The first in an on-going series of reviews of sequels, whether good or bad.
A Good Day To Die Hard (Review by Dan Aquino)
Director: John Moore
Starring: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch, Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Let me start my inaugural piece off by saying I love Die Hard. I love everything these movies have stood for, (bald men doing great things, all Europeans being terrorists, etc.) but lately this series has lost most of its luster. With the disappointment that was Live Free Or Die Hard I was hoping that maybe, just maybe, this new installment would bring John McClane back to his former glory. And like most things in my life, I was greatly let down by A Good Day To Die Hard.
The thing that kills me about this movie is that it had all the necessary requirements of a great Die Hard movie. If you consider yourself a Die Hard fan (pun absolutely intended) then you might know what some of those requirements are, namely having him out of his element, being hilariously outgunned, and being a more bad ass McGuyver. Everything is there; he’s in Russia fighting against a terrorist group with nothing but the clothes on his back and his wits to protect him. Then why the hell did this movie suck so bad? There’s just not enough time in the day, so I’ll do the best I can.
The movie centers around John McClane going to Russia to save his son Jack who turns out to be a CIA operative (spoiler alert!) who is tasked with retrieving a file that contains secret codes for Russian nukes. Upon saving his son, we find out that John might not have been the best father according to Jack, because as everyone knows saving your mother and sister on several occasions doesn’t mean shit if you’re not there for when your son receives his green belt in karate class. Now this is the first problem with the movie, family. Why on Gods good Earth does anyone care about whether or not McClane was a good father? No one wants to see one of our generations greatest action heroes hash out his feelings. If it didn’t work out in the last movie, what makes you think it would work out in this one people!?
We find out that the person Jack was looking for was a political prisoner named Yuri Typical Russian Last Nameski, and is the only person who knows where this file is. John and Jack set off to help him recover the file, and promise to reunite him and his daughter in exchange for his help. But we find out that the daughter has been in cahoots with the bad guys all along and captures her father and has both McClanes captured. And finally we get to what makes a Die Hard movie a goddamn Die Hard movie. John and Jack break out of their restraints and blow shit up. I’m talking about dodging helicopter bullets and jumping out of twenty story buildings in slow-motion, and just literally doing things that make Jesus bringing people back from the dead look like amateur hour. It’s at this point of the movie where I’m still undecided whether or not I like this film. It has most of the things a Die Hard film should have; cursing, explosions, foreign enemies. But there’s still something I can’t quite put my finger on.
So now the hunt is on for Yuri, with John and Jack heading to Chernobyl to kick some more asses and possibly survive a nuclear blast. Hey, if Harrison Ford can do it Bruce Willis should be able to do it too, and without a refrigerator to hide in. But all the while we’re delving deeper and deeper into the relationship between John and Jack. And that’s when it hits me. The reason I don’t really like this movie is because they’re taking away all the charm of John McClane. He isn’t saying many catchy one liners except for the fact that he wants us to know he’s supposed to be on vacation, which is the equivalent of “I’m getting too old for this shit.” He’s just not the same loveable fly in the ointment, pain in the ass cowboy I grew to love when I was a kid.
We soon find out that Yuri was in fact the bad guy and the whole being set up was in fact a set up. Yuri was actually looking for a vault that held weapons grade uranium and planned on selling it to the black market for his betrayal by the Russian government. Jack and John enter the vault without any radiation suits because fuck logic this is John McClane. They discover Yuri’s true plot and all hell breaks loose culminating in the final fight where we get to hear John utter those famous words: Yippe Ki-Yay Mr. Falcon. He doesn’t actually say that, but in my mind he did. Jack manages to dispatch Yuri (with a vengeance!) and John manages to survive being thrown from a helicopter through glass windows. You know, the usual stuff. The final scene of the film shows John bringing his son back to New York where they are greeted by the daughter Lucy McClane (or Gennero?) and they walk off into the sunset where they will film Die Hard 6: To Die, Or To Die Hard? That Is The Question.
While this certainly wasn’t the worst Die Hard movie, that honor goes to Live Free Or Die Hard, this one didn’t add fresh life to the series or the character. Seeing John worry too much about if he was a good dad and trying to make it up during the course of the film kind of made me not care for either of the characters. The son wasn’t a very useful character, and was more of a hindrance than a help to John during the entire movie except to show us that John wasn’t a very good family man. The villains were probably the worst in the franchise, having to charisma or depth like their predecessors. Most importantly, I wasn’t on the edge of my seat during any of the action sequences thinking to myself “how the hell is McClane going to get out of this pickle?”
With its relative success at the box office there will probably be another sequel. And while I’m sure Hollywood will figure something out for our favorite wrong time wrong place action hero, I’m hoping that they will finally bring back a one Sergeant Al Powel to help McClane get out of whatever mess he gets himself into.