A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD Review

A Good Day to Die Hard is not a movie, not really. There literally could not have been a script for this mess, but we are inclined to believe there was. That it was written by the same guy who penned the horrible X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Hitman makes it easier to see why this latest film in the now twenty-five year old franchise is nothing more than a few action scenes strung together by corny dialogue that hearkens back to milestones from the earlier films and a storyline that means absolutely nothing and makes almost no sense whatsoever. I've never been particularly invested in these films as the first, the one many consider an action classic, was released the year after I was born and so I was late to catch up on the earlier films until just before the 2007 sequel Live Free or Die Hard. I enjoyed that film well enough and it was directed by Len Wiseman, the guy in charge of the Underworld series and that rough remake of Total Recall last summer whose films always seem more wrapped in style and noise than any type of substance; even that movie had more of a relation to the earlier films than this. Having given the reigns of the fifth installment in the Die Hard franchise to John Moore (Max Payne, The Omen) he has frantically spliced together all the footage he was able to capture of shoot outs and car chases that were filmed for this movie in hopes that it would turn out to be more than just those sequences. Instead, at a brisk hour and a half the film has three major action pieces that come in 30-minute increments that the director hopes will fool the audience into thinking they've received everything they paid for. In reality, there is absolutely nothing about this film that will stick with you. It will disappear from your memory almost immediately with its generic plot and zero character development. It will leave no impression, and honestly that is the best thing we could ask from a movie that stinks this bad.

Bruce Willis and Jai Courtney in A Good Day to Die Hard.
What little semblance there is of a plot concerns two guys in Russia who have some type of beef with one another over a file. One has the other in prison and is attempting to extract the file location from him, but the Mr. Komarov is simply willing to give up his life over this and accept things as they are. This is all before Jack McClane (Jai Courtney) shows up and kidnaps Komarov in the middle of his trial to get him out of Russia. All is going well until Jacks dad shows up to try and mend things with his estranged son but ends up interrupting his mission which leads to the first all out action sequence taking place in the middle of a Russian freeway that destroys more than necessary but it must be said that the action is rather striking and filmed in such a preposterous way that it actually distracts from the pointless, non-existent plot structure that is in place simply to supply a context for these massive exercises in demolition and pyrotechnics. Somehow, after this ultra-extravagant car chase John and Jack end up on the same team with Komarov in toe. At the hour mark they get ambushed on one of the upper floors and a shoot out takes place that has both of the McClane's defying death multiple times in just those few moments. That being the first hour already gone and only a mere thirty minutes left the film stumbles around for a little bit, gets our protagonists to Chernobyl in time for the final action set piece involving helicopters and fires and guns and everything under the sun that entails a visually satisfying and completely empty experience that resembles little of the movies that began the franchise, but instead could have been any other Bruce Willis action flick.

In essence, Willis has become the Adam Sandler of action in that he pushes movies out consistently but puts little effort into making any of them different or very good. 2013 has been a rough year for the action flick so far. Beginning with the first of The Expendable solo projects Arnold Schwarzenegger made a not so triumphant return to the big screen with The Last Stand that was formulaic, sure, but it was fun and had endearing characters you actually wanted to root for. Sylvester Stallone's Bullet to the Head will be the biggest failure as no one really has an interest in him unless he's playing Rocky, Rambo or alongside another aging star with his status. I rather liked the film despite it overall being another throwback to his heyday, it was at least what you paid for and had a coherent point with its story even if it followed every rule of the genre to a T.

A Good Day to Die Hard can't even conjure up excitement for a character that has been around as long as I've been alive and instead feels like he has become more of a distraction and out of his element rather than still relevant at all. A man who refuses to accept these facts by seeking out things and situations to make a mess out of. The one redeeming quality of this film was the opportunity to get to know McClane's son, Jack. I enjoyed Jai Courtney's work in Decembers Jack Reacher and was happy to see him getting big work such as the heir to the Die Hard throne, but we are hardly given the chance to really get to know Jack in the way we did John in his first installment. Here, Courtney simply serves as a hard boiled CIA agent who is jaded by the fact his father was never around when he was growing up. We don't see much of the guy his father was in him and we really don't see much of that man left in Willis either. I'm not the biggest fan of this film series so I couldn't care less if they make another one or not and it will be hard to find a reason to go on past this when both critics and audiences seem to agree on the irrelevance of this entry. Either way, Willis has a good handle on who he is and will likely stick with that meaning even if we do get another Die Hard film it likely won't be much better than this. Still, you are guaranteed a grand set of good-looking explosions and that's all that really matters, right?