A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD
*** (out of 5)
February 14, 2013
Bruce Willis as JOHN MCCLANE
Jai Courtney as JACK GENNARO
Sebastian Koch as KOMAROV
Mary Elizabeth Winstead as LUCY
Yuliya Snigir as IRINA
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Directed by: John Moore
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Long before it was released, I was annoyed with the new “Die Hard” movie.
Scratch that. I wasn’t annoyed at the film as much as I was annoyed at some people’s reaction to the buzz surrounding its release. After “Live Free or Die Hard” was given a PG-13 rating and had the infamous “Yippee-Kai-Yay” line sanitized, “Die Hard” fans have been impossible to deal with. The insistence that the film be rated R is a bit much. All I ask for is some fun action that a franchise like this deserves.
Then “A Good Day to Die Hard” was given an R rating, and the internet practically melted. A few weeks later, the early reviews started to roll in, and to no one’s surprise, the fanboys started hating on it. Like no one saw this coming.
Generally, when a film franchise reaches its fifth installment, I have lowered my bar of expectation. By this point, there’s no need for character development or such nonsense. The stakes have to be higher, and the stunts are expected to be bigger. Whatever real story that could be told with John McClane and his family has been chewed through in the first three movies already.
Still, this isn’t to say that “A Good Day to Die Hard” is a great film. It has some fun moments and cool action set pieces, but it’s still a fourth sequel. And if there’s one thing that die hard “Die Hard” fans can agree on it’s that no one agrees on which sequels are good and which are bad. I know people who loathe “Die Hard 2: Die Harder,” while I personally can’t stand the preaching and uncreative profanity of “Die Hard with a Vengeance.” Then there’s those that hate on “Live Free or Die Hard” because of the PG-13 rating and loss of the franchise’s soul.
I expect that “A Good Day to Die Hard” will face similar retrospectives. It’s got some major problems, mainly in the script, but also in the casting (Jai Courtney is a low-rent Sam Worthington, who isn’t much to write home about in the first place) and pacing. There’s a certain something lacking in this film that doesn’t tie the action moments together very well.
The film also suffers from some clunky afterthought ADR in cheap attempts at humor. But what’s causing most people to complain is the over-the-top, unrealistic action. It’s the same “nuking the fridge” complaints that people had with “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” However, what people seemed to forget in 2008 was that Indiana Jones parachutes out of an airplane with a life raft in the second film. Similarly, people seem to forget that John McClane jumps off the roof of a building tied to a fire hose in the original “Die Hard.”
These movies have never been a source of reality for anyone, and no amount of bleeding by John McClane would help it, so you can stop that argument right there.
The plot is pretty much unimportant in “A Good Day to Die Hard,” evidenced by the fact that I’m almost at the end of this review and haven’t even mentioned it. In short, McClane travels to Russia to help his son out of prison, then gets caught up in a battle between the CIA and Russian terrorists.
Like I said: none of this really matters. In the end, “A Good Day to Die Hard” is ridiculous and over-the-top. However, I can’t say I wasn’t entertained with it. I laughed at quite a few appropriate moments, and I really did enjoy watching the standalone action moments. It was exactly what I expected from a fifth installment of a 25-year-old franchise that was released in February when all the other films dropped in the summer.
I’m not ready to declare “A Good Day to Die Hard” the worst of the bunch, but it’s not on the high end of the spectrum. Still, with that said, I’d watch it again and probably enjoy the hell out of it.