Fifth “Die Hard” might have a title, but Bruce Willis should play McClane in a prequel

By Sean O’Connell Is the next “Die Hard” going to be set in a convenience store?

Take this with a grain of salt, of course, because a fifth “Die Hard” installment hasn’t even been officially announced, even though franchise star Bruce Willis has said in interviews he’d be willing to do another run as indestructible police officer John McClane. He even posited that after the Internet terrorism of “Live Free or Die Hard” (which is much better than most people give it credit for), he’d like to see McClane tackle evil on a global scale.

So when Harry Knowles at Ain’t It Cool News posts that the rumored title of a fifth “Die Hard” will be “Die Hard 24/7,” it sets the brain’s wheels a’turnin’.

The title is generic enough to be about anything. And at this point, do we really care? Fans of the series will be happy to see Willis’ wise-cracking cop in just about any adventure. So long as he isn’t filling water jugs to place on a scale in Central Park. Man, that movie was dumb.

In all seriousness, I am a huge fan of the “Die Hard” franchise. To know me is to know that the first “Die Hard” is my favorite film of all time. When asked (as critics often are) what our most beloved film is, I always reply “Die Hard.” For me, it’s movie perfection, which has as much to do with the film’s quality as it does with where I was as a fledgling movie geek when I saw it in a theater in 1988.

I think the Dulles-set sequel is equally fantastic, because Willis still remembered how to play McClane. I thought the character’s hangover — and a convoluted script — hampered the third “Die Hard,” spoiling director John McTiernan’s return to a story he helped launch.

And I’m on record as saying Len Wiseman got very close to the “Die Hard” roots with “Live Free,” particularly in the first hour. By the end, when McClane is surfing on the wings of jets, he lost even the most die-hard “Die Hard” fans. But it was good enough to restore faith in the franchise.

Now, in a perfect world, the next “Die Hard” film would adapt Howard Chaykin’s “Die Hard: Year One” graphic novels, the ones that flashback to McClane’s early days walking the beat as a member of the NYPD. And in a storke of genius, Willis could play young McClane.

Wait, what?

Sure. Get this. In an “Avatar” interview conducted last year, effects guru James Cameron said the mo-cap technology used to create the N’avi was so advanced, it could be used is ways filmmakers weren’t even imagining. I’m paraphrasing, but he said if Clint Eastwood wanted to do another “Dirty Harry” film and look like he did in “Magnum Force,” it would be possible.

Couldn’t Willis do the same? Wouldn’t that let him play a young John McClane? He still has the attitude, the devil-may-care sarcasm, the monkey-in-the-wrench know-how to play the character. And that stuff can’t be taught. I’d like to see how it looks, to see if Cameron is correct. It would be a risk, but one with serious potential for a massive reward.

Of course, no studio will go for it. But I’d rather see that than “Die Hard 24/7” … whatever that may be.

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