The Mayhem guy, John McClane and A Good Day to Die Hard

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I thought the Allstate Super Bowl commercial that casts Mayhem as the influence of evil was genius.Mayhem doesn’t just weave his way through History, he also impacts individuals, wreaking havoc in minivans and suburban neighborhoods as well as on battlefields. He is a first-third world problem.

After seeing the latest Die Hard installment it occurred to me that John McClane must be one of Mayhem’s favorite targets.  Through five movies over twenty-five years Mayhem has followed around John McClane. At times John has seemed like a willing participant in this chaos, but most of the time, especially in the earlier movies, he’s cast as a guy who winds up in the wrong place at the wrong time more times than any odds of coincidence can stretch.

Fortunately John  is equipped with persistence and problem-solving skills along with decent aim, all of which equip him to deal with Mayhem better than the average person. But Mayhem has taken it’s toll on John’s relationships, on his body, and on his perspective. In a way that seems absent in the earlier films, in the latest two John has developed the capacity to aim flying cars and to plan and execute a battle plan rather than merely reacting creatively to havoc. Part of the charm of the earlier films is that John is shooting from the hip. Now Mayhem seems to have attached itself to His persona. John has become an experienced participant in Mayhem.

Since the first Die Hard movie John’s inability to balance work and home has been a running subplot. He doesn’t seem to be able to readjust to normal life after the adrenaline rush that comes from fighting bad guys. His long-suffering wife Holly has divorced him by the time of the Live Free or Die Hard installment which features his daughter Lucy. The plot and pacing of Live Free or Die Hard give John and Lucy time to establish character and let their relationship unfold through the film. 

A Good Day to Die Hard doesn’t leave enough breathing room between the scenes of chaos and destruction. John’s son Jack seems to be following in his father’s footsteps and has landed squarely on Mayhem’s radar.  Though he harbors animosity toward his father, Jack enlists John’s help to fight some sketchy Russians. The two attempt to resolve their relationship issues amid flying vehicles and gunfire. In each movie somebody has to step up and address Mayhem in its various forms, and John is that someone.These two most recent Die Hard movies address John’s regrets as a father and offer some hope for reconciliation with his kids just as the earlier movies ended with John reaching out to Holly.

While our actual encounters with Mayhem may not be as extreme as John McClane’s, we all encounter incidents of Mayhem and sometimes extended periods of chaos. How we process Mayhem in our lives affects our relationships with God and one another and how we see ourselves. Encounters with Mayhem impact our ability to love and trust. Frequent and intense Mayhem can beat us down and leave us wary and tough. Mayhem can influence our sense of hope and what we dare expect.

None of us have the capacity to deal with a Being that has been wreaking havoc since the Garden of Eden. We aren’t expected to predict his next move or toss a car in his general direction. Our best course of action is to let Christ handle Mayhem. Jesus’ initial response  to Mayhem was strategic, effective, and decisive. Where Mayhem is concerned we follow His lead or hide behind Him. Jesus is the hero of this story. He’s already died hard and risen harder. Mayhem doesn’t stand a chance.

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