Nothing Lasts Forever Review

book-cover-nothing-lasts-forever

You take his family. He’ll take your life.

 

Nothing Lasts Forever Review

Written By Roderick Thorp

Year Published: 1979

Genre: Action/Drama

Page Number: 188

Wrong Spoilers Right Time

Since you’re all likely into the post-holiday blues by now, let’s try and continue that theme with the novel that inspired the  beloved holiday classic, “Die Hard.” Yes, you heard right, the book “Nothing Last Forever” was eventually adapted into “Die Hard”.  While the basic plots are the same there are some differences. In “Nothing Last Forever” Joe Leland (not John McClain) elderly former cop, turned private detective, turned private security consultant goes to Los Angeles to visit his daughter Holly Genaro while she attends her office Christmas party at the Klaxxon oil company along with her children. While the employees celebrate the year especially their multimillion-dollar bridge deal with Chile, a ruthless gang of German terrorists take over the building leaving only Joe free. He decides to put his lifetime of skills to work and defeat the terrorists. While the big points are the same in both the book and movie, almost everything else is different.

While it has a smaller body count and better writing than most of its contemporaries “Die Hard” is an action movie thru and thru. “Nothing Lasts Forever” however, is a hardboiled detective story with a lot of action; this is the biggest change between the two. While John McClain is frequently pissed off in “Die Hard” he’s a ray of sunshine next to Joe Leland. Like any hardass old ex-cop worth his fedora, Joe has very little nice to say about anything. Joe’s not in L.A. for more than ten minutes before he starts saying that the city looks like a shaved cat and he pegs Holly’s boss and co-workers as assho#$s soon after he meets them (he right of course, but that doesn’t make him sound any less bitter). The grim tone lasts during the entire book and is especially prevalent at the end.

Like any hardass old ex-cop worth his fedora, Joe has very little nice to say about anything. Joe’s not in L.A. for more than ten minutes before he starts saying that the city looks like a shaved cat and he pegs Holly’s boss and co-workers as assho#$s soon after he meets them (he right of course, but that doesn’t make him sound any less bitter). The grim tone lasts during the entire book and is especially prevalent at the end.

The novel is told entirely from Joe’s viewpoint and this leads to big character changes. While “Die Hard” has an excellent cast of supporting characters, “Nothing Lasts Forever” saves all its characterization for the main lead and the main villain. This changes to the hero’s and villains are what help keep the book unique. In “Die Hard” the so-called terrorists were actually just a band of thieves while in “Nothing Lasts Forever” the terrorists are exactly what they seem. In “Die Hard” the contrast is between the high-class European thieves and their blue collar American enemy while in “Nothing Lasts Forever” the battle is very much age vs. youth.

In “Die Hard” the so-called terrorists were actually just a band of thieves while in “Nothing Lasts Forever” the terrorists are exactly what they seem. In “Die Hard” the contrast is between the high-class European thieves and their blue collar American enemy while in “Nothing Lasts Forever” the battle is very much age vs. youth.

While it is mentioned once that the terrorist leader Anton Gruber comes from a wealthy background what is more often remarked on is that some of the terrorists are barely older than teenagers in contrast to the sixty-year-old Joe Leland. The book is much darker due to this change especially since half the terrorists are women. This is one of the best changes as it makes the rank and file terrorists much more unique and memorable.

What was especially surprising to me was the lack of overt politics in the book. It’s not that politics are totally absent from the book but for a book published during the cold war it’s surprising to see nothing about communism or the Soviet Union. This is even more surprising given that Anton Gruber is said to have begun his career in crime with the German Marxist Baader-Meinhof gang.

