The story in today’s NY Times about how Secretary Paulsen has finally noticed that it might be a good idea to keep an eye on the three card monty dealers who are running America’s investment houses puts me in the mind of one of my favorite guilty pleasures–Action Movies–and when I think action movies I think Die Hard!
In the event that the reader has not yet enjoyed the experience of a Die Hard movie, let me fill you in on the basic plot. There are bad guys intent on at least taking and at most destroying something or everything important to huge numbers of Americans. Somewhere down in the midst of the endangered hoi polloi is an individual–a spouse, a child, a best friend–who stands to suffer the same fate as the unwashed masses unless our plucky hero saves the day. In the first movie, it was our plucky hero’s wife. In the second, our PH’s wife and the statistical nonentities lucky enough to be flying on the same plane as the woebegotten Mrs. PH. I don’t remember much about Die Hard 3 except that Samuel L. Jackson was in it–which doesn’t narrow it down. In Die Hard 4 it was the Dell Dude; the audience didn’t get to vote.
The point is that a key element of the Die Hard franchise is the extremely high body count among collateral innocent victims. A lot of people die so that the Dell dude might live.
To whit, the mortgage crisis.
In Die Hard 5: Live Hard, Send Your Money to Anguilla, a ring of unscrupulous corporate bigwigs generate a Ponzi scheme to trick people into staggering debt, then scatter that debt all over the landscape so that when the chickens come home to roost the Colonel and his group will be chick shit free. Cut to the blood crazed zombie chickens. All of a sudden there is carnage ! On Main street! On Wall Street! On Sesame Street, Oscar is served notice that there is a $3,ooo balloon payment due on his garbage can.
Meanwhile, our hero John McClane–that’s MCLANE, not the other one–is resting comfortably in his easy chair watching ultimate boxing deep in the loving arms of a 5% thirty year fixed rate. He gets a call from his old war buddy Hank Paulsen.
“Hey, Johnny, how ya doin’?”
“Hank! Long time no! Whatcha been up to?”
“Listen, John. I’d love to shoot the shit, but something serious has come up.”
“Hey, Hank, I’d love to help, but I’m retired.”
“I know, John, and I wouldn’t ask except . . . .”
“Bear? Bear Sterns? What’s that ol’ SOB up to?
“You know bear.”
“Yeah, I remember ’88–“
“This isn’t ’88, Johnny. He’s in deep this time, and we need you to get him out.”
“Boy! Just when you think . . . .”
So now all bets are off. John McClane has a war buddy to save, and that war buddy WILL BE SAVED. Of course, there will be the ancillary and unavoidable collateral damage. Bear has put at risk a lot of people who will have to be stepped over or on should the day be saved. Nothing to be done; it’s how the story goes.
On the upside, Bear will come out okay, and at least some of the bad guys will die operatically. On the down side, the extras–huge numbers of extras will be sacrificed to the service of a loud and public car chase. But hey, isn’t that why we have so many extras? If they die, they die. If they don’t die just pay them their $600 per diem and send them to the catering tent. Die Hard 6: Hell and High Water is in pre-production, and we’re gonna need some stiffs.