Archives for posts with tag: John McClane

white_house_down

Magic Mike himself, big badass Channing Tatum, stars as a Capitol policeman and would-be Secret Service agent who gets his chance to play at the real thing when he and his daughter (Joey King) tour the White House on precisely the day real-life Obama disser James Woods, the devious head of White House security, plans to stage a coup d’etat to unseat President Django, played by Jamie Foxx.

It is appropriate that the opening credits acknowledge a company called Mythology with this lightweight production, considering how White House Down is nothing if not an encapsulation of liberals’ mythologized view of an idealized President B.O., the scholarly man of peace who could solve all of America’s problems if only given enough cooperation and tax revenue. President Django, suitably enough, makes His first appearance in a three-helicopter formation symbolizing the Trinity of His Godhead.

The film follows the basic template of the Die Hard franchise, with a bloodied, battered Magic Mike, complete with soiled wifebeater and an imperiled loved one among the hostages, jumping, running, and dragging himself through historic bedrooms and the obligatory elevator shaft like a younger, sexier, generally less interesting John McClane.

The action is decent, if unoriginal, though there is an admitted joy to the scene of the mild-mannered, bespectacled President Django getting unchained on the White House lawn and hanging out of the window of His chauffeured car with a rocket launcher. James Woods brings a necessary seriousness to the film, while gorgeously quirky Maggie Gyllenhaal, wasted here in the role of a Secret Service bigwig, is at least enjoyable to ogle.

3.5 of 5 possible stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that White House Down is:

9. Anti-tobacco. President Django is not a smoker.

8. Anti-Christian. Prominently featured terrorist Killick (Kevin Rankin) has a cross tattooed on his chest.

7. Pro-miscegenation. Magic Mike’s daughter has a crush on President Django.

6. Anti-racist (i.e., pro-yawn). Right-wing white nationalists naturally play a part in the coup.

5. Feminist and anti-marriage. Magic Mike’s daughter not only protects the President, but saves the world from nuclear holocaust. Maggie Gyllenhaal is a strong, self-assured, and independent woman with no need of a man. Her ex-husband was an “asshole”.

4. Egalitarian. President Django deploys a folksy anecdote to explain how poverty causes crime.

3. Antiwar. Refreshingly, White House Down vilifies defense contractors and poo-poos the fearmongering about Iran’s nuclear capabilities. Undermining this show of pacifism, however, is the President’s favorable attitude toward drones.

2. Crypto-Zionist. Conspiratorial mastermind Woods is a fanatical neoconservative bent on destroying Iran. White House Down points the finger not at Israel, however – that country receiving mention only as a signatory to a Middle East peace treaty – but at vague “corporations” and a nebulous “military-industrial complex” with which President Django must grapple. In addition, the implosion of the Capitol dome from a fire inside the building corroborates the official story obscuring the implosion of the Twin Towers and WTC 7, thus diverting attention from any possible Israeli involvement in the 9/11 attacks. Magic Mike’s daughter wears a shirt depicting a squid or octopus to show her solidarity with the forces of the New World Order.

1. Statist. A few bad apples may exist, but government, as personified or deified by Lincoln aficionado President Django, generally has America’s best interests at heart. Racist mercenary Killick, in addition to his cross tattoo, sports an anarchist circle-A on one of his arms. Also demonized are anti-government hackers of the Wikileaks and Anonymous varieties.

A good day to die hard poster

The Die Hard franchise, like the James Bond films that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union, comprise a record of Hollywood’s search for the new enemy that would confront the free world or at least provide fear fodder for the moviegoing public.  A product of the years that witnessed the Cold War’s ragged, anticlimactic end, Die Hard points to terrorism and asymmetric conflict as the coming trend, with ostensibly idealistic but actually greedy German terrorists taking hostages in an L.A. high-rise.  Inspired by the Iran-Contra controversy, Die Hard 2 finds a threat in the Cold War residue of the mercenary anticommunist armies created to aid dictators in America’s proxy wars in the Third World, and Die Hard with a Vengeance also features directionless mercenaries as a terrorist danger.  With the rise of the internet, 9/11, the War on Terror, and the domestic police state having intervened in the decade separating the third film from the next installment in the series, the superlative Live Free or Die Hard milks suspenseful chaos from the double-edged sword of the omnipresent cyber-surveillance state, but (like the more recent Skyfall) targets hackers rather than statists as the biggest threat to America.

