What can I say about the first three Die Hard films that hasn’t already been said? It is, without question, one of the few action trilogies where, despite the similar structure in all three entries, offered a change of environment in each that made for a different, arguably still exciting experience every time. The films follow the adventures of John McClane, a New York City cop who finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time over and over again-1988’s Die Hard saw him trapped in a skyscraper armed with little more than his wits when a criminal organization seizes control of the building, 1990’s Die Hard 2: Die Harder followed him as he tries to save an airport in a similar situation, and 1995’s Die Hard with a Vengeance found him on the streets of his home turf in New York doing essentially the exact same things. Same premise, always fun. As McClane, Bruce Willis brought forth a character that was equal parts John Wayne and your average Joe, full of catchphrases and the keen ability to think fast on his bare feet. That’s a reference to the first film, in case you were unaware.
It was these films that laid the foundation for the plentiful, highly comparable action films that followed-1992’s Passenger 57 (Die Hard on a plane), 1994’s Speed (Die Hard on a bus), 1995’s Sudden Death (Die Hard in a hockey arena), 1996’s Executive Decision (Die Hard on a plane, again), 1992’s Under Siege (Die Hard on a boat), 1996’s Under Siege 2: Dark Territory (Die Hard on a train), 1996’s The Rock (Die Hard at Alcatraz), 1997’s Air Force One (Die Hard on a plane, yet again), 2013’s Olympus Has Fallen (Die Hard in The White House)…the list goes on, and on, and on.
Not that there’s a problem with that. I love those movies.
2007 brought us Live Free or Die Hard, the first new Die Hard film in twelve years that once again caught up with McClane as he did battle with cyberterrorism and was accompanied by Justin Long, of all people. The film was a box office success and met with mostly positive reviews, with a handful of critics unfortunately believing that Live Free had failed to capture the heart of the original trilogy. Six years later McClane returned once more with 2013’s A Good Day to Die Hard, now catching up with McClane in Russia as he joined forces with his son (the always-unreliable Jai Courtney) to again do battle with an endless supply of faceless goons. A Good Day was viewed as an outright mess, with McClane and son escaping death time after time with barely a scratch to the point where one wondered if the McClanes had somehow attained a bizarre video game-esque level of indestructability.
It really didn’t work at all.
When it was announced that a sixth Die Hard was in the early stages of production, I couldn’t help but feel a frothy mix of interest and disgust. On one hand, I’ll always look forward to more John McClane exploits, while on the other hand, A Good Day to Die Hard was tremendously bad. Was the series really worth re-visiting yet again? Furthermore, the premise soon leaked that Die Hard 6 would revolve around a younger McClane, presumably played by a younger actor, in his early days on the force…so, no Bruce Willis?
It was around this time that a motivated writer (and admitted Die Hard fanatic) named Eric Wilkinson took out a full-page ad in The Hollywood Reporter to pitch his idea for the sixth, as-yet still untitled film. An ambitious plan, to be sure, and one that Wilkinson fully acknowledged might not produce any results. Nevertheless, the ad hit newsstands in November of 2015 and quickly caused widespread (albeit brief) buzz from many industry professionals, most of whom saw his treatment as a fitting bookend to the series as a whole. With a structure that not only picks up where A Good Day to Die Hard leaves off but incorporates both the aforementioned flashback idea as well as finding present-day McClane (and his beleaguered wife, Holly) in a situation identical to the original Die Hard, Wilkinson‘s one-page foundation for Die Hard 6 evokes a strong sense of nostalgia while immediately getting one fired up for a potentially amazing film. Sadly, it appears that Die Hard 6 will not utilize this promising premise, instead still focusing on the flashback as originally intended, but at least the ad is still available online for everyone’s viewing pleasure, allowing all of us to revel in what might have been.
For your convenience, I have posted his article below. Enjoy!