Yippee Ki Yay Mister Falcon: Film Censorship

As the release date to A Good Day to Die Hard (or Die Hard 5 as it’s more commonly known) approaches, the British Board of Film Classification have announced that Bruce Willis’ fifth outing as John McClane will receive a 12a age certificate. For some, this is no more than your average film news, but for others, this will be throwing more salt into the wounds for fans of the original.

In today’s film industry, the general consensus for big-budget films seems that they have to be 12a, otherwise they risk alienating the more active movie going audiences. While there have been notable exceptions to this (Django Unchained), more and more films are following this pattern. Going back to 1988, the 18 rated Die Hard hit the screens with a budget of $28 million and made over $140 million. As the series has grown in popularity, the budget has risen and the age certificate has fallen, which also applies to The Terminator franchise. While this is good for studios, it has meant that what made the original films so good, has become diluted as studios monitor each and every scene to ensure the 12a rating. That is not to say that blood and violence make a good film, however the constant pandering towards the certificate comes at the cost of making a decent film as the filmmaker’s creative ideas are pushed aside.

Take Die Hard 4, released as 12a and then released as a 15 on DVD with the violence, language and humour that they hoped would please fans. On the surface, this sounds like a good idea, however, these additions were poorly added in after filming and the result was disappointing. Yet despite the dodgy cuts around the action to mask the scenes of violence, the film was still a success. The scale was larger, the action was more over-the-top and McClane took on a fighter jet with his bare hands… Suffice to say the series has changed but is it for the best? What made the original one of the best action films to date was the sense of claustrophobia as our hero is trapped in a building while trying to save hostages from the brilliant Alan Rickman and his henchmen. The action was tense and exciting while all contained within a single building, which meant that McClane was always in constant danger. Now the ante is up and the trailer for the latest instalment promises big action set-pieces around Moscow, with witty banter between McClane and his son. What’s wrong with that you may cry? Nothing, but the series’ development can be an example of bigger isn’t always better. Despite some issues, the third Die Hard managed to successfully balance large action sequences with interesting characters, such as the great inclusion of the unlikely paring of Willis and Samuel L. Jackson. The chemistry between the two was great and gave the momentum to the film, which the latest hopes to achieve by introducing McClane’s son into the fray. Time will tell as we wait to see what the director of Max Payne can do…


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