A reader named Ed Wilson tipped me off to the following outrageous lunacy:
“In June’s VANITY FAIR, it states that Bruce Willis was initially disappointed that his fourth DIE HARD film will likely be cut to get a PG-13 rating rather than an R. ‘I really wanted this one to live up to the promise of the first one, which I always thought was the only really good one.’ And he’s not happy about it. ‘That’s a studio decision that is becoming more and more common, because they’re trying to reach a broader audience. It seems almost a courageous move to give a picture an R rating these days. But we still made a pretty hardcore, smashmouth film.'”
Dearest 19th Century Fox:
Howdy. Name’s Vern, nice to meet you. I am writing to ask you one question. WHAT IN GOD’S NAME ARE YOU JOKERS TRYING TO PULL?
Before you blow me off to go bathe in that champagne/money/panda blood mixture you have in your hot tub, please be aware that I am not speaking as a member of the internet community, or associate of the nerd community. I think ALL communites agree with me on this, except maybe the Amish, who don’t watch movies and are therefore neutral. I am speaking as an American, and as a citizen of the world. You can’t fucking do that to DIE HARD.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought the movie was called LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD. But from what Vanity Fair is saying here, it sounds more like LIVE FREE OR DIE– WELL, LET’S NOT DIE TOO HARD, THERE ARE CHILDREN PRESENT. Which, in my opinion, is not as good of a title.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. If we make a horrible movie for babies and make it PG-13, it will make lots of money. The movies that make money these days are worthless garbage intentionally designed to be of a low quality, intelligence and entertainment value, in order to lower standards, make people stupider, destroy our culture and make short-term, tainted money for our evil corporation. Okay, fair enough. You know your business, I can’t argue with your money piles.
But let me remind you of a couple movies you guys had something to do with.
Exhibit A: DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE, aka DIE HARD 3
Exhibit B: DIE HARD 2, aka DIE HARDER
Exhibit C: DIE HARD, aka GREATEST AMERICAN ACTION MOVIE OF ALL TIME
There are many things these three movies have in common. Two of them: they made you all kinds of money (untainted money that you could be proud of) and they were Rated-R.
DIE HARD is a name you’re gonna have a hard time living up to, even with an R-rating. The world is already skeptical. Does organic John McClane have to be updated to the CGI world to fight computer hackers? We don’t know. We’re not sure about this role playing vampire sissy being the director, either. Some people have trouble with the title LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD, even though it’s awesome. The trailer is pretty good, but you’ve got a bald, fearless John McClane we have to get used to, plus you teamed him with that smarmy prick from the Mac commercials, and I know I personally came VERY close to ritualistically burning myself in front of your offices when I found out you put Kevin Smith in the movie as a wacky computer genius. I bet you ten bucks Argyle (limo driver from part 1) could take him in a fight, hack into a database faster than him AND direct a better movie. But that’s beside the point.
My point is that you have alot going against you. I, as a die hard DIE HARD die hard, am willing to give you a chance. I am praying for a real DIE HARD. The world of action cinema NEEDS a real DIE HARD. Let me tell you something. I am not like Harry, I don’t get sent the scoops all the time. But a while back, as filming was starting up on this thing, somebody sent me the script. People were up in arms against this thing, the word that was leaking out was not inspiring confidence, and I think the idea was that I would read it, I would be outraged at how it was a bad DIE HARD sequel, and I would start some kind of online crusade against it and try to get them to stop and rewrite or something.
What I did instead, I didn’t read the script, not even the first page. I was suspecting that this probaly would be an unworthy sequel. But on the off chance that it wasn’t I didn’t want to ruin it for myself. I wanted to go into that theater, sit down and see a brand new fuckin DIE HARD movie. And if not be “blown through the back of the theater,” at least there would be a cool breeze of awesomeness blowing me lightly against the back of my seat, and cooling me off on a hot June day. What could be better than that? I’m keeping my hopes up. I’ve been rationalizing away all the parts that look bad and keeping my fingers crossed.
But if you cut the movie for babies, you finally lost me. I don’t know if I would even pay to see that shit. If I did I might not admit it to anybody.
