Thursday, February 19, 2015
Return journey to and from the old and new Cold War
WILLIS – DIE HARD – 1988
Do not expect a film that is going to
revolutionize your ideology, your spirituality, your religion, or even your
political beliefs. It is an action film that is supposed to entertain you and
nothing else, and yet…
It starts with some nice Christmas party in some
high rise office block in some international super capitalistic business if not
corporation. The poor John McLane is coming to Los Angeles
from New York
to visit his children and wife he has been estranged from for some months with
three thousand miles between their two places of residence.
The whole tower block is taken over by some
German terrorists just after John McLane has arrived and the whole film will be
his action in order to get rid of the terrorists, to save the hostages and to
save his own wife.
The film shows how rotten some apples in the
basket can be. Even one is able to sell his own colleagues to get a coke in a
glass, hardly more. In fact he won’t even be able to drink it because once he
has given some leverage to the terrorists they just thank him for the rest of
his eternal life.
But what’s best in this film is the action and
the visual effects. No digitalized special effects and it looks real, rough,
hard. The very good final product is reached thanks to the editing of the film.
It makes it so fast that it becomes breath-taking and at times it is hilarious
because some of the situations look so hectic, so extreme, and yet they are
nothing but an illusion and it is enjoyable.
It is also enjoyable to see LAPD officers,
inspectors or whatever they may call them down there being smashed up, the FBI
being fooled and ridiculed, the media being unworthy of any trust, and only two
little black men coming on top, a plain motorized street cop who manages to
raise the alarm and a little black limousine chauffeur who manages to block the
escape of the last terrorists. That makes you feel happy and warm in the heart.
The little ones are the heroes of the film.
WILLIS – DIE HARD 2 – 1990
Christmas eve again with John McClane, this time
on Dulles airport in Washington
DC. This time John McClane is
waiting for the arrival of his wife on a plane. But of course everything went
wrong, which was to be expected.
The airport was taken over by a band of
terrorists who tried to recuperate and liberate a general who had been
convicted of some anti-communist crime or something. That is not entirely clear
and that does not matter. Of course these terrorists could not succeed in their
plan if they did not have come accomplices in the airport and in the armed
forces brought in to deal with the situation.
But John McClane is the savior of the day, which
is normal on Christmas eve. John once again managed to stop the apocalypse he
could not really prevent since he was surprised in it himself, but he also
managed to get rid of the beast, the dragon and Babylon at the same time: the liberated
general, the chief of the terrorists and the military traitor.
Apart from that the rhythm is quite diabolical,
though they kept the panic for the very end. People in that airport were so
patient, so enduring, so smiling silent when something was obviously wrong.
Thanks to a journalist the bad news was finally aired and the panic could come.
We are not told how many casualties.
Pure entertainment based on a very fast rhythm
and some kind of humor that is always targeting some kind of officials or
uniformed commissioned puppets and generally below the waist if not below the
knees, low, low, low anyway. I personally missed one thing: the old church that
was to be blown up with tons of plastic of something like that. It did not blow
up. Too bad.
BRUCE WILLIS – DIE HARD
WITH A VENGEANCE – 1995
We finally move to New York and out of the Yule season. It is
still dealing with the Germans we have been dealing with before, that kind of
German army trying to conquer the world, or at least some kind of back base for
their criminal activities.
It starts like a game and then becomes very
bitter and it becomes a real war time operation targeting Fort Knox
and their reserves of gold, hundreds of billions of dollars in gold bullions.
To get down there without attracting too much attention is a little bit
difficult so you have to have one massive explosion that opens the street down
to the underground vault.
The rest after that is nothing. John McLane gets
some black innocent and neutral partner at the beginning of the game and they
will become a good pair of gamesters in full addiction till the real end and
finish of the hunt, chase and tracking search. It sure is more suspenseful than
the Football Super Bowl. It is also quite spectacular about the damage caused
to the urban environment. Crossing Central Park
with a car in something like ten minutes at a peak hour late in the morning is
Of course we know the gangsters will be
defeated, the main leader who is the brother of a previous gang leader who was
defeated and killed by John McLane, will die defeated and beaten into pureed
smithereens. The whole interest of this film is to see how and here there is
some inventiveness more than creativity on the side of the plot-writers and
In this film some digital visual effects (hello Buena Vista) are used and that make the film slightly
less rough because digital special effects are smoother, more easy-going, more
fluid than standard old fashioned analog special effects. But we are used to
that nowadays though it makes the film less impressive.
Just for entertainment of course. This film will
not give you some intellectual overload, though with too many of these you
might get into some apnea, the suspension of your breathing that could be
lethal, due to the lack of cerebral activity.
Enjoy the spiritual and mental relaxation.
