A few days ago, Movies In Focus tweeted that 1990’s Die Hard 2 (aka Die Hard 2: Die Harder) was the second best Die Hard movie after John McTiernan’s 1988 original. That tweet was seen by Steven E. de Souza, the screenwriter who co-wrote the first two films in the Die Hard franchise.
De Souza not only retweeted it but he responded, going on to succinctly distill what makes a true Die Hard movie, explaining why the first two Bruce Willis films work better than their sequels. In just a few words he also explains why the they have more emotional purchase than the many franchise clones that we’ve seen over the years (like Under Siege and Air Force One).
Interestingly, De Souza also explains why Die Hard has its roots in Gary Cooper’s classic western, High Noon – a film which is name-checked in the original 1988 film. It’s fascinating stuff – and the brevity of his phrasing also illustrates why he’s such a good writer.
This is what Steven E. de Souza had to say..
Only the first two had the elements that IMHO make it a true #DieHard; a scenario unfolding in hours, not days; a loved one in jeopardy; a single location the unprepared & overwhelmed hero cannot leave; and finally, both the villains & the establishment figures oppose him.
None of #DieHard’s sequels & few of its clones had all those elements: Under Siege had a highly trained Navy Seal hero, not an ordinary cop, no loved one in danger or establishment opposition; Air Force One a war hero protagonist & total establishment support.