Tuesday, April 24, 2007
There's a new Live Free Or Die Hard trailer. Obviously, this is exciting, if not exactly breaking, news. This trailer is longer and more detailed than the first. The first trailer, more of a teaser really, was brief and virtually free of dialogue. It dwelled on car chases and showed glimpses of gun- and fistfights.
The new trailer opens with Timothy Olyphant ominously declaring that he's "doing America a favor" that it may not fully appreciate. There’s greater emphasis in this preview on things being hurtled through space. Both cars and people get flung around, either by collision, force of explosion or makeshift catapult.
The new trailer also hints at an extended Raider of the Lost Ark reference. Piecing together interspersed scenes, it looks like there's a section of the movie where John McClane gets on top of a tractor-trailer while it's moving; then he shimmies across the side exterior of the truck, while it's moving; when he reaches the cab he throws the driver out and takes control of the truck; and it looks like he's also being chased by a fighter jet after taking over the semi, which tries to stop him by shooting out the supports of an overpass and bringing the highway crashing down on the truck. This is, of course, speculative, but it sounds totally ridiculous.
I was a little disappointed by the idea of a jet plane chasing McClane's semi around, but then I considered the example of The French Connection. That movie established something important, and largely ignored, about car chases. What it taught us is that a car chasing other cars is kind-of boring. Cars are relatively evenly matched, and they generally are faced with the same obstacles (traffic, pedestrians, etc). The genius innovation of The French Connection, though, is that it involves a car chasing something that totally outmatches it and faces none of its obstacles: an elevated train. This gives the chase an extra measure of desperate urgency, and even terror in the moments where "Popeye" Doyle nearly kills himself or others because he is driving so recklessly (as one must to keep up with a train).
It looks like Live Free Or Die Hard incorporates and reverses this lesson. How will John McClane escape a fighter jet, which not only outmatches a semi but also is armed? As absurd as this scenario is, it is true to the spirit of Die Hard. It puts McClane in an impossible situation, one where sheer force will not be enough to save him; he'll have to use his wits and environment to his advantage, too. The problem, of course, is that being outnumbered and outgunned while confined to an office building or airport is somewhat more relatable, to the extent that the spirit of Die Hard is also that John McClane is recognizable as a sort-of regular person.