A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)

15 Feb


Smith’s Verdict: **

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

1988’s “Die Hard” is considered one of the very best action films ever made, and their sequels have their shares of thrills as well. Though, it’s hardly a secret that the first film’s exhilaration has since diminished with each sequel…and unfortunately, its fifth installment, “A Good Day to Die Hard,” is enough evidence to show that the franchise is dying…hard.

“A Good Day to Die Hard” doesn’t even seem or feel like a “Die Hard” movie. It just seems all too generic—here’s a conflict no one should care about; here’s a few generic bad guys who love to shoot everything up; and here’s a load of explosions, and lots of ‘em! Add the wisecracking hero and an annoying sidekick, and…really? This is “Die Hard?” The other movies had more going for them than this—characterization, proper setups-and-payoffs, and memorable villains. Those elements are what made “Die Hard” and some of its following sequels fun to watch—they added to the excitement of the action sequences so we cared about what was happening on-screen.

But at least we have Bruce Willis, again playing the hero cop Det. John McClane and again finding himself in one unusual predicament after another. And to be fair, he’s the best thing in this movie. Sure, he’s noticeably aged, but his wisecracking personality is still welcome. (He even says his “yippie-ki-yay” line, which I’m sure people missed in the previous “Die Hard” film.) However, there’s one question regarding his character—why is he suddenly so freaking invincible?! Remember when in the first movie, his feet were torn to shreds after having to escape barefoot on shards of broken glass? Now, whenever he crashes through plate-glass windows or survives car crashes, he only has a few scratches instead of ten or fifteen broken bones! Did John McClane just turn into the Terminator, as he got older?

But I digress. The action takes place in Moscow, Russia. John’s son Jack (Jai Courtney), a CIA agent, has been arrested for murder and is awaiting trial. John and Jack haven’t spoken to each other in years, but John wants to travel to Russia to…actually, I just realized I have no idea what his original plan was. Was he going to try and negotiate with the authorities? What can he say? He’s obviously out of his jurisdiction, to say the least. On top of that, he can barely speak a word of Russian. So what was he going to do originally? Plan a jailbreak? He’s clearly working alone!

I don’t know; and frankly, I don’t care. But it doesn’t matter anyway because as John gets to the courthouse, all hell breaks loose and Jack manages to escape Russian justice. Along with him is a political dissident, Komarov (Sebastian Koch), who has some sort of…”McGuffin,” I guess, that a band of terrorists are trying to get their hands on. John ends up in the mix, and thus we get to add awkward father/son bonding to standard, generic, shoot-em-up, action-movie elements. Oh. How. Exciting.

While the “Die Hard” movies have had some pretty effective villains (the one that particularly comes to mind is Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber from the first movie), there is no real villain in this movie, strangely. There are just certain villainous characters who seem to one-up each other for complicated reasons, along with several henchmen. When the top villain is finally unmasked, however, it comes as no surprise (you’ll figure it out early on). Motivations are clumsily written, and so it’s hard to follow everything that’s being thrown at us. The action, as a result, comes across as (broken record) generic.

Bruce Willis is Bruce Willis, and he’s still likeable as always. But as his sidekick in the action, Jai Courtney is just a crushing bore. He’s whiny, annoying, and ultimately bland. Oh, and here’s the worst thing about him. He’s the central figure of this “Die Hard” movie—not John; he’s merely there for support. Yeah, because I’m sure we want to see this guy backed up by the iconic Bruce Willis character!

“A Good Day to Die Hard” at least has a few good-looking action sequences, and director John Moore is evidently a capable action director. But the main thing missing from this action film is the energy and creativity that the original film had. It just feels like a throwaway action flick that is subjected to our minds and then leaves very little impact. Maybe it’s time for this “Die Hard” franchise to…”die hard.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: