Yipee-Ki-Yay: The Die Hard Story So Far

Die Hard

Yippe-ki-yay. Makes you smile doesn’t it? That phrase is almost as iconic as the man who utters it or the movie that it comes from. The Die Hard movies have become as iconic as Lethal Weapon or Beverly Hills Cop for its action, drama, and great quotable lines. One large driving aspect of each franchise is the story. Unlike Lethal Weapon or Beverly Hills Cop, which both have a loose narrative that carries over from film to film, the Die Hard films do not. Does this hinder the franchise?

Each installment in the series is adapted from a different work. The first two films were adapted from novels but novels from different authors and different stories. The original Die Hard, adopted from Roderick Thorp’s 1979 novel Nothing Lasts Forever, holds fairly true to the novel. The biggest change being who McClane visits. In the novel he is going to visit his estranged daughter but in the film he is seeing his estranged wife. The story was adapted faithfully to the screen and tells a great story with a satisfying conclusion. The film, like the book, ends with John and his wife reunited.  When we pick up at the beginning of Die Hard 2, John McClane is at the Washington D.C. airport awaiting the arrival of his wife whom we see seems still very much happy with her husband. John flew on ahead of Holly and dropped the kids at grandma’s house and is now at the airport awaiting his wife to land when the terrorists strike. At the end of this film John and Holly are still very much together and happy.

Now the story falls apart a bit. When we join John McClane in Die Hard with a Vengeance he is back on the force in New York City and is once again estranged from his wife and kids. We are not sure how long exactly but long enough to get himself suspended. This turn of events does not seem to make sense with the events of Die Hard 2 where they were happy and he had transferred to Los Angeles. This could be a product of the script that was written. The script was not originally intended for a Die Hard movie, it was supposed to be its own film entitled Simon Says. It was later adapted to fit the McClane character. So the story with his wife being estranged and not moving back to New York with him could have been manipulated because the script required McClane to be there. The fourth film, Live Free or Die Hard, finds McClane once again a cop in New York City. This time it is told to us that he is divorced now from Holly and his daughter does not want to speak to him. This keeps in line with the third film but still offers no reason for the sudden split after Die Hard 2.

In February 2013 we will see the release of the fifth film, A Good Day to Die Hard. The information on the story thus far has John McClane headed to Russia to help out his son, Jack. At the time of this writing this new installment is not based on any story or novel but an original screenplay. As the series has progressed McClane’s wife has been written out and the tension with his kids has taken center stage. We will see in February if this is for better or for worse.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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  1. BeccaMurphy

    I was certain that these were not adaptations. I am a bit on the fence with the new instalment… John Moore directing? Max Payne, that poor excuse of an adaptation from a really good game.

  2. Taylor Ramsey

    I read 58 Minutes (the one DH2 was based on) and found it very hard to enjoy. Much like the movie for me. I actually like 1 and 4 the best so far.

  3. Starcreeper

    Simon says. Im loved Life Free or Die Hard. It was entertaining and everything that I wanted from the franchise. Ill get tickets for February.

  4. 1, 3, 4, 2, and we’ll pretend 5 didn’t happen. I never thought too much about why he was back in New York in 3, but it’s true there was little explanation outside of John McClane is a bit of an a-hole. It was a great action movie nonetheless.

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