BRUCE WILLIS – LIVE FREE
OR DIE HARD – 2007
We finally had to come to the modern world and
computers. This film is so frightening for simple people that it should create
a real panic among them. It deals with all the central networks created by our
modern society to control govern and command absolutely everything that can be
set in some kind of network. The big fear is that when all networks are
synchronized and connected one person from one keyboard and central computer
will be able to control absolutely everything in life and society. Everyone
knows about it. Check Terminator for that.
they even have some higher education professor, Marcel Gauchet, who explains
that in such a society we just need to blow up or paralyze the nodal points of
these systems to bring a society to a stand still and thus impose a revolution.
No one has been able to find out if that man is using this idea as a menace
against society or as a warning to society. Some of his students were even investigated
some years ago as having played a role in such an attack on the fast train
network in France
But this fear is also lined with another which
is a lot older: the fear of machines per se. People are afraid of machines
though they use machines everyday, like cars and other means of transportation.
Computers are even more frightening than a crashing airplane because all we see
on the screen is a whole lot of figures, in fact digits, and we cannot
understand what the machine is saying, and it is always saying a lot. We have
always been afraid of foreign languages, and computers speak a foreign
The third level of fear you can find in our
world is the fact that after 9/11 we have put all our valuable data on central
computers that are supposed to be hyper protected and they are. The film
demonstrates that they cannot be reached from the outside by hackers but can
only be reached from the inside that is to say from these giant central
computers themselves because they are absolutely isolated from the outside
world and their connection with this outside world is absolutely under
digitalized secure surveillance. So the hackers who want to prove the
vulnerability of that central computer has to penetrate the fort in which it is
located. Only a military operation can do that, but that operation is just
plainly unimaginable. The human guards can be killed but they can be so
connected to the central security that the alert is given as soon as some
sensor senses the attack on the body or mind of the guard and then instead of
sending two guards as reinforcement a security wall can fall down that can only
be opened from the inside.
The system that is shown here, for our
entertainment for sure, is super fragile and super UN-protected. It is less
protected than a henhouse against foxes. It is as little protected against the
infiltration of terrorists as a sieve is ready to retain water. So that makes
the fear ludicrous and the entertainment loses all suspense value and all
Of course John McClane has to have a partner and
this time it is a young hacker that the terrorists want to kill and that the
FBI wants to interrogate. He becomes the digital mind of McClane and McClane is
nothing but the brute force, the basic muscle of the operation. The two
together are funny in a way since they are so different and one could be the
father of the other.
But the film is funny though the digital special
effects are so visibly artificial, not even analogue, that they become
cinematographic anecdotes. I think these action films have lost something g
with the massive shift to digital special effects. They just look unreal and
what’s more we recognize the special effect maker and then we recognize a
special effect we have already seen in some other films. We may even wonder if
they are after all not plainly the same.
BRUCE WILLIS – A GOOD
DAY TO DIE HARD – 2013
After the daughter endangered in the previous
and fourth installment of Die Hard, now in the fifth installment we get the
son, John McLane Jr., who is the partner of his own father as a CIA agent in Moscow. We had to fall,
sooner or later, in the anti-Russian cold war atmosphere. I am afraid though Bourne
and Taken do that type of action film a little bit better. Here it is too
gross, too thick, too much deconstruction and not enough subtlety.
The two McLanes find themselves on the same
mission but from two different agencies, one CIA and the other NYPD, or is it
FBI? They have to recuperate a political prisoner who is going to be tried in Moscow for some unclear
reason. We all know Russia
is a dictatorship. That type of cliché is slightly too schematic to be believable.
But it is a lot worse than that. The two American agencies were completely
fooled if not bamboozled. The political prisoner is a personal friend of the president
follow my eyes and read my lips. But he is using both the Americans and the
Russian security services to have the president assassinated and to take over.
His daughter is the main in-between triple agent
and she succeeds perfectly well. The two McLanes are just following the trend
and get completely ridiculed and nearly killed. But they manage to get to the
secret abandoned nuclear facility, probably Chernobyl
which is not in Russia but
but who cares about the place and name. From Moscow to that place anyway it takes about thirty
seconds on the screen, in real time about a couple of hours. Distances are not
There they find the dear father who is
pretending to be very sick though he has killed with his daughter quite a few
of the Russian secret agents. The supposed report hidden in this place does not
exist and then the mission is reduced to killing the triple agents, destroying
a helicopter, etc. They do this is in a jiffy and they survive all the mayhem
with hardly a scratch. They get out of Russia with no problem whatsoever
and they arrive in some American airport where the daughter McLane is waiting
for them. We just wonder why they bothered to get involved in what was a purely
Russian domestic political game. I guess American security agencies are no longer
what they used to be.
Let’s hope there will not be a sequel to that. We
have reached the third underground level under well devised action films. Let’s
say they were part of the anti-Russian campaign for the Olympic Games. Viva la new
era Cold War! I am sure Ron L. Hubbard must be turning in his tomb in total