Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Good Day to Rage-Watch

Several months ago I gathered with some friends to watch the Blu Ray release of A Good Day to Die Hard. Although the series has had its ups and down, we were all huge fans, and even though we had all read the bad reviews, we dismissed them. 

“Ha!” we said. “Critics don’t know shit about shit. They especially don’t know shit about action movies.” And with that, and a short prayer at the altar to Bruce Willis set up in the foyer, we poured drinks and started the movie.
Less than 45 minutes later I was the first to tap out. I had given the movie time to develop, but it turns out I had only given it enough rope to hang itself. Even worse, the movie hung itself in 15 minutes tops, I just kept poking its gently swinging corpse looking for signs of life.

Finally I couldn’t take any more and I rage-quit the movie. I didn’t just “not like” the movie, I hated it for desecrating one of the (if not The with a capital T) greatest action franchises of all time. I was like Putin watching Pussy Riot play a gig at a church, and I stormed out wanting to throw everyone into a gulag.
Months passed. My anger never subsided.


Die Hard and Die Hard with a Vengeance are action classics. Die Harder and Live Free or Die Hard are good movies. Not great, but good. But this fifth one is actually so egregiously bad that it makes the first four movies worse by association. Ever since I tasted Die Hard 5, my pallet has been soured on the entire franchise. And that, my friends, is quite the accomplishment.

Last week I attempted to bring some closure to this ugly period in my movie watching life. I decided the only way to move on and put this disgrace behind me was to sit down and finish watching it. Maybe by doing that I could work through my issues.

It had not been the first time I turned off a movie in anger and disgust – but this would be the first time I turned ON a movie in anger and disgust. It was the first time I ever rage-watched something.

And I’ve to tell you, I’m so glad I did! Not because I enjoyed the movie by any means – it’s actually worse than I remembered – but because it was a grand new way to watch a film! 

We’ve all played Mystery Science Theater before. For me, it revolutionized the way I watched movies, and made me seek out bad films to watch, just so I could mock them. But a rage-watch is different – it’s like MST only Mike and the Bots have been replaced by Bill Hicks, Eric Cartman, and Don Logan from Sexy Beast.

Instead of being fueled by humor, the rage-watch is fueled by fury and driven by disdain. There is no need to be clever or make jokes, you just squeeze your arm rest a little too hard, let your eyelid twitch a little bit, and every once in a while stand up and unleash a torrent of shocking and horrifying expletives and epithets at the screen.
It’s the sort of thing home theaters were built for!

About the seventh time alpha-stud John McClain shouts “I’m on vacation!” I was ready to drive to Willis’ house and ask him “Since when did McClain become Dante Hicks from Clerks, whining about ‘I’m not even supposed to be here today.” That not being an option, I simply changed my allegiance and started actively rooting for the Russian mob to kill him… and his whole family, too. There’s a much better vacation, a permanent one!

Every time Willis and his son (a tough guy CIA agent named Jack McClain, played by Jai Courtney trying to rekindle that magic Shia LaBeouf had as Indiana Jones Jr.) have a bitter father-son argument in the middle of a fire fight, I let loose my inner fire and started fantasizing about alternate endings. Perhaps Jack McClain would execute his father and join the Mob? Maybe John McClain from Part One would show up in a flying Deloreon and throw this modern-day imposter into a garbage can filled with started-up chainsaws.

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, somehow – like Nature --it found a way. The stupidest thing I’ve seen in any movie since Nuke the Fridge happened, and it sent me into a screaming fit. The good guys and the bad guys are converging on Chernobyl for the final showdown. Pretty radical, right? How can you shoot radiation poisoning? Perhaps I could watch with glee as the McClain family went the way of Spock in Wrath of Kahn (or Kirk in Star Trek Into Darkness, for those of you with a less expansive movie reference database).

The bad guys pull out anti-radiation spray. They spray it around and wa-la! No more radiation.



Oh wait, it’s not Elysium. It’s Die Hard

Just so we’re all clear on the rules: in Die Hard you can use a helicopter as a weapon, you can outrun an explosion, you can shoot a million bullets and never reload. This is fine. But inventing a piece of technology so outlandish it would make the Mission Impossible writing team shake their heads in pity. And that, my friends, is quite the accomplishment.

The only way this movie could have made me any angrier is if Jack McClain was played by Adam Sandler, doing his stupid Waterboy voice the whole time. 

No, wait. That actually would have been an improvement.

When the movie had finished, and I had completed my first rage-watch, my blood pressure was dangerously high. One of my eyeballs had blown out a capillary, and looked all Eye-of-Sauron-ish. My fists had been clenched for so long they refused to unfurl. 

But somehow, through all the madness and misery, I had found a way to laugh again. 

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