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McClane on Location: “Die Hard 5” Means More Frequent Flyer Miles for America’s Favorite Cop

“Well it’s got to go worldwide,” said Bruce Willis to MTV about the very real possibility of a “Die Hard 5”. “That would be my contribution to the next movie.” One assumes he means, “that would be my contribution on top of sweating, bleeding, killing baddies, wisecracking, grimacing, and sweating some more.” But, yes, Mr. Willis is right—after 22 years, four movies, and dozens of perfectly good buildings, vehicles, and people blown to smithereens, America’s favorite crusading New York cop deserves an overseas holiday and, with a look back on the locations the “Die Hard” saga has used before, we’ve got a few modest suggestions.

“Die Hard” (1988) —Fox Plaza, Los Angeles, California
Travel is the underpinning of all the “Die Hard” films. Be it by plane, car, boat, or air duct, John McClane is always moving, always in transit. Director of “Die Hard” John McTiernan established this from the very start by beginning his film, and the McClane cycle, on an airliner. McClane, a reluctant traveler, gets a few pointers on jet lag (“make fists with your toes”) and then heads over to Nakatomi Plaza for a night of cocktails and small arms fire. In reality, the exterior of Nakatomi was The Fox Plaza, the newly completed corporate headquarters of Twentieth Century Fox (who, yes, produced the film), saving the shoot a bundle of cash and establishing the building as one of the more recognizable structures in Century City (it also appears in the stunning final shots of “Fight Club”—another Fox picture—as well).
“Die Hard 2: Die Harder” (1990)—Dulles International Airport, Washington, D.C., Stapleton Airport, Denver, Colorado, and others
Despite the fact that “Die Harder” is supposed to take place within the confines of Washington D.C.’s Dulles Airport’s 11,830 square acres, the filming actually spanned over five states with five airports working together to portray a single location. Remember when professional baddie William Sadler sends a packed 747 to its doom on the tarmac? That was actually in the Mojave Desert. The scenes of gunfire outside the terminals? That was actually Colorado. Perhaps it’s no wonder then that this Renny Harlan directed mess of a sequel was all over the place.
“Die Hard: With a Vengeance” (1995)—New York, New York, Charleston, South Carolina
Not only did the third installment of the franchise mark a return for director John McTiernan, but it also marked a return to form for McClane. With Sam Jackson in tow, our beloved NYPD gumshoe had the run of his home town, tearing up lower Manhattan, Harlem, the Bronx, and bits of Westchester, following Teutonic terrorists all the way to Quebec. Even if you factor in the fact that the massive boat explosion in the final scenes actually took place in Charleston, South Carolina, and various other problems of civic continuity, this is still a New Yorker’s New York movie with images of Gray’s Papaya, the rarely-filmed Financial District and Tompkins Square Park as well as a yellow cab speeding through Central Park—a Manhattanite’s dream come true.
“Live Free or Die Hard” (2007)—105 Freeway, Los Angeles, California
“Underworld” creator Len Wiseman was responsible for this soggy romp up and down the East Coast, and, given Willis’ recent statements, he may unfortunately be at the helm if and when a “Die Hard 5” moves into production. Too bad, because Wiseman does not have an excellent record when it comes to using locations. While this most exaggerated of all the “Die Hard” films takes place in Baltimore, New Jersey, and Washington D.C., those locations only appear in second-unit establishing shots. The rest of the action is leagues away, with downtown L.A. filling in for Camden, New Jersey, Los Angeles’ very, very recognizable 105 Freeway, other highways in and around Hollywood and Pasadena working as Interstate 95, and USC filling in for Rutgers. No wonder we didn’t buy it.
“Die Hard 5″—???
Will it be “Die Hard 5: The Wrath of John”, “Die Hard to the Future”, “Die Hard Forever”? Whatever they call it, we think Mr. McClane deserves a change of pace, and, if Willis’ comments are any indication, he may be enjoying an overseas jaunt. But producers should choose carefully. After all, we can more or less assume McClane is around the same age as Willis (55) and, as of the forth film, had been on the force for over 30 years. Add to that the fact that he’s been punched, stabbed, kicked, tortured, and shot more times than Rasputin, and you’ve got a guy who’d probably be more comfortable in a poolside chez lounge with a reservation for the hotel’s early bird special than a night out in Paris.  
Not only would a trip on, say, a Carnival Cruise Line ship offer an aging McClane a place to bond with his daughter, water slides, and the surf-and-turf platters a near-retirement beat cop might enjoy, but a terrorist takeover would create a plot structure similar to the tense, tight 1985 original. Then again, when was the last time John McClane delved into his spiritual side? Past his mid-life point, perhaps he’d do well seeking internal fulfillment while dodging bullets in India’s holy Varanasi. But middle age is also a time to explore your roots. An Irishman by descent and a vocal fan of whiskey, Johnny might enjoy a sojourn to his Motherland, Ireland, with a quick stop in Belfast to stop ex-IRA commandos from ransoming the Vice President for stolen military microprocessors. Perhaps, more than anything, though, this guy needs a white-sand beach, a fruity cocktail, and sun. After 22 years of entertaining us through pain, slaughter, and bon mots, McClane deserves a nice long weekend hunting Neo-Fascist money launderers in Tahiti, don’t you think?
For a world of prime vacation spots and movie locations, pick up a copy of our “Film + Travel” series today.
All “Die Hard” film images courtesy of Twentieth Century-Fox.

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