I’m torn on this, while I’m no fan of political rants it would have been interesting to add another difference between Joe and the terrorists especially since the ending reveals them to be quite justified. While I am happy the main villain got more back-story Anton Gruber simply can’t compare to Alan Rickman’s utterly superb turn as Hans Gruber. But  villains are nothing without an interesting hero to go against and Joe Leland brings a lot to the table

Joe Leland first appeared in “Thorp’s previous novel “The Detective.” Fortunately, the events of “The Detective” are recapped in the begging of the book and don’t effect the events of the book except by explaining how the main character’s background. Joe Leland is a former WW2 fighter pilot, turned police detective, turned private detective, turned security consultant. He gained fame from solving a controversial case during his police years, only to find out many years later a private detective that he arrested the wrong man. While this case also revealed massive amounts of municipal fraud, the ones responsible escaped punishment.

All this plus the divorce and later death of his wife along with his estrangement from his daughter and grandchildren have left him with a very cynical and world-weary mindset. All this trauma and experience makes Joe a man who thinks a lot but says little. While this allows a huge incite into what Joe’s history and thought process, it also has a downside.

This is one of the few novels where I feel like we learn too much about a character. Joe will flashback: to the end of his marriage, the history of his daughter, security conferences, and even old romances. While everything we learn is interesting and informative, sometimes it comes out of nowhere and disrupts the story. Fortunately, these little asides never come in the middle of anything and aren’t very long.

Joe’s checkered past also make’s him a ruthless mofo during the course of the book. Due to his security consulting experience Joe is familiar with Gruber’s past and he absolutely despises him and all his followers. He’s much more brutal in dispatching them, even to the point where he has one at gun point and just because he’s suspects they young terrorist is about to go on a righteous rant Joe shoots him in the neck and tosses his body off the roof. Joe’s kill’em all attitude is explained by his conflict fueled past making him a more violent person and his fear that if the police lay siege to the building his loved ones will be collateral damage. While Joe isn’t as likable a character as John McClain he’s definitely entertaining and you’ll be rooting for him by the end. This ruthless attitude culminates in a massively different ending for the book.

While “Die Hard” is a simple tale of a lone hero struggling against murderous thieves and an incompetent police department “Nothing Lasts Forever” in true noir style is much more gray in its morals. I was defiantly a fan of this change as it’s both interesting and great discussion material. It’s often brought up that Joe may be doing more harm than good in fighting the terrorists and the ending brings that into focus.

On route to their final showdown, Gruber tells Joe that his gangs’ plan was to take the tower hostage due to the bridge being a cover for selling arms to the murderous, U.S backed Chilean government (Google Augusto Pinochet if you want to know more about that). They planned to execute the C.E.O as an example to other corporations then take the six million dollars in the company vault and dump it out the windows returning it to the people. After this, they would escape with no deaths but a heartless corporate snake. While it’s possible that Gruber is lying, later evidence reveals that the bridge was a front and the executives, including Holly were in on the whole thing.

Speaking of Holly she doesn’t fare nearly as well as John McClain’s wife, after Joe and Gruber’s climatic showdown a mortally wounded Gruber grabs Holly by her new watch and they both topple out an open window to their deaths. Joe then mercilessly executes the surviving terrorists and dumps the money out the window anyway. While this end was absolutely crushing it fit with the rest of the book and further called Joe’s actions into question. While it’s certainly not as fun as “Die Hards” ending it’s definitely more interesting.

While “Die Hard” is an essential action classic that should be watched by everyone who is even marginally interested in good action, the book is quite different. Anyone going into the book expecting the same story as the movie will be very disappointed, especially by the very different tone. However, if you’re a fan of complex noir stories (which I am) you’ll definitely find something to like about “Nothing Last Forever”

F.A.Q’s

Did I like the book: Yes

Would I read it again: Yes

Would I buy it: Yes

Two fish run into an underwater concrete wall what do they say: Dam

 

Lethal Weapon Review

lethal-weapon-2-poster-1989

One’s old Both are Dangerous

 

Lethal Weapon Review

Directed By Richard Donner

Stars: Danny Glover, Mel Gibson

Year Released: 1987

Genre: Action

Running Time: 1 Hour 50 Minutes

This Holliday Season, one review will have Spoilers

It’s been awhile since I’ve strapped down and done a proper review but since it’s the holidays I thought I’d review a few Christmas movies that don’t usually find their way onto people lists this time of year. I’ll start things off with a bang with the all time buddy cop action movie classic “Lethal Weapon.” It might be a surprise a few of you that “Lethal Weapon” counts as a Christmas movie but it takes place during the Christmas season and the final climax involves Gary Busey shooting up Danny Glover’s house as “It’s a Wonderful Life” plays in the background. If that doesn’t make this movie a Christmas than I don’t know what does.

