The expectations for A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD - the just-around-the-corner fourth sequel to the 1988 action classic - weren't high. It's close to six years since the last instalment (2007's DIE HARD 4.0) and that had been pretty weak.
But still...it's Bruce Willis. Up against terrorists and foreign ones at that. There was going to be an interesting new location (Russia) for John McClane to blaze a trail through. There was even a snappily edited teaser trailer.
An orgy of exploding cars, salty one-liners and rocket-firing helicopter gunships, all set to Beethoven's Ode To Joy. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, we found out today. A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD has been certified by the BBFC as '12A'. Before you reach for the pitchforks and blazing torches, people, this isn't the BBFC's decision; they offered the distributor a '15' certificate, with no cuts. However, 20th Century Fox UK had other ideas. They went back to the editing suite, took out the scissors and resubmitted a significantly cut version to get that lower certificate.
So why do this? Simply put - for financial gain. The '12A' means more people can get to see it and this naturally means that the box-office opportunity is increased.
This kind of stunt by the studios isn't new. THE WOMAN IN BLACK, THE HUNGER GAMES, JACK REACHER...all were changed, to greater or lesser extents, from their original versions to get a '12A'. Strong language is removed. Blood gets spilt less. And loud noises on the soundtrack get the volume turned down. (I'm not kidding on that last one.)
The fourth entry in the DIE HARD series was never going to be a work of art or even likely to be a classic of the action genre. But there's a principle here. The makers of this film clearly intended A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD to be for an adult audience. 20th Century Fox in the US is honouring that by releasing it with an 'R' rating - essentially the same as our '15'. But across the pond, their UK counterparts clearly think they know better. With half-term looming, why not go for that pre-teenage audience ?("Hey kids, forget WRECK-IT RALPH. Here's WRECK-IT BRUCE!")
I'm going to skip this watered-down Willis extravaganza until the inevitable "NOT SEEN IN CINEMAS!" cut is released on DVD.
In the meantime, it's time to go back and remind ourselves of the original (and best) DIE HARD. The good old days, when Bruce had hair. When the only bad guys John McClane had to face off against were terrorists and not the studio suits.
And when f-bombs (and blood) were free to flow...