Die Hardest: The Sequel We Deserve
Merry Christmas 2020.
I'm tired of surface level sequels. A story, held together with popsicle sticks, does little to satisfy existing fans or bring in new ones. Audiences will forgive a lackluster plot if the story and characters are interesting. In the last decade we've seen long lost franchises be brought to life by new iterations. We've also seen them ignored by existing fan bases when they were clearly created just to pay an aging star and a movie studio.
Pat Sajak may like those sequels, but I do not.
It seems the winning formula is familiarity with a dusting of nostalgia and unexpected emotionality. Those three things are what made Cobra Kai, Bad Boys For Life, and even Toy Story 4 a critical hit and with high audience scores.
This is my take on what a fulfilling and satisfying conclusion to the Die-Hard franchise should look like. One that honors Bruce Willis, his character, career, and reminds fans why they love this iconic story should look like.
Never Stop Dying Hard
(Concept and extended summary)
Its official. After a 30+ year career in law enforcement, Detective John McClane has retired. Hanging up his gun and shield have been long overdue. After relocating to Los Angeles to be closer to his family, his daughter Lucy throws him a surprise retirement party. Former colleagues, friends, Alan, and even Argyle make an appearance to congratulate and wish him well in his new life chapter.
It doesn’t take long for John to find himself slipping into a quieter routine than he’s comfortable with. He’s a fish out of water as he picks up his grandkids, Henry and Becca from the school carpool lane. He often disagrees with parenting decisions and regularly argues with modern technology. The occasional hiccup has him reluctantly accepting his newly assigned civilian status.
An altercation at a Clippers’ game reminds him that he is no longer on the badge wearing officer team despite what his instincts tell him. Nor are his instincts warmly received by the unfamiliar police department who sees a retiree trying to tell them how to do their job.
As this identity crisis grows, he finds himself struggling to feel purposeful. He has routine visits to a counselor following his retirement to discuss job related anxieties and his transition to civilian life. He even drives by Nakatomi Tower to reflect on his illustrious career, the decisions he made, the regrets he has, and how to move forward.
Witnessing his struggle with retirement, Lucy and her husband Matt, invite John to join them for Christmas at a resort in the Rockies. Her company is hosting a holiday retreat as way to celebrate a successful year at an exclusive winter resort. With coaxing from his counselor, his grandchildren, and his daughter, John reluctantly agrees to join them.
On the morning of Christmas Eve, he and his 10-year-old grandson, Henry, take a plane to meet the rest of the family at the resort. John, offers advice to his grandson when he notices Henry's about flying. During their flight, Henry asks John about his experiences as a police officer. Whether or not he ever thought about what he’s done and if he feels bad about killing anyone. He also asks if he regrets getting a divorce from his grandmother. Dodging the question before landing, John gifts his grandson a pocket-knife he smuggled onto the plane.
The plane touches down as snow begins to fall. John discovers his bag had been misplaced by the airline. While he argues with the TSA employee, Henry points out the driver waiting for them. Henry and John greet the driver and follow him to the limousine. Henry is marveling at luxuries in the limo.
"Grandpa, have you been in a limo before?"
"Not in a long time," John replies.
When they arrive, both are stunned by how much of a winter wonderland it looks. The long drive through the rural mountains brought them to one of the newest resorts the Rockies have to offer. “The North Pole” as John puts it. Smiling faces, colorful vests, and wealthy people scurry about. The resort is larger than expected and far less quiet than promised. Under the impression that the event was much smaller, John groans to Henry who explains what his mom does for a living. John likens bitcoins to those Super Mario collects.
While waiting in the lobby, John is informed that the airline has located his bag. It's being sent to the resort later in the day. John reminds his grandson Henry to keep the pocket knife a secret. Greeted by Lucy, Matt, and Becca; John is embraced by his granddaughter. Matt and John exchange sarcastic banter. Lucy encourages John to talk with the manager, Jacques, at the front desk to support in retrieving his bag.
Though the primary entrance of the resort is bustling, John and his family have an adjacent resort cabin where it remains much quieter. John is reminded of his place on the economic ladder with the affluence of the resort and the people who are there. The resort, notorious for bad service, is miles away from the nearest town. Much of the tourist community was still being built. Developers were hoping to cash in once the new resort took off.
