Most of the powers that govern my childhood memory are pretty much summed up with a simple statement. I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s. These two decade are marked with such different cultural norms and phenomena it is hard to believe the 70’s ever preceded them. Air metal bands, spandex, Legos, Rubix cubes, MTV, Saved by the Bell, stripped polo shirts; these are the things that come to my mind when I think about the time area of the mid 80’s to the early 90’s. Even more so then all of these aspects – I am reminded of the golden area of action films. Die Hard, Rambo, Conan,Terminator and other action films like these marked an age where macho heroics were the only reason for wanton destruction. But more importantly, the best thing about these films is that unlike action films today, I could believe them.
Far be it for me to attempt to explain my personal definition of verisimilitude. Ever since the Matrix, action films have become more and more ridiculous. I am more than willing to watch a movie like Superman or Spiderman and be 100% behind the main character. In the universe presented, super human feats are possible. Now – we can argue Spiderman does more since he has more physical limitations than Superman, thus his accomplishments are of more value but that is an argument for another time. My focus is on the believability of “real life” movies. I think no further study needs to be made than the comparison of the latest Die Hard film Live Free or Die Hard to the first one made in 1988. Bruce Willis as Officer John McClane is the quintessential 80’s hero. His swagger and charm are matched entirely with a spirit that can only be described as “American”. To put it short – he is a badass. He knows it. We know it. The only people who don’t know it are the bad guys whose collective asses he’s going to kick for two hours straight. We know he is going to win and the ride is marked with great laughs, well choreographed fight scenes and a satisfying ending when the final bad guy is vanquished. How can this same exact formula fail so horribly in the latest film?
I suppose since Stallone was able to resurrect his Rocky franchise with acclaimed results, Bruce Willis thought he could to. The only problem is, you can’t apply the current standard for film making to a movie franchise which established the 80’s way of doing things … you end up with what is essentially a living contradiction. Heck, there is a scene in the new Die Hard where Bruce Willis’ character ramps his car, hits a helicopter with it and destroys the helicopter. After, one character comments, “You just killed a helicopter with a car!” To which McClane responds, “I was out of bullets.” Does anyone else have a problem with this? Is this the kind of meat head bravado that defines our movies now? Yea, McClane performed some outlandish feats in the old Die Hard but it was believable. His actions embodied the indomitable strength of our wonder and we believed he was capable of these things. Why, 20 years later, does the action have to be so over the top – so highly technical that it seems TOO planned? Maybe it is just my personal taste but I miss those old movies. The only movie of recent memory that captured that same spirit was the recent remake of Walking Tall staring The Rock. No CGI. No crazy stunts. No wires. Just big guys beating the crap out of other big guys.
An alternate ending for Die Hard: http://urkeldieshard.ytmnd.com/ (Need sound on for maximum enjoyment)