It was not a good day to die hard. John McClane has returned, but the yip and the ki-yay and everything that follows has been bludgeoned from the aging character. The latest Die Hard movie lacks the energy, the fun and the cleverness of the previous entries, a disappointing addition to the typically entertaining franchise.
For the record, I am a big Die Hard fan. I am a huge John McClane fan. I even liked Live Free and Die Hard, which, while not great, still captured the essence of a Die Hard movie: put John McClane in the wrong place at the wrong time, give him a gun and arm him with plenty of sarcastic comments.
If screenwriter Skip Woods had watched a Die Hard movie in the past, he sure as hell doesn't show it. Director John Moore should have taken a few more notes, too.
A Good Day to Die Hard, the fifth movie in the Die Hard franchise, transfers John McClane (Bruce Willis) to Russia as he seeks out his son Jack (Jai Courtney), who is on trial for murder. Naturally, terrorists strike and John partners with his reluctant son - a CIA spy - to save the day.
The silly plot is more convoluted than that as Woods has opted for more James Bond, less Die Hard. How John gets mixed up in everything is forced at best, and the situations he and his unlikable son get into increase in absurdity as time goes along. In a day and age when James Bond is getting more grounded, Woods takes A Good Day to Die Hard in the wrong direction.
The plot is only part of the problem. The screenplay is terrible. Downright terrible. Bruce Willis is one of the most entertaining and charismatic action stars. He can shine even in the crappiest of movies. And yet, Willis seems lost in his trademark role. The chemistry between Courtney and Willis is painfully bad, as their two characters spend most of the movie telling each other to shut up and not much else. The dialogue isn't fun or witty, let alone believable.
The villain is as generic and forgettable as they come, too.
Moore delivers some pretty decent action scenes, though it isn't always clear what is happening. He offsets any good he brings to the table with inconsistent pacing and an overall lack of enthusiasm for, or understanding of, what makes the Die Hard movies so fun. Like having fun. Or using good music (the music is shockingly generic and subdued).
Don't get me started on the slow motion shots, or the scene where the two McClanes fall into a vat of radioactive Chernobyl water and think nothing of it ("it's only rainwater").
The marketing department got it right - with John McClane kicking ass to the tune of Beethoven's "To Joy" pounding relentlessly - so it's staggering how much the filmmakers get wrong. I so wanted to like A Good Day to Die Hard, and for an hour and a half I tried my yippee ki-yay fucking hardest, but the movie simply misses the mark. The movie has its high points, but this is one day I'd rather forget.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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