinion. While others disagree, I’m glad they bought young John back. Soon, our hero realises that he has been replaced by a bald alien clone, and must fight his way back to Earth.
Despite what you’re thinking, Die Hard 6 is the best Die Hard since With a Vengeance. While it doesn’t quite top the original, and of course the race across NY defusing bombs, it does bring back the old school McClane charm and pits an ordinary New York cop against a new and menacing threat. Fortunately, the alien baddies in DH6 are great, and are far more believable than anything A Good Day to Die Hard had to offer. In fact, there wasn’t much of an antagonistic presence in the previous film whatsoever, as the villain or villains kinda melted into the background with the rest of the movie’s actors. In the sixth instalment, the main “bad guy” (apart from evil John) is played by none other than Patrick Stewart who essays a chilling, yet flamboyant antagonist; almost a cross between Captain Picard and The Joker. Every moment with Patrick is a moment that every Die Hard fan will enjoy quoting repeatedly, especially compared to the very boring and forgettable villains in Live Free and A Good Day.
The moments in space are filled with tension, and the light humour comes out of the situation, rather than feeling forced. One of the best moments in the film involves zero gravity and a breech in the ship’s hull; just pure tension and heart-pumping action. Also, John in the aftermath is revealed to indeed be human, and not he character he plays in Unbreakable accidentally shoe-horned into a Die Hard film.
The film climaxes as our hero returns to Earth just a few months after A Good Day to Die Hard. It’s Christmas Eve and time to take out the trash. Here, the film becomes a cat and mouse thrill-ride as the two Johns stalk each other, leading up to a denouement atop the newly rebuilt Nakatomi Plaza and bringing back a flood of nostalgia. While this would usually be a cheap move in order to link it closer to the original, much like “Ode to Joy” and the glass-breaking sequence of A Good Day, this one actually feels like a welcome homage as the two McClanes fight – Old School Cop vs Genetically Enhanced Super-Cop.
The film ends with our hero, battered and bruised in hospital, missing one of his hands. He’s being fed Christmas dinner by Holly (Bonnie Bedelia), and his family are beside him happy to have their real father back. And as “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” plays in the background, the camera pulls out to give our hero the must-needed rest he deserves, just before “Let it Snow” adorns the credits (followed by “Ode to Joy”, of course, let’s just go the whole nine or ten yards).
This is truly the sequel to Die Hard With a Vengeance we have been looking for all these years. It’s crazy to say, but even with the ridiculous story concept of John McClane in space, it still manages to stay closer to the spirit of the original trilogy compared to what we got with Die Hard 4.0 (well, at least that was watchable) and A Good Day to Die Hard (which made me want to hurt kittens). In Space, No One Can Hear You Die Hard gets a 7/10, and would have got an 8 if they had just called it Die Hardest. But you can’t expect everything to go right when returning a beloved action series to its former glory.