Dear Len Wiseman…
I'm going to do my best to avoid making the obvious joke here about your last name, since my last name is McWeeny, and nothing good can come from that particular war.
However, I would like to drop you a few quick thoughts regarding your proposed pre-boot (part prequel, part reboot) of the “Die Hard” series before you go too far down a road that dead ends in Stupid Town.
Obviously, I have not been in any of the conversations you're having about the film. Maybe the folks over at Deadline completely screwed up the reportage on the idea that you have. I certainly hope so, because if not, you are on the verge of doing something monumentally dumb, and I'd love to explain why.
There is only one great “Die Hard” movie. Unfortunately, you did not direct it.
Maybe you had a great time working with Bruce Willis. Maybe he had a great time working with you. Maybe the two of you have decided you want to make films together over and over and over. You want to make another entirely average “Die Hard” film with Bruce? Go for it. You can't ruin the series, after all.
Just this week, Fox sent over a Blu-ray collection of all five of the films in what may be the nicest Blu-ray packaging I've ever seen…
… and at some point, I imagine my kids are going to want to wade through all of the sequels. There's only one sequel I like at all, and it's McTiernan's “Die Hard With A Vengeance.” While it's not a great film, it at least makes sense. After all, the entire idea behind “Die Hard” was that John McClane happened to end up in the wrong place at the right time. When “Die Hard 2” had to engineer the exact same set-up for the second film, it felt like a big fat load of nonsense. The notion of someone looking for payback for the events of the first film made the third movie feel like a real sequel, and I thought it was largely successful at what it tried to do, even though it was reverse-engineered from a script that had nothing to do with “Die Hard” at first.
Now, according to reports, you're making a sixth film with producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura, and you're supposedly looking for a screenwriter. I hope that each and every screenwriter who walks into the room tells you what I'm about to tell you, because if people actually come in and fight to get this job, it will depress me so much I may not survive.
Making a prequel to “Die Hard” is a very dumb idea.
I get the logistics. After all, if you can successfully recast John McClane as a guy in his 20s, then you get to make more movies that make no sense at all for a few more decades. The idea, as described in the report, is that you'd tell a story set in 1979 in which McClane goes from being a regular cop to being… and I quote… “a die hard kind of guy.”
See, here's the problem. “Die Hard” is the story of John McClane going from being a regular cop to being a die hard kind of guy. That is literally the entire point of the movie. Regular cop. Wrong place. Right time. Sure, these days he's a superhero who can survive a nuclear blast at ground zero or jump onto the wing of a Harrier jet, but in “Die Hard,” he's just a guy struggling to hold his marriage together.
The truly hilarious part of all of this is that “Die Hard” was loosely adapted from a novel called “Nothing Lasts Forever.” That was a sequel to a novel called “The Detective” by Roderick Thorp, which was made into a 1968 film starring Frank Sinatra as Joe Leland. So technically, I guess there is a prequel out there ready for you, only it wouldn't really work because of how much they changed to make “Die Hard” in the first place.”
So please, Len… can I call you Len? Please, don't do the pre-boot. If you really have to make another one, just let Bruce run around while shit blows up again. I know our pop culture right now seems to be entirely geared around the idea of over-explaining everything, but the last thing anyone needs is John McClane, beat cop.
Do better. I'm begging you.