Friday, October 28, 2011

CASTING: Who Should Play John McClane's Adopted Son in Die Hard 5?

Ever since 2007's Live Free or Die Hard, there's been talk of a fifth Die Hard where Bruce Willis would hand over his franchise to a younger version of his character John McClane, possibly a son. Four years later, a sequel titled A Good Day to Die Hard is scheduled for 2013, and the search for his replacement is on.
It's a burgeoning trend in Hollywood's current climate to reboot or remake franchise classics in order to introduce iconic characters to the new generation and potentially jumpstart a moneymaking saga. In 2008, Steven Spielberg tried to convince us that Shia Labeouf was the heir to the Indiana Jones legacy. In 2009, Chris Pine took over Captain Kirk duties for William Shatner in J.J. Abrams' reimagining of Star Trek. Later that month, McG gave us a prequel to Terminator with Sam Worthington as our Tin Man. And this Christmas, Jeremy Renner gets his very own hover scene as Tom Cruise passes him the torch in the fourth Mission Impossible.

The problem with all of this recasting though isn't that it's a regurgitation of previously told stories—although that is a problem—but that there aren't that many young male actors who could possibly capture the wily courageous fervor and playful humor that John McClane possessed. Not to mention, the current crop of young actors don't have the same star power and charisma as Willis, which is required of a leading male. Die-hard Die Hard fans are going to expect the same spirit and tone as the previous three films. Otherwise, it's not a Die Hard movie. It's just an action movie. This actor will have to recreate the 80s classic while also updating it. According to the blogosphere, the studio is broadening its search by making Willis's son adopted. If McClane got divorced between Die Hard with a Vengeance, where he was estranged from his wife, and Live Free or Die Hard, where he was divorced from his wife, the son will have to be between 20-25 years old. Of course he could've been adopted at a late age, so 35 is really the limit.
The first names that come to mind for charming action heroes who can make you laugh and kick some ass are probably the Ryan's, Gosling and Reynolds. Unfortunately, Gosling isn't really the balls-out explosion type—even his closest attempt, Drive, can be considered an arthouse thriller—and Reynolds has his plate full with Deadpool duties. Other proven action heroes, like Chris Evans, Pine, Labeouf, and Worthington have already inherited or stepped into iconic roles, Evans having taken on Captain America this past summer. And because Labeouf and Worthington's renditions didn't fair well with fans at the box office, their banking power has diminished and balancing another legacy on their shoulders would be ill-advised.

B-list choices include:
Channing Tatum, who's been riding the wave of his success with Step Up for the last five years, whose most successful film since was a Nicholas Sparks movie (2010's Dear John), and who couldn't save the disaster that was G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra.
Taylor Kitsch, who failed to do X-Men's card-carrying mutant Gambit justice and will be put to the test, not once, but twice next year with the alien epic John Carter and the board game-inspired Battleship. Therefore, he has yet to prove himself enough to carry a franchise. Plus, he doesn't exactly display an innate sense of humor. He's more of the strong silent type.
Milo Ventimiglia, who actually played Rocky's son in 2006's Rocky Balboa, because of his similar lower lip movement, has proven he can do action, but only seems to find success on the small screen ("Gilmore Girls" and "Heroes").
Joshua Jackson, who has honed the "Art of Being a Smart Ass" since the day he picked up a hockey stick in The Mighty Ducks, and for the last 20 years, has delivered a bad boy Prince Charming act that makes the ladies swoon, but has been relegated to TV ("Dawson's Creek" and "Fringe") for a majority of that time.
Matt Czuchry, who isn't known for any role of bravery and often takes dialogue-heavy roles on TV ("Gilmore Girls," "Friday Night Lights" and "The Good Wife"), but still possesses the right amount of charm and smart assery to pull off witty take-downs and outsmart the bad guys.
Then there are the young ingenues who still have a long career ahead of them and have yet to be pigeonholed into any one particular archetype, like Thomas McDonell and Josh Hutcherson. McDonell is still relatively unknown. He was in this year's teen rom-com Prom. Next year, he'll continue the adolescent humor with Fun Size and The Spectacular Now, and overshadow those performances by playing a young Johnny Depp, who many believe he resembles, in Tim Burton's Dark Shadows. Hutcherson, on the other hand, has already had an amazing child actor career, starring in the indie Little Manhattan, the kiddie fantasy Zathura, the family comedy RV with Robin Williams, the heart-wrenching adventure drama Bridge to Terabithia, the action epic Journey to the Center of the Earth, and the Oscar-nominated dramedy The Kids are Alright. Next year, we can see him in the remake of Red Dawn, the sequel to Journey, and the much-anticipated adaptation of the dystopian teen adventure The Hunger Games. They both have the potential to carry a franchise and play reluctant heroes.

I realize that I've only mentioned white American actors, aside from Worthington, and given the celebrity penchant for adopting children from other countries, races, and shades, it's perfectly plausible that McClane's successor could be Black, Hispanic, Asian, Indian, etc., but let's get serious. McClane fans are going to want a carbon copy, or, as I said before, it won't be a Die Hard film. It'll just be another action movie. There is, however, a small chance that the studio will attempt a Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight), a Marc Webb (The Amazing Spider-Man), or a Zack Snyder (Man of Steel) and cast someone who's not from this country and can add a certain amount of class to the role. That's not what John McClane is about though. He's the Everyman—the Every-Blue-Collar-man to be exact. What I would allow though, to reflect this current generation and modernize the story, is the casting of someone who doesn't exactly look as brawny and fight-ready as Willis looked back in '88. Unfortunately, the only scrawny smart ass I can think of is Logan Lerman, and he botched yet another chance to carry a franchise with this month's The Three Musketeers after failing to deliver with last year's Percy Jackson & the Olympians. The studios haven't given up on him though. There will be a sequel to that mythological epic in 2013, so maybe he does have a shot.

But ideally, the right candidate will have to be someone who can believably utter the iconic phrase "Yippee ki-yay motherfucker!" without an ounce of camp.

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