Now, with its latest entry, A Good Day to Die Hard, the venerable action franchise finally appears to be out of compelling ideas and steam.  Set in Russia, where John McClane (Bruce Willis) hopes to reconcile with his CIA assassin son (Jai Courtney, an uninteresting actor with an unappealing face, inexplicably being pushed in high-profile films), A Good Day to Die Hard is an undisciplined, moody, murky, disorienting, and sometimes boring whirl of mostly meaningless action sequences that sweep McClane into an international espionage imbroglio that neither he nor the audience completely understands.  Apart from the familial drama, this story lacks the immediate stakes of the previous Die Hard films, which find McClane reluctantly playing the hero to protect his fellow citizens; now the character appears content to machine-gun foreigners in their own country and wreak massive havoc on their freeways for a lark and without any insight into what he is doing apart from his hope that it will somehow impress his rogue son and restore their damaged rapport.  Astronomical destruction of property, a genocidal body count, and forced sentimentality ensue, much of it filmed with a shaky, erratic pseudodocumentary headache-inducement approach, with the result that A Good Day to Die Hard is easily the most obnoxious and least worthy of the films to bear the prestigious Die Hard banner – and, if anything, perhaps an unfortunate indicator that it is at last a good day for this series of films to just die.

3 out of 5 stars.  Ideological Content Analysis indicates that A Good Day to Die Hard is:

3. Xenophobic and specifically anti-Russian.  Slavs are secretive, dishonest, violent, eccentric, treacherous, and lust after their parents.

2. Family-ambivalent.  The film celebrates the father-son bond, with McClane regretful of not having played a greater role in his children’s lives.  His marriage to their mother, however, was apparently unsalvageable.

1. Statist and specifically neoconservative.  The Die Hard franchise becomes progressively more accepting of the federal government over the years.  In the first film, representative NYPD and LAPD officers are subject to human frailty and poor judgment, but are also admirable in their toughness and obvious concern for the public.  Their bureaucratic superiors are mostly worthless, however, and the FBI is depicted as incompetent and counterproductive, with one of their snipers a Vietnam veteran and death enthusiast who remembers Saigon fondly.  Bureaucrats and elements of the military are still antagonistic in Die Hard 2, and law enforcement at the local level is the most trustworthy.  This is also the case in Die Hard with a Vengeance, with federal agents depicted as conspiratorial and dopey.

Live Free or Die Hard accepts the posited benevolence of the FBI, but harbors reservations about the competence of newer federal rackets like the Department of Homeland Security.  The principal villain is a former government cyber-security expert run amuck, and the Pentagon is censured as clumsy for underestimating the vulnerability of America’s cyber-infrastructure, but the implication is that more and not less federal might is required.  At the end of that film, McClane is shown wearing an FBI jacket, signifying the oneness of his mission as a police officer with theirs at the national level.

Though the original Die Hard is distinctly Jewish in its perspective, the series has not until now embraced outright neoconservatism.  In A Good Day to Die Hard, McClane at first appears to be skeptical about the usefulness of the spy business, but is quickly persuaded to join the game when he sees what fun it offers with its license to ravage foreign lands with impunity.  The villains here are America’s old enemies, the Russians, still totalitarians at heart (as indicated by the Aeroflot airline’s hammer-and-sickle logo and the “CCCP” tattoo on one brutish thug’s back) and more dangerous than ever since criminal elements among them are peddling those dreaded and demonic “WMDs”, including the material for nuclear bombs.  (The prospective buyers, presumably, are Iran or the highest Islamic jihadist bidder.)  The home defense of previous films is no longer sufficient, and proactive overseas CIA adventurism is now the order of the day.  Early in A Good Day to Die Hard, a framed photograph of Barack Hussein Obama seems to smile on McClane from the wall behind him, bestowing on the loose cannon officer and the film itself a sort of enigmatic blessing (?).

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