He may have turned 56 this year, but Bruce Willis is still the (deadly) cowboy onscreen. New installments in two Willis-centric action movie franchises – Die Hard 5 and Red 2 – are likewise more than alive and well, with the studios behind both projects eying a production start date sometime in the next year.

The search is still on for a helmer to call the shots on the sequel to last year’s surprise hit comic book flick, Red; however, John McClane’s fifth crazy adventure has officially snagged a director.

Deadline is reporting that John Moore (Behind Enemy Lines) has begun final negotiations to call the shots on Die Hard 5, taking over the director’s chair left vacant by Noam Murro (who is helming 300: Battle of Artemisia instead) – and beating out the likes of Joe Cornish (Attack the Block) and Nicolas Wending Refn (Drive), who were on the director’s wish list. So was Justin Lin, but he admitted to passing on the project a couple of weeks ago.

Word leaked about a month ago that the Die Hard 5 directing job was Moore’s to take or leave; apparently, the one who needed convincing was Willis, who liked Moore’s appreciation for the McClane character and knack for shooting “practical, non-CGI-heavy action scenes” that have long been a part of the Die Hard franchise. Yes, even the scene where McClane destroys a helicopter with a car in Live Free or Die Hard was partially done using practical tools.

Fans who have yet to be pleased by anything Moore has directed – be it the generally-despised Max Payne video game movie adaptation or his remakes of Flight of the Phoenix and The Omen – probably won’t be rallying behind the man just yet. Moore is less an auteur and more just a director-for-hire, which is surely a reason he ended up being hired on for the fifth Die Hard – and also why it’s best to not dismiss him yet, based on his previous films.

Die Hard 5 is being scripted by Skip Woods, who also wrote the intentionally preposterous A-Team movie – which ended up being a surprisingly slam-bang popcorn flick. So between his involvement and the rumored premise for the new Die Hard, this sequel could be fun (if only for the joy of watching McClane clash with Russian officials over “proper police protocol”).

Red 2

Red screenwriting duo Erich and Jon Hoeber were hired on last year to pen a sequel to the “retired and extremely dangerous” action-comedy flick, which Summit wants to start production on by 2012. The problem is that Red director Robert Schwentke will be working on another comic book adaptation, R.I.P.D., for the good portion of next year. So, the search for a replacement director to helm Red 2 is on.

In its report about Moore securing the Die Hard 5 job, Deadline mentions that Breck Eisner (The Crazies, Sahara) has been touted as a possible candidate, but that several other yet-to-be-disclosed filmmakers are also being looked at. Since he won’t be busy with the fifth Die Hard flick, Joe Cornish also sounds like a nice fit for the Red sequel’s mix of humor and kick-ass action set pieces – but that’s just us throwing his name out there.

The original Red movie adaptation was well-directed and benefited from having can’t-miss stars like Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, Mary-Louise Parker, and Brian Cox (plus, hammy-but-fun John Malkovich) onboard. So, all things considered, it might not be bad if this sequel ends up being put on hold long enough for Schwentke to finish R.I.P.D. and return as director.

Plus, with Willis slated to appear in Die Hard 5, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, The Expendables 2, and possibly even Kane & Lynch (assuming that pic lands a new director soon) in the immediate future, he might not be free to appear in Red 2 for a while now anyway.

Die Hard 5 is apparently still being eyed for a 2012 theatrical release, but don’t be surprised if it ends up being pushed back to 2013.

We will keep you posted on the status of Red 2 as more information is released.

Source: Deadline