Versus: Lethal Weapon vs Die Hard – By Xtra Butter

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I was in a coffee shop the other day when I overheard two guys talking about who was/is a better basketball player, Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant? Usually I can’t stand these types of open-ended questions because there is no one right answer (Except in the above case it’s Michael Jordan). People can argue back and forth for hours and not even realize that it is an opinion based answer with no true factual answer. It’s merely up to the individual to make a personal choice on who they think is better, and seldom can you ever change someone’s mind or their answer because it’s their opinion and that just the way it is. But then it got me thinking, this would actually be a fun way to debate film on RollinSD.

What is the best movie all time? Who is the best director of all time? Who is the best actor of all time? Etc. These are just a few examples of the types of questions that can stir-up a great discussion on RollinSD and get you more involved with my opinions in film. However, a simple question about “who is the best” would not really get a great debate going. A better technique would be for me to compare two films, or two actors, or two directors and let us decide on “who is better between the two.” So I present my first round of “Versus.”

It’s simple; I take two things in film and compare them to one another. I will give you my opinion and you will chime in with yours, if you so choose. In the end a winner will be declared based on how many votes it receives during the course it takes me to submit my next posting (usually a week). Since we don’t have a click style voting system in place as of yet, I will just count the total comments below the posting to determine who is the victor. So be sure to leave a comment with your selection and a few words. Remember there is no right and wrong answers here just opinions so have fun with it.

First up for debate are two action franchises that were created in the 80’s. In one corner you have Detective Martin Riggs and his partner Detective Roger Murtaugh, and in the other corner you have Detective John McClane. That’s right ladies and gentlemen we are going to compare the marquee action film franchises of Lethal Weapon and Die Hard. Enjoy!

A quick look at their release dates:

Lethal Weapon (1987)

Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)

Lethal Weapon 3 (1992)

Lethal Weapon 4 (1998)

Die Hard (1988)

Die Hard 2: Die Harder (1990)

Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995)

Live Free or Die Hard (2007)

**To avoid any confusion, I want to remind you that in this first round of “Versus” it is not one movie versus one movie, but the entire film franchise versus the other. So keep that in mind when you make your decision. **

Lethal Weapon is a buddy cop film about two partners fighting organized crime in the city of Los Angeles. On the other hand, Die Hard revolves around one cop that always finds himself in the wrong place at the right time. Both film franchises are labeled as cop/crime action adventures, both have released four films to their credit, both were produced by Hollywood legendary producer Joel Silver (Matrix and Predator), and both franchises are known to be action packed with witty banter and funny moments. Is one franchise funnier than the other? Not necessarily, and I would go out on a limb here and say the two franchises tie in this category. Does one have more action than the other? Again I would have to call this one a tie because both stories offer plenty of action. Well what does that leave? I’ll tell you…

Story. It breaks down to the storylines behind the movies that clearly defines Lethal Weapon as the close, but superior film franchise for me. Just follow me here for a minute.

In Lethal Weapon the writers were clever in aging the characters and having them come full circle with their lives. All the characters involved in the Lethal Weapon series were carefully crafted and added depth to an already great story. Mel Gibson’s character goes from this suicidal cop with a death wish to a mirror image of his older partner by the final film. Danny Glover’s character realizes he is “not too old for this shit” and sees his true passion is being a cop by the final film. Yet, in the end of the story they both come to terms with their aging selves and realize their reign as the toughest cops in the department may be over. It was a more complete story that I found satisfying and fulfilling.

The Die Hard series on the other hand seems to be the same each time out. Bruce Willis’s character never really evolves and always has the same problems; a wrecked family life, a problem with authority, and always caught in the wrong place. Even as he ages on screen his body knows no limits and he only gets more athletic in each film. In the last release of the franchise, Live Free or Die Hard (2007), the action sequences got more farfetched and unbelievable. John McClane jumps a car into a helicopter, nearly gets smashed by another car but is saved by two cars strategically placed that caught the falling car, and the entire semi truck scene with the fighter jet was grotesquely over the top.

It seems the writers tried too hard to deliver over the top action and forgot the real reason the first three were so successful; John McClane was human. He got hurt, felt pain and did not have super powers. So what happen? Overall, the franchise had all the right momentum going into its last release, but really fell short in delivering the same type of realistic intense action as its predecessors. Now Twentieth Century Fox has plans for two more sequels to the highly successful franchise, but it makes me wonder where they plan on taking the story next. Will John McClane fly? Secondly, the premise of the guy in the right place at the wrong time is getting old. I understand the last one did not apply this too much but more attention should have been focused on the development of John McClane as a character. Instead they focused more on how much crap they could blow up. The fact he can still leap tall buildings in a single bound is becoming more unbelievable.

This does not go to say that each franchise did not have their flops. I was not a big fan of Lethal Weapon 3 (1992) and felt it was the weakest of the four. And the first Die Hard (1988) is probably my favorite out of all the movies in both franchises. I simply look at it this way, if I had to watch all four movies back to back in either franchise, I would walk away feeling more satisfied with the Lethal Weapon storyline.

My vote slip is in and it says, Lethal Weapon.

So there it is; my humble opinion on Lethal Weapon versus Die Hard. Now that I’ve given my two cents on the topic I’m ready to hear yours. What do you think is the better action franchise and why?

***XTRA BUTTER now has a Twitter account! Just go to Twitter.com and search for Xtra Butter1 and request to follow his reviews, articles and blog postings!

***Xtra Butter has an official profile on Facebook.com, just click here on Xtra Butter to send a friend request today! Also “LIKE” the Xtra Butter Fan Page on Facebook.com to stay up to date on all articles and also to see all his previous reviews.

John is a badass motha fucka

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