Review: A Good Day To Die Hard

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Die Hard 0.5

John McClane is back again for his fifth adventure, this time teaming up with his grown-up son to take on a group of political radicals in the heart of Russia. There is just one problem with this; A Good Day To Die Hard is not really much fun and as a Die Hard fan it hurts a bit to watch.

As this Die Hard opens up we see that John McClane’s son Jack has gotten himself arrested for murder and is facing Russian justice so he heads off to Moscow to try and help out his “misguided” son. Truth being that Jack is in actuality a C.I.A. agent that has placed himself in his situation to rescue a Russian prisoner and get him out of Moscow in return for a mysterious file.

One of the best things the first three Die Hard’s did so well was great setup and character development. A Good Day to Die Hard abandons all this and literally within the first fifteen minutes McClane has found out where his son is, said goodbye to his daughter, had a taxi ride with a singing Russian, survived a courthouse bombing and is chasing down Jack and the Russian baddies through the streets of Moscow while causing rampant destruction. While you watch this it feels like you are about 30 minutes ahead of what your watch says. While that may work for standard action movies these days, for a Die Hard movie it seems like lazy filmmaking. There is no character development at all to this film. But we will get to that a bit later.

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When Live Free or Die Hard was released back in 2007 it was the first in the series to abandon the “everyman” John McClane. That is one of the reasons the first three movies in the franchise worked so well. He was a cop. He made mistakes. He was a smartass and he had a sh**y family life. It was just that he was in the wrong places at the wrong (or right) times. LFODH set up McClane as almost indestructible. Like a bald, American James Bond who could take out helicopters with taxis. A Good Day to Die Hard continues this formula and even goes more over the top with some of the things that should break any normal man, but this McClane barely has a limp.

The sad part about this is that Willis can play the role of John McClane in his sleep. He does it here. The swagger, the chuckle, the smart ass comments. It’s all here, but the characters and script around the character are so very weak.

Pacing and character development are two of the serious offenders like I mentioned earlier. The movie’s breakneck speed, which may help action movies these days, is a detriment to a Die Hard movie. There is no time to develop any of the characters like Jack or the villains because the movie is too busy going from one explosion set piece to another. I really feel sorry for Spartacus alum Jai Courtney as Jack McClane. He is a great actor and could have worked a whole lot better as Willis’ son….if he had more to work with.

The presence of a memorable villain is non-existent. While I was not a big fan of Live Free or Die Hard, I did think that Timothy Olyphant’s role was a good one and worth remembering. This go round there are so many multiple Russian who all have there own agendas that by the time the main villain is revealed (20 minutes before the movie ends mind you), you really have given up even remotely caring about why he is there.

This is by far the shortest of the Die Hard’s. Where most run right at two hours or a little over this entry clocks in at only 97 minutes. Which is easy to see why when you watch the movie and see that there was not much material to work with and abandoned all hope of making you care about the players.

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I hope A Good Day to Die Hard does well in theaters which may sound weird given what I have just written, but here me out. There is still good material left for the John McClaine character. I have no doubt there is. I hope that A Good Day to Die Hard does not make people jaded towards the franchise. They just need to scale back the super-hero John McClane and get back to what made the first one so great. Develop a memorable villain, good setup and put in a worn down NYC cop who just happens to be there trying to do his best.

A Good Day to Die Hard is disappointing and not because of Willis. He was made to play John McClane, but the McClane character has got to get better and more realistic aspects working for him. If this was a normal run of the mill action flick it would be on the decent side, but being this is Die Hard we are talking about there is a higher standard that this needs to reach. Now I am going to celebrate the franchise’s 25th anniversary by watching the first three entries.




One response to “Review: A Good Day To Die Hard”

  1. I appreciate the balanced review.

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