AMMO CLIP: The Die Hard Syndrome

By Dr. Know on September 29th, 2012

When Die Hard burst onto the scene in the summer of 1988, not only was it the shot in the arm the action genre needed (especially with the whole buddy/cop thing already showing signs of wear and tear) but it also unintentionally created a template that was copied by several action movies in its wake.

Most of you, I’m sure, are well acquainted with the formula: the lone, unassuming hero (or so it seems in the case of the clones) is trapped in a confined setting when a band of terrorists seize control of said environment to hold the location and hostages for what seems like ransom. In actuality, however, our bad guys usually have another agenda. With that, various forms of law enforcement try to negotiate, all the while our hero (the one thing the villains didn’t count on) is outgunned and outnumbered while trying to save the day.

Pretty much every big action movie spec sale back in the day was described as a “Die Hard in-a” or “Die Hard-on-a” scenario; Under Siege= Die Hard on a battleship; Air Force One= Die Hard on Air Force One; Sudden Death= Die Hard in a hockey arena; Con Air= Die Hard on a prisoner transport plane. The Rock; Die Hard on Alcatraz.

The trend was so out of control at one point that even Joss Whedon, writer/director of The Avengers, penned one called Suspension long before he got back with Buffy the Vampire Slayer on TV. The logline: Die Hard on the George Washington Bridge in New York. Peter Hyams, director of Sudden Death, was even in line to direct at one point, but for various reasons the script remains unproduced to this day.

Fear not, if you’re a fan of the formula like me, the trend may be coming back; Sony currently has the Roland Emmerich-directed White House Down in production starring Channing Tatum. What’s more, Gerard Butler is currently shooting Olympus Has Fallen, which is being directed by Antoine Fuqua. Both actors are playing Secret Service Agents trying to save the President when the White House is taken over. Yes, it’s Die Hard in the White House. Both are scheduled for release next year but not before A Good Day to Die Hard, the fifth entry in the original landmark franchise, hits theaters with Bruce Willis reprising his hallmark role as John McClane.

If all three actioners rake in some decent green, expect the trend to return…With a Vengeance. Perhaps Joss Whedon, now with ton of street cred thanks to The Avengers and his overall deal with Marvel, may return to his unproduced spec.

Probably not, but fanboys can hope, right?