YIPPIE-KI-YAY! Bruce Willis is back as John McClane in A Good Day To Die Hard. This time it’s McClane times two as John teams up with his son, Jack (Jai Courtney) to stop the Russian underworld for starting a nuclear war. Does Die Hard 5 live up to the McClane legacy of movies, or should this old dog have been put down a long time ago?
Normally I write my reviews in two parts. I like to give people unfamiliar with the film a summary of the plot and then an overview of my opinion on whether it’s worth the time and hard earned money to make the trek to the theater. A Good Day to Die Hard is so difficult to write like that, mainly because the plot is very convoluted and pretty much non-existent. The film is just car crashes and bullets book ended with odd conversations between bad guys and domestic bickering between the main characters. Basically Bruce Willis returns as America’s favorite retired NYPD detective, John McClane, who once again finds himself to be the wrong guy in the wrong place at the wrong time. The setting this go around is Russia. He thinks his son is in trouble and about to be sent to prison for life for shooting a guy. So John hops on the first plane to Russia. Unbeknownst to him, his son, Jack played by Jai Courtney, is actually an undercover CIA operative trying to rescue a political prisoner by the name of Yuri Komarov. Komarov was wrongly imprisoned for being a whistle blower to a highly ranked and corrupt Russian official. The politician wants Komarov to turn over a secret file that could end his career. Things get crazy, scum bags get shot, and about a thousand cars get destroyed in a ridiculous getaway car chase. This movie has more property damage than the four previous franchise installments combined.
Now some people, including myself, like action films the same way they like their porn, a shit ton of action with little to no story. But this is a Die Hard movie. It deserves so much more then a movie studio lazily slapping a John McClane seal of approval sticker to a Bruce Willis action flick. A Good Day To Die Hard is such a sloppy mess that it does an ungodly disservice to the previous four movies, which in my opinion is a major slap in the face to fans.
I will start with the only redeeming quality of the movie, Bruce Willis himself. For a guy in his late 50’s, he still is a joy to watch on screen. He delivers all the funny dialog with his trademark smirk and can run and gun with guys twenty years his junior. Bruce Willis/John McClane is a bad ass. But what makes John McClane such a likable character is because he is a realistic underdog. He is a role model to blue collar workers. He is the epitome of a guy trying to save a family member with little to no resources against a villain in a battle of wits and bullets. That’s the John McClane we have all grown to love since 1988. A Good Day To Die Hard doesn’t include this McClane. This McClane is too busy babysitting his bratty son, because he is a bumbling CIA Agent that still holds a grudge that daddy didn’t hug him enough as a child. John McClane is also believable of a hero because he bleeds. Remember when he was picked out glass from his feet? In this movie, I think the director thought Bruce Willis was playing David Dunn in Unbreakable. In the twenty minute car chase, John flips two separate vehicles at least twenty times in the air while not wearing a seat belt. He walks away from the horrendous motor vehicle accidents without so much as a scratch. I was waiting for Mr. Glass to walk on screen in an M. Night Shyamalan plot twist. Instead of this McClane giving us detonators, he gave us a bomb.
One of the rules to the Die Hard franchise is some sort of family problem, especially dealing with John being a workaholic cop who always put his job before his family. This is where the son fits into the plot. John McClane Jr., or Jack as he is referred to in the movie, is portrayed by Jai Courtney. Some people know him from his television role as Varro from Spartacus: War of the Damned or most recently as the bad guy from the Tom Cruise film, Jack Reacher. I know in the Die Hard films, the McClane clan hates their patriarch leader, but so much that you don’t tell your father you work for the CIA? I understand national security, but you can’t even trust your cop dad with a secret like that, even knowing that your dad has saved the world four previous times? This was a major problem in the plot. This was the ludicrous excuse to get John in Russia. I guess when they were filming in Hungary, the film studio got some ridiculous tax breaks to destroy the city. Physically Jai looks like a McClane, but he absolutely comes off as a bratty toddler with an automatic machine gun. I understand the daddy issues, but seriously, you can’t trust your dad just a fraction to ask for advice? The whole movie was a domestic argument every time they shared screen time, which by the way was almost the entire movie. After forty minutes it just became tired. There was tension in Die Hard with John and his wife, but when shit hit the fan, Holly knew her and her co-workers were in good hands.
Another key element to a Die Hard movie is a villain who commands an overly armed militia, is highly financed and is extremely intelligent. Eventually the arrogance of the villain ends up being the vulnerability that McClane exploits. Hans Gruber, Colonel Stuart, Simon Gruber, and even Thomas Gabriel outmatched McClane in every way: Intelligence, personnel, equipment and firepower. But McClane survived because he waited for the bad guy to make a simple mistake and pounced all over it. It was always a chess game of book smarts vs. street smarts. In A Good Day To Die Hard, there are multiple villains that the McClanes have to shoot at. The problem is that there are too many and are bland and generic. The only somewhat highlight of a villain is Alik played by Rasha Bukvic. He was sharp dressed, cocky, and had a mannerism about him that would somewhat rival a James Bond bad guy. The problem is he wasn’t the main bad guy and he was under utilized. By the time you get the big reveal of the antagonist’s scheme, you just won’t care.
So what is really the problem with A Good Day To Die Hard? You can possibly blame the director, John Moore, the same guy who directed The Omen, Behind Enemy Lines, and Max Payne. Maybe you can blame the writer, Skip Woods, who wrote the screenplays for X-Men Origins: Wolverine, The A-Team and Hitman. Maybe we can blame 20th Century Fox for slapping together a piss poor director with an uninspired script in hopes that the fans will just flock to theaters starving to see John McClane on the silver screen in the elaborate ruse called a Die Hard movie. I’d say we can blame all the above.
A Good Day To Die Hard is really short. Compared to the other movies that are well over two hours long, this installment is only 97 minutes long. That’s both a good and bad thing, Good because it not that long for theater attendees to sit and watch this cringe worthy abomination, but bad because the film could have spent more time developing the heroes, villains, and the plot. The one hour and thirty-seven minutes is filled with nausea inducing shaky cam, atrocious dialog and so many plot holes, it makes Swiss cheese jealous.
If you are a huge fan of the Die Hard franchise, I’m sorry to say that you are going to be majorly disappointed with A Good Day To Die Hard. I cannot emphasize this anymore than to simply say the movie fucking sucked. It is uninspired and will leave the “die-hard” Die Hard fans with a sense of betrayal in almost the same way Star Wars fans felt about the Prequel trilogy. I cannot at all recommend this movie. But if you don’t believe me, please at least do yourself a favor and see it at a bargain matinee or maybe even wait and go to the fifty cent theater. Do not pay full price! Be warned, after seeing it, you may want to throw yourself off the top of the Nakatomi Building.
In Theaters: February 14, 2013
Runtime: 1 hour 37 minutes
Rating: R (for violence and language)
Director: John Moore
Cast: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch, Yuliya Snigir
Genre: Action/Adventure, Sequel
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Official Site: http://www.diehardmovie.com