Thursday, 14 February 2013

[REVIEW] - A Good Day to Die Hard

Die Hard film poster

Director: John Moore
Starring: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch
Certificate: 12A
Run-time: 97 minutes


IN SHORT: A Good Day to Die Hard is a limp, painfully average action film that may well close the curtains on the franchise.
 
The best thing about the old Die Hard movies was Bruce Willis. As McClane, he was a stubborn New York cop that did everything in his power to protect his city from terrorists and creepy bad-guys like Alan Rickman. The action was always worth catching but mostly you watched for Willis' bullish attitude and wit. In the first three films Willis was at his peak and having a great time with the role. Nowadays, he's old, out of shape and has seemingly lost any enthusiasm. Sadly, John McClane is on his last legs and so is this franchise.

For the fifth installment, John McClane travels to Russia in order to help out his estranged son, Jack, who has been arrested and tried for murder. It turns out that Jack is a CIA operative who's on a mission to protect political prisoner Komarov, who is in possession of a secret file that links high ranking Russian officials to a cover-up regarding the Chernobyl disaster. Not knowing about his son's CIA role, John ends up blowing the mission for his son, creating even more mess and unwanted attention from Russia's criminal underworld.

Bruce Willis shooting in Die Hard
Gun fire, explosions, father/son banter, gun fire. Rinse and repeat.
Before I dissect A Good Day to Die Hard, let me first say that it isn't a 'bad' movie. It's competently made and under any other title it would be a passable, but forgettable, action film. However, if you're going to dig up a screen icon like John McClane, you have a higher set of expectations placed upon you. Unfortunately, because of the 12A rating, everything that made McClane a loveable hero has been stripped away. I can only assume that because he's approaching his geriatric years, McClane no longer swears, smokes or drinks because he does none of these in the film.

The problem with the Die Hard franchise is that aside from John McClane and the New York setting, there's very little that separates it from the rest of the action crop. Die Hard doesn't have a memorable theme song, logo or unique visual style. If Bruce Willis and McClane aren't on form, then you have no film. Die Hard ends up being a collage of various action franchises. With the added CIA element, the film often falls into Bourne Identity territory and the Russian underworld has already been tackled more successfully in films like Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. Visually, the whole movie is coated with that dreaded blue and orange tint, making it feel even more generic.

Jai Courtney and Bruce Willis Die Hard
These days, Bruce Willis just looks like an egg with arms and legs.
A more apt title for this film would be Laugh Hard as it's a movie riddled with silly plot points and twists. The plot itself is convoluted and shallow. Not enough depth is put into the Chernobyl conspiracy so you end up not really caring. Plus, all of the Russian bad-guys blend into one another anyway. There's a reveal at the end that's laughable in its delivery and nonsensical if you stop to actually think about it. The film's main focus seems to be John's attempt to reconnect with his son rather than dealing with the stash of weapons-grade Uranium that these baddies are hoarding in vaults. The father/son bonding scenes begin to grate, they feel more suited to a day-time soap opera than a Die Hard film.

Overall, A Good Day to Die Hard is a film that's lacking any identity or imagination. It's a by-the-book action film that gets the job done. Everything is just okay; the chase scenes, the acting, the score, but it's all done so lazily. It's like watching the death of a long-running television show like Dexter or Scrubs. You like these characters but there's just nothing new for them to offer, each episode treads on old ground and reuses the same material. John McClane has grown old, grouchy and stale; there's no place for him anymore. They should've stopped making these films when he lost his hair!

9 comments:

  1. Good review Ben. As a Die Hard movie: it's pretty terrible. But as an action movie: I guess it's worth a shot. I guess.

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    1. Cheers Dan. Just saw that you reviewed it too and we had very similar thoughts!

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  2. It had been edited down, removing all the swearwords and gratuitous violence that was originally put into the film, Fox asked for a 12A certificate which is why the film is cut, it was originally supposed to be released as a 15. Had someone like Lionsgate owned the franchise, we would see the film as it was shot. However, we have to look at John Moore who previously fucked up MAX PAYNE so there are absolutely no high expectations from me.

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    1. The film definitely feels over-cut. The plot should be a MUCH bigger deal than it's made out to be. It's implied that these villains were responsible for Chernobyl yet it's never really explored.

      I don't understand why America got an R cut and we get 12A?

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  3. That's a real shame. I didn't think another Die Hard needed to be made in the first place, but for it to be so stripped down makes it even less wanted imo. If I were Bruce Willis I wouldn't have even agreed to do the movie with the rating being what it is. Anyway, good review. :)

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    1. Thanks man. I guess Willis just cares about money these days. I mean, he does a lot of junk now i.e. Cold Light of Day, Lay the Favourite, Setup.

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  4. No, it wasn't awesome but it was entertaining.

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  5. Youre right Bened... I kind of think it IS a bad movie though, and we're all cutting it slack because of John McClane. If this had been the first movie for some other action star, I think we'd all be killing it even worse than we are. I gave it a C-, myself, so, I'm right there with you.

    "lacking any identity or imagination" is completely right

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    1. Maybe we are cutting it some slack. All I know is that I was pretty bored and I just didn't care what happened to John and Jack. Something's not right there!

      Thanks for the comment (and for following!) Dan.

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