Rocco, an overzealous co-worker of Lucy's, forces his way into an introduction with her dad. Knowing the stories about John, Rocco over-questions him about his career. At the end of their conversation, John wishes him "Merry Christmas." He's swiftly corrected to say "Happy Holidays."
John and his family participate in all of the winter activities imaginable. They smile, laugh, and gleeful enjoy each other's Christmas company. The sun starts to set and the resort quiets down. Despite families being invited, Becca and Henry were the only kids at the resort. A perk that Lucy was granted because of her contributions to the recent deal.
Lucy’s company has been working on mainstreaming cryptocurrency transactions internationally. They have successfully contracted an agreement to work as an in-between for banks and bitcoin miners. These recent business move has given them access to some of the largest international sums of money... and you guessed it, bad guys want it.
With incoming snowfall, the staff closed the slopes and turned in for the night. The 40 or so families gathered for dinner in the banquet room. Conversations with mouths full, clanging of plates, chiming of silverware and laughter filled the room. John is informed his bag has been delivered to their cabin. Lucy outlines the rest of the evening which includes a request by Becca for a reenactment of a Christmas Carol.
Matt and John engage in more sarcastic banter. John check's for the time and realizes he left his watch in his ski locker. He leaves dinner early and agreed to meet his family back in the cabin. After John leaves, Lucy notices a heated exchange between her boss and an unfamiliar individual. Growing alarmed, she notices the server's nametag "Jacques" but it wasn't the manager from earlier in the day.
John arrives at the oddly quiet Ski lodge to find it empty. He calls out to see if anyone was there but no one answered. He ringed the bell for assistance but no one came. He strolls back to the quiet locker room.
The mess hall is still filled with coworkers eating to their hearts content. Lucy requests that Matt bring the kids back to the cabin. She unlocks her phone but is unable to make a call or get online. Matt tries as well and believes they are deliberately being denied. The two begin to grow anxious and panicked. They calmly stand and make their way to the lobby.
John finds his watch sitting in the locker. He smiles as he straps it to his wrist. While walking out he now notices someone at the front desk. John greets them as he leaves but something felt off. They didn't question him, tell him to leave, or make any vocal recognition. He walks back inside an asks about what type of ice skates he should get his daughter.
Stopped before getting to the lobby, a very tall and stoic individual intercepts Lucy, Matt, and the kids. Gun fire sounds in the mess hall. A commanding voice roars over the screams to get everyone's attention.
John didn't get a response. He charismatically explained why he needed to get the skates and how he and his ex-wife disagree about the activities the kids played. The employee abruptly reaches for a rifle and a physical confrontation begins. After an extended fight, the gun breaks and ultimately ends with John killing them with the blade of an ice skate.
After a dramatic journey, John eventually makes his way to his cabin. He opens his recently dropped off duffle bag and frantically takes out the wrapped presents. At the bottom of the duffle, John pulls out what appears to be a toiletry bag. He unzips it and grabs his Beretta 92FS with two clips of ammo.
Never Stop Dying Hard begins...
Sound familiar? It's suppose to. Audiences don't need to be wowed by the intricacies of a new story. In fact, it seems that deviating from the expected, the formula, or pissing off the internet will doom your movie. Hello modern Star Wars films.
The Force Awakens is literally a summary of the original franchise except it features a multi-ethnic cast. Instead of the the Death Star they have... the STARKILLER BASE. Really? From Death Star to Star Killer? Welp, it made a billion dollars.
Never Stop Dying Hard: Die Hardest is my attempt at providing a foundation for a final film in one of my favorite franchises. It also ignores A Good Day To Die Hard... because it should.
In the event any Hollywood executive would like to use my extended summary and concept, let me know. We can work something out. I have student loans that are waiting to be forgiven.
I'm currently working on a full treatment and screenplay for this sequel. It will include and answers the following:
A cameo with Samuel L. Jackson's Zeus
Where is Holly Gennaro?
An epic Yippy Kai Yay moment
Far more detail about the plot, the kill count, and Die Hard Easter eggs
Ridiculous quotes like this: "I hear it from my son-in-law, White Savior, yada yada. I get it, but bad guys still need to die. Whether its me shooting a gun, pushing you out a window, or beating you to death. This story ends one way. I don't care what you look like. White guy, black guy, red fish blue fish. You hurt my family, you have a death wish. Sorry, I've been reading a lot of Doctor Seuss lately."
Stay tuned. But for the time being, watch this...