Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Good Day to Die Hard Movie Review

Bruce Willis & Jai Courtney (r) star in A Good Day to Die Hard

From our friends at DC Film Review...

The Nine Lives of John McClane

I’d love to meet the person(s) responsible for releasing John Moore’s A Good Day to Die Hard on St. Valentine’s Day: Can you think of a more loving, romantic way to celebrate Cupid’s handiwork than a night filled with car chases, explosions and gunfire? Stranger still is the decision to ruin the popular Die Hard film series with a shoddy fifth installment that lacks the believability, charm and style of its predecessors.

Did I just praise the believability of Die Hards 1-4? I suppose so... at least when compared to A Good Day to Die Hard. It takes mere minutes for Moore (Behind Enemy Lines, Max Payne) to push his hero (John McClane) into harm’s way... no matter how absurd the circumstances. Sadly, Bruce Willis appears helpless to do anything but go along for the ride, tossing in the occasional “Yippee ki-ay, mother fu*ker” and the not-so-occasional “I’m on vacation” for good (bad) effect.

Len Wiseman deserves a lot of credit for breathing new life into the series with 2007’s Live Free or Die Hard; but five and a half years proves five and a half too many for this franchise. Moore takes Die Hard in an entirely one-sided direction, focusing on action, action, action with no regard to story or humor (outside of a funny exchange with a singing cab driver before things go BOOM.)

McClane travels to Moscow to visit his estranged son Jack (Jai Courtney) who’s up on murder charges. And you thought your family reunions were brutal. Long story short, Jack’s no criminal (although he did execute a Russian guy in cold blood... I guess that doesn’t count.) No, Jack’s CIA (naturally) and in charge of smuggling some bad guy out of the country for God knows what (I think it has something to do with a secret file.) Jack and the bad guy are sprung from court in the first of many spectacular, yet mind-numbing explosion/action sequences. After stealing a truck, Jack runs into/over his dad (John) on the road to freedom. What are the odds?

Don’t get me started on odds, because Willis’ character defies all of them. He survives a hail of helicopter gunfire, not one but two spectacular car crashes, an RPG, several multi-story free-falls and a third car crash (if you count dangling from a helicopter as a crash.) And I’m not including the biggest obstacle of all... Skip Woods’ gosh-awful script.

What little story there is, is terrible. Woods covers all the Russian stereotypes... Chernobyl, nukes, Ronald Reagan (what, no vodka?) ‘It’s not 1986 you know, Ronald Reagan’s dead,’ growls Alik (Radivoje Bukvić) the film’s main antagonist, who chews carrots and dances. Not to be outdone, Willis coughs up the forgettable, ‘Son, are we really going to Chernobyl?’ Unfortunately, so is the audience. I fell asleep for a bit, before waking up to the umpteenth exchange of gunfire and the film’s last few agonizing minutes.

I love Willis in almost anything; but even the mighty star of Moonlighting can’t rescue Die Hard 5 from itself. Loud to a fault, A Good Day to Die Hard was clearly designed for big sound (Dolby Atmos Surround Mixing) and bigger visuals (IMAX.) Moore bows to both, sacrificing everything else in between. I’m sure this isn’t the last we’ve seen of John McClane (Willis continues to defy the age gods) but let’s hope they leave Moore, Woods and company at the border before returning stateside.

Grade: D