Friday, November 8, 2013

A Good Day to Die Hard

Directed by John Moore.
2013. Rated R, 98 minutes.
Jai Courtney
Sebastian Koch
Rasha Bakvic
Yuliya Snigir
Radivoje Bukvic
Cole Hauser
Amaury Nolasco

When ultimate action hero John McClane (Willis) receives word that his wayward son Jack (Courtney) is sitting in a jail cell in Moscow he does what any good father would and boards the next flight to Russia. Needless to say, about two minutes after he steps off the plane, all hell breaks loose. In short order, we find out that Junior is actually a CIA operative trying to protect a political prisoner who knows the whereabouts of some very valuable and sensitive information. That means we get father and son teaming up to kill bad guys while working through their relationship issues. Everything going boom ensues.

I mean that last sentence literally. EV-UH-REEEE THING goes boom. Like its immediate predecessor, Live Free or Die Hard, this is an extended exercise in property destruction and pyrotechnics. The difference between the two is that McClane’s new sidekick is as much of a badass as he is. We sprint from one set piece to the next and reduce everything to a pile of rubble. If you want non-stop action, this is the place to be. The pace is relentless and most of the carnage is spectacular looking.

Unfortunately, the breadth and scope of the damage being done is all there is. Sure, there’s the bit about who is betraying who, but it’s nothing that couldn't have been written out, in full, on the back of a napkin. Bruce Willis is funny, but its as often unintentional as it is on purpose. This is courtesy of the incredulous smirk he wears for much of the movie. It seems to say “I can’t believe they’re paying me to make another Die Hard.” Courtney, the young buck, seems to be giving it the old college try. Sadly, he’s very Sam Worthington-esque in both appearance and blandness. He adds nothing more than a second body to help cause mayhem. Granted, this is expertly rendered and constant mayhem, but it’s still just that.

Due to all that action, and it’s relatively short run time, A Good Day to Die Hard isn't completely terrible as a disposable stand alone. The problem is that it can’t simply be what it wants. As the fifth movie in the fabled Die Hard franchise, there is too much history behind it. Too many of us not only remember, but revere what this series once was. When the first movie came out, John McClane was the antithesis of the typical action hero. He wasn't some beefed up slab of man indiscriminately destroying everything in his path to save the day. He was far more human. Public safety was a major concern of his. Above all, he didn't just say he was a family man, his actions proved it. Now, he is precisely what he once was the opposite of: an overly macho and unstoppable cyborg whose actions ignore the possibility of collateral damage. The arc of McClane as a character perfectly parallels that of the franchise as a whole. He has become exactly what this movie is. Soulless.


  1. It's an alright action movie, but a terrible Die Hard movie. Just absolutely, positively awful. Nice review Dell.

    1. That's pretty much what I was going for: ok action, not good for the franchise.

  2. I am wondering, what part of the franchise made John McClane immune to extensive periods of radiation? I must have missed it.

    Anyway, I agree. Public safety certainly wasn't a concern in this film. Ha! Second worst film, behind Oblivion.

    1. The way I have it figured, somewhere between "Die Hard with a Vengeance" and "Live Free or Die Hard" McClane became a full blown superhero. Thanks for reading!