Another good set of Christmas credentials is that “Lethal Weapon” is written by scriptwriter and occasional actor/director Shane Black who loves to set his movies during Christmas time. Trust me when I say that this isn’t the last we’ll be seeing of Mr. Black.

Before we get into the plot I just want to say that Lethal Weapon has one of the most eighties-tastic movie openings in history despite being released in 87. For those who haven’t seen the movie pause now and go watch the beginning of lethal weapon to see what I’m talking about. I thought that opening was so freaking crazy that I looked up the script so I could see how it was written. It turns out that it was a much longer scene, that built up to the jump instead o it coming out of nowhere, I guess it was just one of the things they changed in the adaptation process.

The plot involves two mismatched L.A cops being put together to Roger Murtagh (Danny Glover) is an African American middle-class family man who just turned fifty. Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) is a white loner who lives in a trailer by the beach and is currently suicidal after the death of his wife. Both men served in Vietnam, Murtagh as an infantryman and Riggs as Special Forces sniper. This turns out to be the key to the investigation as the dead girl was the daughter of Michal Hunsaker (Tom Atkins) a war buddy turned banker who has gotten involved with a group of drug dealing ex C.I.Assassins led by the ex-General Peter McAllister (Mitchell Ryan) and his top killer Mr. Joshua (Gary Busey).

While the mismatched buddy cop movie had been done a few times before this, it was “Lethal Weapon” that perfected it. The plot is pretty standard. Two cops investigate a minor crime that turns out to be connected to both the past’s of the cops and a bigger criminal organization. Fortunately, everything else helps elevate “Lethal Weapon” into the realm of action greatness.

The main thing that I want from my action films is good action and I’m happy to say that “Lethal Weapon” delivers with frequent displays of badassery from both of our leads. The camera work is good and the sets are excellent but what really elevates it, are the two leads. Glover manages to look old without looking feeble and plays the perfect friendly straight man. Gibson shines especially in the action scenes as he snarls and screams like the lunatic he’s supposed to be. Even better is that we sympathize with the both struggles of both characters, whether it’s Glover’s age and frustration with Gibson, or the pain Gibson losing his wife. The two have great chemistry together and the way they play off each other makes the comedy funnier and the action more exciting.

Sadly there are a few flaws that keep “Lethal Weapon” from total domination. While I often find the villains more interesting than the heroes, “Lethal Weapon” had the exact opposite problem. Despite supposedly being elite mercenary killers they just seem like regular goons in suits except for the very cool and very crazy Gary Busey who almost manages to make up for the shortcomings of the other. Gibson also once and a while dials up the wacky parts of his character too far and just looks dumb. It’s the same with Glover’s friendly attitude sometimes he pushes it too far and he just comes off as creepy.

One very strange problem was the version I watched recently had extra scenes added that I think took more away than they added. They essentially gave both characters a second into that while cool was completely unnecessary. This wouldn’t be a problem if the scenes were just left in the deleted scenes section, but no they had to be in the movie.

Fortunately, these problems are all small and don’t even come close to ruining a great movie. It’s nice to see where all the buddy cop movies spawned from and how it managed to spawn so many imitators. If you want to go back to a time where Danny Glover wasn’t too old for this shit and Mel Gibson only played a crazy person in movies, spend your holidays with “Lethal Weapon.”

F.A.Q’s

Did I like the movie: Yes

Would I watch it again: Yes

Would I buy it: Yes

Things to avoid this holiday: Don’t confuse Santa with Satan (again)

lethal_weapon_im_too_old_for_this_shit

Damn Straight