A Good Day to Die Hard
Time to Retire?

Detective John McClane’s world is ever-expanding.  After first being trapped in an office building, he was then granted an entire airport to roam and destroy, followed by the entirety of New York City, and then most of the Eastern Seaboard.  Now in his fifth cinematic outing, A Good Day to Die Hard, he is thrown into an entirely different country… much to the chagrin of innocent Russian motorists who are about to find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.

After learning of his son’s arrest in Moscow, McClane travels halfway around the world with the intention of saving young Jack.  What John Sr. doesn’t know is that his son is actually a government agent who has gone deep undercover in an attempt to secure a high-profile political prisoner.  All is going well for Junior until his Dad shows up determined to take him home.  The delay causes him to miss his window for extraction, leaving Jack, John, and the target to fend for themselves against a seemingly endless onslaught of bad guys.

Willis as McClane in A Good Day to Die HardOverpowered and outgunned, father and son are soon not only fighting for their own lives, but also the fates of billions of people around the world who could suffer if some very dangerous weapons fall into the hands of some very dangerous bad guys.  Yippee-ki-yay.

After four very good action movies, it was probably inevitable that the Die Hard franchise would eventually suffer a stinker and that is unfortunately the case with A Good Day to Die Hard.  A few—a very few—moments of exciting action cannot make up for the fact that this movie has a lame, recycled script that’s poorly put together, featuring some very uninteresting characters.  John McClane was always a reluctant hero, but in this movie he’s also a reluctant character and Bruce Willis often looks like he’s just tired of the whole thing.  He also spends the entire movie complaining that he is “on vacation”, which is strange considering that he didn’t go over there to see the sights or roam the countryside, but rather to save his son.

For the third straight movie in the series, Willis is given a partner.  Unfortunately, Jai Courtney as young Jack McClane is as dull as they come; a far cry from the entertaining personalities brought to life by Samuel L. Jackson and Justin Long in the previous two entries.  The father-son moments between the two McClanes are cheesy and forced, while Jack’s determination to call his father by his first name is annoying since we just went through this with his daughter Lucy in the last movie (we get it, he was a bad dad). Mary Elizabeth Winstead does return as Lucy in a role that is brief, but is just long enough to show us that she was definitely the sibling who inherited the personality genes.

As far as personalities go, the bad guys are lacking in them, too.  That’s not necessarily a deal killer.  After all, Timothy Olyphant didn’t bring much personality to his role in the last movie, but he still made for a pretty good villain.  The real problem here is that the movie tries too hard to have a charismatic bad guy.  If you’re going to have your heavy tap dance, you better make sure he’s played by somebody like Christopher Walken or Malcolm McDowell.

This is also the shortest movie in the Die Hard series, which is fine, but it often felt as if too much was left on the cutting room floor.  For instance, there are moments when characters are in one place wearing a certain costume and then just a couple of shots later they are in a completely different place wearing something else.  How did they get there?  There’s also a shot of a bomb going off in a place where there are no people, then suddenly the movie cuts to John McClane lying on the ground surrounded by rubble.  Shouldn’t there be a shot of him getting knocked down by the blast?  Director John Moore also gets a little too slow-motion happy in the film’s final act causing some definite guffaws from the audience.

There are some brief flashes of entertaining action, usually involving incredibly over-the-top vehicle stunts, but for the most part A Good Day to Die Hard just disappoints on all levels.  Even though Bruce Willis has shown that he can still be an action star, it might be time for his signature character to retire and collect that gold watch.  Then maybe he can spend some more time with his kids and they’ll start calling him Dad again.

A Good Day to Die Hard is rated R for “violence and language.”  Yes, there’s plenty of each.

Courtesy of a local publicist, Jeff attended a promotional screening of A Good Day to Die Hard.