You know what a PG-13 action movie is? It’s THE MARINE starring John Cena. Not a good movie, not a profitable movie. It’s HALF PAST DEAD, Steven Seagal’s only PG-13 movie, which also happens to be his last theatrical movie. Hmmm, that’s odd, I wonder how that happened? When people name their favorite American studio action movies, they’re gonna talk about DIE HARD, LETHAL WEAPON, PREDATOR, maybe UNDER SIEGE, maybe SPEED. If you want to go even more sci-fi than PREDATOR you could include TERMINATOR 1&2, THE MATRIX, ALIENS, ROBOCOP, TOTAL RECALL, etc. All rated-R movies, all good movies, all profitable movies. That’s how you die hard. PG-13 is not dying hard.
As a measure of caution, I am asking all movie writers to pull a nerd-Hans-Grueber and hold the title hostage. Do not use the word “HARD” on the title until we have been given proof of a hard rating. As long as there is a chance of a dishonorable PG-13, please only refer to this one as DIE SOFT, DIE LIMP, DIE WEAK, DIE FEEBLE, DIE FRAGILE, DIE COMPROMISED, DIE IN A PUDDLE OF YOUR OWN URINE AFRAID OF FACING THE CONSEQUENCES OF BEING A MAN, etc. I personally will follow this rule and I hope my colleagues will as well.
If you make this PG-13, you might get your opening weekend, it might be as big as if it was R. On the other hand, people might say “What? A new DIE HARD? Where he’s bald? And the title is funny? And the Macintosh guy is in it? And fucking Silent Bob? And it’s PG-13? I don’t want to see that shit!” Or, “Bruce Willis said it was supposed to be R-rated, and he was really disappointed, I’ll just wait until the real, actual adult version of the movie is available for free, illegal, non-Fox-money-giving download after some pissed off studio employee leaks it.”
And the 13-16 year olds you’re banking the legacy of DIE HARD on will say “that old guy from 16 BLOCKS is supposed to be tough? Ha ha” and then they will pout sullenly as they text each other and listen to crappy music on iPods. And this might make the Macintosh wacky sidekick guy happy, but it will not get you any money. Which, in this ugly scenario, will be the fate you deserve.
Keep in mind, a 16 year old today was 4 years old when the last (and not even best) DIE HARD came out. Do you think he or she gives a fuck about DIE HARD? And if so, isn’t that odd, that somehow he or she has seen an R-rated movie? It’s almost as if it can be profitable to release R-rated movies. Weird.
And before you pull some kind of cheap “yeah, but GRINDHOUSE was Rated-R and it lost money” bullshit, remember this: BRUCE WILLIS WAS IN GRINDHOUSE. What are you gonna do, cut him out of LIVE FREE OR DIE FRAIL just to be safe? Come on, people.
Best case scenario, moneywise: you make a ton of money on it. But everybody feels ripped off. Your precious franchise is dead forever. The shine on an American classic gets a little less bright. Everybody starts associating the real DIE HARD with this horse shit and thinking it’s not as good as they remembered it. You sell less copies when the old, actual genuine made-for-adults good DIE HARD movies come out on HD-DVD, BLU-RAY and whatever other futuristic formats come into existence. Nobody will even consider making a new sequel or video game or downloadable ringtone or Happy Meal toy. When you die, you will realize that in the long run you could’ve made more money on this DIE HARD thing, and without having to shame an entire country to do it. You could’ve held your head proud instead of saying, “yeah, but this is a business, we are not here to do good things for the world and humanity, we are here to steal their money and then rationalize it by saying that ultimately it is a business.”
And the real kicker will be when you realize that the stress caused by knowing the damage you had done to cinema and culture had made you ill, causing your last years to be miserable. If only you had known now what you will know then. That you could’ve had it both ways. You could’ve lived free AND died hard.
Yipee kay yay, etc.
I’m not gonna call out any studio head names, I don’t know who’s responsible. But for God’s sake – listen to Bruce. DIE HARD is for grown ups. And for kids who are allowed to go to R-rated movies with grownups. It is part of a long tradition of dads taking their kids to see R-rated movies, and making them think their dad is cool. If you pull this punk PG-13 move their dads will no longer be cool. The American family could fall apart.
Do the right thing, pal. There is a clear path to follow here. What do you think John McClane would do? Would he sissy out? Fuck no. You know who you are in DIE HARD – you’re Ellis. Go back and watch it. I think you’ll be interested to find out what happens to Ellis.
Don’t blow it, buddy. Don’t be Ellis. Be a man. Don’t die soft. You know how you want to die.
Originally posted at Ain’t-It-Cool-News: http://www.aintitcool.com/node/32511
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VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.