Film Review – A Good Day To Die Hard

A Good Day To Die Hard (M)

Directed by: John Moore

Starring: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney,

Three stars

Review by: Julian Wright

Sometimes we just need to accept the inevitable. The Die Hard series is not what it used to be. At once genre defining, now merely an unrecognisable, unimaginative string of explosions and one-liners. What you need to ask yourself as an audience member is are you going to resist or are you going to accept the latest installment for what it is and go with the flow? We must come together and mourn the passing of the original trilogy (although they will forever live on in our minds, or when we revisit them on DVD), put a big black mark after part three (Die Hard With a Vengeance) and accept that part four Live Free or Die Hard took the series in a much inferior direction.

The charm, heart, soul and appeal of the series and the down to earth, everyman nature that made John McClane the ultimate relateable hero have been unceremoniously stripped away, but it is not to say that we cannot enjoy some of the explosive, pyrotechnic heavy eye candy that is now on display. Director John Moore (The Omen remake and Max Payne – dead giveaways of the quality of work to expect) certainly doesn’t expect us to take any of  this seriously anymore, so why should we? With a script, by Skip Woods) that probably read as a check list of one-liners and action direction (ie: cars crash, vehicles explode, insert five minutes of gunfire here etc) this is all about how much damage can be made and put on screen.

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Moving the action to Russia (apparently there was nothing left in the USA for McClane to obliterate after his trail of destruction through LA,  Washington DC and New York), our aging hero John McClane (Bruce Willis) attempts to reunite with this estranged son Jack (Jai Courtney) but discovers he is in much deeper trouble than he once thought. Jack has been working as a CIA operative trying to prevent a nuclear weapon heist and McClane finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time yet again.

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The Die Hard series may have lost the plot but it has found a great team of stunt performers and special effects whizzes. Not a minute goes by that doesn’t feature an over-the-top action sequence that makes a crazy attempt to outdo anything else committed to film before. The effort put in to wow an audience with such mindless activity is impressive (Moore’s nauseatingly incessant shaky cam and whip pans and zooms aside), the lack of attention to the script is not. While this hollow but bombastic sequel cowers in the grand shadow of the original, and even the first two sequels, it brings the family theme back on track as the two men (cheesily) bond during all the carnage.

If you were to look deeper into the path this series has taken, one might be greatly troubled that McClane’s daughter Lucy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, in an obligatory book ending appearance here) was the victim in part four, yet his son is a world saving hero in part five. But we are clearly not supposed to think that hard about it. It is a shame the series has descended to this point. My advice to 20th Century Fox would be to quit now while it only has one foot in the grave and not both. But if you are willing to have a laugh at the indestructible McClane hanging from the bumper of a car that is chained to a flying helicopter, you might get your money’s worth.

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