Dir. John Moore
Starring: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch, Yuliya Snigir
With each Die Hard film, we get to see our hero, New York City Police Officer John McClane in a crazier situation. It began in Nakatomi Plaza twenty-five years ago and has only gotten bigger and more ridiculous as the series carries on. That trend continues in John Moore’s “A Good Day To Die Hard”, in which we see our practically invincible hero journey to Russia, this time to team up with his son to take down a terrorist threat.
Unfortunately, the quality seems to take a hit on each sequential Die Hard film and that continues with “A Good Day To Die Hard”, which is easily the worst entry in the series. With a lead that seems uninspired, chemistry between father and son that is practically invisible, a forgettable villain, and generic plot and action sequences, it’s easy to say this might be a good day to retire a franchise.
Read on for the full review of John Moore’s “A Good Day To Die Hard”.
“A Good Day To Die Hard” once again stars John McLane (Bruce Willis), a NYC police officer, who after discovering that his estranged son Jack (Jai Courtney) has been arrested in Russia, travels there to help get answers. He ends up finding out the truth that his son is an undercover CIA agent who is tasked to obtain a file that political prisoner Yuri Komarov (Sebastian Koch) has in his possession. After everything goes wrong, John McLane must now team up with his secret agent son to once again save the day.
Although each entry in the franchise seems to get bigger and bigger, that’s all “A Good Day To Die Hard” has going for it. It’s bigger. The setting is bigger, the threat is bigger, the team-up is bigger, the car chases are bigger, the explosions are bigger. The only thing that doesn’t seem to be bigger than the previous four films, is the entertainment value.
Everything seems to be ramped up to “11″, but “A Good Day To Die Hard” is still impossibly boring. Bruce Willis seems to be on autopilot, with an uninspired lead performance that seems to mimic his character screaming “I’m on vacation” throughout the entire movie. He never looks like he wants to be there, sharing lead duties with his newly introduced on-screen son Jack, played (poorly) by Jai Courtney. The chemistry that should be there between Courtney and Willis is non-existant and you never quite understand the hostility between the characters. The bickering becomes annoying and you never once relate or even want to cheer on either of these characters.
It’s okay to make John McClane a superhero, but wasn’t one of the best things about the first couple Die Hard films that it was somewhat plausible that this man could take down a group of bad guys in a single confined location? As these films get larger, the threats become bigger, but it never seems that way for John McClane. In “A Good Day To Die Hard” we see McClane basically know he cannot be killed. He rarely takes cover while shooting crowds of armed ben, carelessly crashes the vehicles he is driving in, he jumps out of windows without truly knowing what’s there to stop him from falling to his death. All of this is fine to create exciting cinematic wonderment; however, that never happens. It all feels like playing a video game on easy mode, going through the steps to get from ‘point A’ to ‘point B’ without having any fun or challenge at all. The sense of danger is lost.
No one expects a “Die Hard” film to be anything more than an amusing, exciting thrill ride. The story can be as generic and formulaic as you want but as long as it has some decent action sequences, audiences should be happy. If it happens to have a surprisingly good story, that’s all the better. Unfortunately, once again “A Good Day To Die Hard” leaves more to be desired. There are a few decent set pieces, with an early car chase being a minor highlight but most of the action is in a run and gun style, which seems bland and repetitive. Every action sequence in this film is something you could see in a previous Die Hard or another recent action film and with better results. The script by Skip Woods (X-Men Origins: Wolverine, The A-Team, Hitman) is pretty much what you expect from him, with fairly poor dialogue, terrible pacing, and awful character development. There are a few twists and turns throughout the rather short story, but none are very surprising and are entirely cliched. It’s predictable, outlandish and never truly feels like you are watching an entry in the Die Hard series.
The film is also fairly ugly, with it’s Russian location never very noticeable and while it’s switch to Chernobyl is intentionally displeasing, it seems almost too on-the-nose in relation to the plot’s subject matter. The direction by John Moore is slightly better than his previous effort in the atrocious Max Payne but is still very poor, delivering incoherent action scenes mixed with poorly conceived throwbacks to the original film. The score by Marco Beltrami is the least awful part of the film but seems to take elements from recent blockbusters, sounding a lot like Hans Zimmer’s work from The Dark Knight and Dark Knight Rises early on. All these elements add up to a rather bland action film that is masquerading as a Die Hard.
With very little redeemable aspects, “A Good Day To Die Hard” is easily the weakest of the series and even those with a nostalgic love for John McClane should be disappointed. Bruce Willis seems extremely uninspired and has zero chemistry with his co-lead Jai Courtney. The plot and action is poor with most of the film seeming like it’s on autopilot, barely achieving it’s generic journey from A to B. The direction and script is amateur and extremely disappointing. It’s tough to say, but it may be time for John McLane to officially retire.
“A Good Day To Die Hard” is now playing in theatres nationwide.
Final Rating: D +