Bruce Willis returns to our screens this week with his fifth outing as NYPD detective John McClane in A Good Day to Die Hard. Since the third film, Die Hard with a Vengeance, the series has gradually gravitated away from the singular premise of the first two films.
Initially, McClane had to stop the bad guys in a (relatively) fixed location in order to save his wife, but is now faced with scenarios that are often more ambitious (as with the third and fourth films), though if the early reviews for the fifth film are to be believed, occasionally more generic also.
Nevertheless, whether he wants to admit it or not, Willis has spent the bulk of his career playing John McClane; for every head-turning performance in the likes of Pulp Fiction and Looper, he’s got a couple of “grizzled cop/cabbie takes down bad guys against the odds” roles to his name.
Basically, a large number of his films could easily have been repurposed as Die Hard sequels, and though we’re mostly glad they weren’t – some of these films are atrocious – it surely would have made sense in the head of a greedy studio exec. Others, such as his more outlandish genre works, are simply fun to imagine as fantastical franchise spin-offs (a Die Hard/Looper cross-over, anyone?)
If a family member gets kidnapped, if Willis has to team with a black partner, if he has to spend the whole film babysitting someone, or if he spends most of the film wise-cracking, then it’s easy to see how the line might get blurred between Die Hard and everything else, especially at this stage in the game.
Here are 10 Bruce Willis movies that were basically Die Hard sequels (some more plausibly than others)…
10. The Last Boy Scout (Die Hard…And Then Some)
Definitely one of the stronger non-McClane outings in Bruce Willis’ repertoire, Shane Black’s hilarious script for The Last Boy Scout combines with Tony Scott’s lively direction to make this a cult classic of the buddy cop genre, which surely would have been called Die Hard…And Then Some.
The film sees Willis play Joe Hallenbeck, a former Secret Service agent who was forced out in disgrace and now makes a living as a private eye. As you’ll be hearing a few times in this list, his marital situation isn’t great; his wife cheats on him (only to get his attention), and perfectly in step with alcoholic Die Hard with a Vengeance McClane, he doesn’t give a s**t.
After his wife’s lover Mike Matthews (Bruce McGill) is killed in a car explosion, Joe has to try and clear his own name before it’s too late, enlisting the help of disgraced L.A. Stallions star quarterback James “Jimmy” Alexander Dix (Damon Wayans).
The result is pure, brutal, vulgar movie magic; dripping in dark humour, fun action, and one of Willis’ best performances, this would have slotted effortlessly into the Die Hard saga.
We are currently seeking Film contributors on WhatCulture. To find out more about the perks of being a Film contributor, click here.