John Moore, the director of Behind Enemy Lines and Max Payne, finally got to realize his big dream this year when he was able to direct a Die Hard movie, A Good Day To Die Hard. The fifth films in the long running series which has John McClane (Bruce Willis) traveling to Russia to help his wayward son Jack (Jai Courtney). Though not the strongest film in the franchise, it was still packed with enough action, explosions and badass moments to make it an enjoyable watch.
Last week, the film had a press day in Los Angeles and I was lucky enough to get a one-on-one interview with Moore to discuss the film. We talked about how he got the job, working with a new sound system on it, his sadness over the disappearance of film and much more.
Check it out below.
We Got This Covered: I imagine you get this question a lot, but how did you get involved with this Die Hard sequel?
John Moore: I’ve done practically all my feature movies with Fox and it was kind of like being a KGB sleeper. I went to work with Fox thinking “god I wonder one day if I’ll ever get a shot at their crown jewel?” I got close on four (Live Free Or Die Hard). I got really close on four, and I read the script and it didn’t ring my bell. Talk about the hardest decision of your life, but it just didn’t feel like a Die Hard to me. And then I thought it was gone forever, and the next thing you know I got a call saying “look we’re going to go for five. You want to be on the list?” I was like “uh yeah, please! I’ll go on the list!”
We Got This Covered: Before the movie’s screening at the Zanuck Theatre, you talked about using the Dolby Atmos sound system for it. Was it your decision to utilize Dolby Atmos for this movie, or was that a decision made by the studio?
John Moore: Ted Gagliano, the head of post-production at Fox, is one of the great unsung filmmakers in Hollywood and he pushes a lot of technologies. The reason I think Avatar looks and sounds the way it is has a lot to do with Ted Gagliano. The Dolby guys have been talking about it, but the thing is talk is cheap and it was like “is this going to be ready? Are theaters going to have… will they spend the money? Will they put the system in?” The thing is, it’s not the sort of thing that you have to commit to and then you’re screwed because you can do a normal 7.1 mix extrusion from that, so regular theaters are fine anyway. But we were blown away that day. It’s only going to be in 60 theaters, but still it’s a hell of a thing to be part of the first few movies where they’re going to do that.
We Got This Covered: Absolutely. It’s a lot like when THX started and I remember how it built its way up slowly.
John Moore: Right! For guys who care about that stuff it’s really cool.
We Got This Covered: I read that you decided to shoot most of A Good Day To Die Hard handheld. What motivated your decision to do that?
John Moore: It was a very linear thought process. The idea was this; we’re gonna go with John McClane somewhere strange, somewhere he’s never been, and he’s going to spend 99% of the time being confused. On the other Die Hards he gets this consciousness and starts making a plan, starts being very smart, you know “ho-ho-ho I have a machine gun too!” And I thought that the best way to be as subjective as possible and be on the streets of Moscow with him was to do that sort of reportage style and just be right there and make the audience feel “fuck, we’re in it with him!” You know?
It’s only a Die Hard; it’s not Saving Private Ryan, I get it. But still, if you can pick up a quarter of 1% of fun or experience or thrill, you’re gonna do it. You’re gonna do everything you can to pick up those little percentage points because you had them all together (Atmos, handheld, etc.), and before you know it you’ve got something.
We Got This Covered: The chase scene with the truck is incredible, and I love action scenes where you feel the action instead of just watching it. I got the impression that the special effects were done with practical effects as opposed to using CGI. Was it your intention to use as many practical effects as you possibly could?
John Moore: Oh yeah, I mean right out the bat. And again that had a lot to do with a rather extensively obscure theory that if the stuntmen could walk away from a gag, then notionally John McClane could’ve survived. It sort of told us where the bar was automatically. I’m not saying it’s not dialed up to 12, I’m not saying it’s not ridiculous, but it still has that feel of maybe you’re gonna limp for a few days so it was an automatic metric to tell you that it was doable. I don’t know what all the fuss is about with CGI. I’ll tell you what impressed me, stuff like Transformers impresses me. When I see that level of work I’m like “holy fucking shit!” But when there are stuntmen and stem riggers and guys who can still do that, they’re like rodeo cowboys who can still ride like that, I’ll take them and I’ll film them.
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