A Good Day To Die Hard (2013)
Director: John Moore
Stars: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch
A Good Day To Die Hard is the fifth film in the Die Hard franchise. The original Die Hard premiered all the way back in 1988 and quickly became a classic action movie, launching Bruce Willis’s career as an action star. The series slowly went downhill from there with Die Hard 2: Die Harder and Die Hard With A Vengeance receiving lower and lower reviews. Live Free or Die Hard came out in 2007 after a 12-year series hiatus and was widely praised as being on par with the original. 20th Century Fox probably should have left well enough alone.
AGDTDH opens with a pair of Russians being corrupt at each other, then an apparently Russian guy shooting another Russian, and then John McClane in an NYPD shooting range chatting with a friend who gives him a file on his long-lost son (who until this moment was only a picture on Holly Generro’s desk in the first movie) who *gasp* is the apparently Russian shooter. That’s about as surprising as the plot twists get.
From there we see Daddy McClane fly to Moscow, meet a stereotypical quirky cabbie, then get caught in the chaos that’s the hallmark of the Die Hard series. He’s supposedly flown to Moscow to see his son get his day in court, but when everything starts blowing up and going to hell he doesn’t turn into the man of action we expect to see in a Die Hard movie. Instead McClane just sort of stands around, squinting this way and that as if wondering where all that noise and smoke is coming from. When he finds his son escaping from the courthouse with another Russian in tow and other guys shooting at them, he doesn’t try to hustle them to cover or fight the shooters or offer to drive the getaway vehicle. Instead he stops and yells at him like he’s ten years old. Cue the car chase through morning rush hour traffic as McClane Jr and friend try to escape from the bad guys with John McClane chasing them both, all the while whining and complaining.
Eventually father and son are reunited and escape the bad guys and find some shelter only to have more bad guys show up and get things moving again. There’s a meeting to get an Important Thing with a double cross you can see coming a kilometer away. There’s more shooting, this time including a Hind attack chopper. The McClanes steal a car full of firearms and then hightail it to Chernobyl for a climax that involves sneaking around, questionable radiation problems, another double cross, a lot more shooting, and more helicopter hijinks. In the end, father and son fly back to the US and they and daughter Lucy (from Live Free or Die Hard) all walk off into the sunset.
The action scenes were decent enough, though I’m not sure they deserved the Die Hard name. The car chase in the beginning had tons of rapid-fire cutaways and camera zooms, but that didn’t help disguise the fact that it was just slow. There was a delivery van, a wheeled APC, and a flatbed truck. The chase was less about “drive fast and try to not hit things” and all about “hit all the things.” I’m pretty sure a sizable chunk of the movie’s budget was spent on cars to wreck just in the opening act.
John McClane’s entire reason for going to Russia in the first place never really gels either. At first he goes because his estranged son’s in jail, but when he gets there he just keeps pissing and moaning about how he’s supposed to be on vacation. Jai Courtney does a decent job as Jack McClane but Bruce Willis just seems like a grumpy old man who just wants all the shooting and fuss to stop so he can get back to his pudding cup. Don’t get me wrong; he can still run-and-gun just fine, but I lost track of all the times he whined about something or grunted, “Jesus!” when the bullets were flying. Even his trademark “yippee kai-yay motherfucker” line is delivered with all the vigor of a man who just woke up from a post-Thanksgiving dinner nap.
The movie is almost 30 minutes shorter than any of the other four movies, and it didn’t really wrap things up so much as just run out of stuff to do. After the big pie fight at the end we’re simply treated to a slow-motion reunion of father, son, and daughter on American soil, as if the McClanes said, “Welp, we’ve pretty much blown the shit out of everyone and everything. Guess we’ll head home now.” I think Bruce Willis is still a fine action star, but after AGDTDH I think the Die Hard franchise has pretty much run its course.