A Good Day to Die Hard Really Does Almost Die, Hard

A Good Day to Die Hard Theatrical Poster

A Good Day to Die Hard Theatrical Poster

TitleA Good Day to Die Hard
Genre(s)Action, Crime, Thriller
Director(s)John Moore
Release Year2013
Rotten Tomatoes10%

My relationship with the Die Hard franchise is something that I cherish greatly. The first three films are some of my favourite action films ever (yes, including the widely ridiculed Die Hard 2: Die Harder), and when it comes to Live Free or Die Hard, I recognize it as an inferior film, but it still holds true to the franchise while upping the ante. So it’s no surprise that I had no problem getting back into the theater to watch a fifth entry into the series, this time bringing John McClane (Bruce Willis) overseas to help out his son Jack. However, when it comes to A Good Day to Die Hard, there’s little here to satisfy the fans of the original films, as the brains of the franchise get reduced down to barrages of CG and special effects, some poorly filmed action sequences, and a complete disregard for plot points. Whereas every other film made sense in its own little way (maybe Live Free or Die Hard walks back and forth over that line), A Good Day to Die Hard doesn’t make itself feel like a Die Hard film, except by means of having John McClane delivering one-liners and bringing trouble unto himself.

The story in A Good Day to Die Hard is fairly straightforward: Jack McClane (Jai Courtney) is a CIA operative trying to stop nuclear weapons from being brought into the wrong hands. John travels to Moscow, Russia where Jack is said to be on trial for murder, only to end up helping his son finish his mission and save the world. Simple enough, though the movie does try to confuse you constantly by switching up the bad guys, but fans of the series for reasons beyond action are not going to be confused at all. Unless of course, they take note of the glaring plot holes that will cause frustration to no end. Now, they aren’t Prometheus-level bad, but they get to a point where even though the movie is intended to be an over-the-top action vehicle, it starts getting in the way of enjoying the film. There’s even a scene that feels ripped right out of Prometheus as the bad guys declare it’s okay to take off their hazmat suits because there’s no uranium radiation – in one specific area of a room, that was sealed shut, and also right next to a spot where there was tons of uranium radiation. Oh, and how about not even wearing a hazmat suit when everyone else around you is? Sorry, that’s pretty much the point when I lost it and just tried turning my brain off as quickly as possible.

Oh, and guess what guys? It looks like they're setting up Courtney to be able to continue the series alone.

Oh, and guess what guys? It looks like they’re setting up Courtney to be able to continue the series alone.

Unfortunately though, those are only a couple of problems in a movie littered with them. But let’s highlight some decent aspects of the film: the action. There are some good action scenes here, that definitely deserves to be seen on the big screen, especially because they tread the ridiculous in many regards. Some beats make sense, while others, not so much. The action scenes in A Good Day to Die Hard get confusing at times, as even with an R-rating, the movie doesn’t go that far into it, at least on the violence side. It’s primarily a lot of wear and tear, which is expected since the movie really is just one long action scene that doesn’t let up, even if letting up might have benefited the film greatly. There’s a lot of jumping blindly through windows that are several stories off the ground, something that John McClane would never do. Not when the stairs are just as viable an option, even if it would require an extra little bit of work.

That’s why this film feels more like a betrayal to the Die Hard franchise than any other film before it. Instead of feeling like McClane is the everyday man who has stumbled into the forefront of the action, forced to think on his feet but always appearing frightened, yet calm, McClane becomes more of this mythological badass that can’t be hurt from crashing through story after story of hard surface. He’s picking up a gun out of nowhere and killing everyone. He’s being magically cut out of rope when it’s clear to the audience he doesn’t have a knife in his hands at all, nor the time to be cut out from his fellow prisoner. McClane isn’t a badass that right out the gate does heroic things. He’s the guy who does a few minor heroic things before being forced into a massive task that might risk his life, but also save someone else’s. Some of these moments in A Good Day to Die Hard are achieved, but a lot of them feel more inexplicable than the one that comes before it.

Remember this revealing scene from the trailer? Yeah, not in the film. Just like a lot from that trailer.

Remember this revealing scene from the trailer? Yeah, not in the film. Just like a lot from that trailer.

The acting in here is fine though, and I really felt like Jai Courtney could be McClane’s son. The movie kept trying to force bonding moments into the picture, but it doesn’t matter how much they try, it’s the actor that sells it most. There were some character moments that were very “un-McClane” and more savage than anything, but it is obvious how much the film wants you to believe the two are related. No surprise as well though, but Bruce Willis can still feel like an action star if he didn’t make that clear in last year’s Looper, though it does feel like he has to keep proving himself with each new movie. It really wouldn’t baffle me if the film gets another sequel as it will probably make lots of money both domestically and internationally, just for being a Die Hard movie. However, A Good Day to Die Hard ends up feeling more and more comical as its run-time elapses, pushing the series further into generic action film territory, and less into one of the last great, smart action series.

Overall: Not Recommended


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