A review of A Good Day To Die Hard
Since Bruce Willis sympathised with a TV Dinner in John McTiernan’s 1988 Action Classic Die Hard, the franchise has grown and grown, with each instalment becoming more ridiculously bombastic. That said, the series has been very reliable, Die Hard 2 is forgettable but fun, Die Hard with a Vengeance is underrated as hell and Die Hard 4.0 is very ridiculous but very entertaining. So arrives part five and while it is an alternative option for Valentine’s Day that will pass 98 minutes nicely, for this franchise it doesn’t feel enough.
Bruce Willis returns as the tough-as-a-rock-star’s-liver cop and, even as he nears 60, Willis feels damn fine in the job. Jai Courtney also handles the action well, as Jack McClaine, as he showed he could in last year’s Jack Reacher and whilst the father/son interplay between he and Willis is a bit off, there is a genuine attachment there. The problem is that the expected one-liners and putdowns are absent. In fact most of Willis’s dialogue involves him shouting his son’s name and saying “Jesus” a lot. As well as this, the McClaines are met with no real opposition to conquer. There are perils, dangers and explosions but none feel dangerous enough and even when they are it ends up that helicopters and cars are bigger villains than any real characters. A particular low light is Radivoje Bukvić’s tap-dancing cliché bad guy and even when twists reveal the real bad guys, you see it coming.
So the actors don’t have much in way of script to excel with and the plotting feels very forgettable and unmotivated too. Still, there is fun to be had with the set pieces and the action, in spite of John Moore’s frantic editing and slightly shaky camerawork. The early car chase offers some thrills and a helicopter assault is ridiculously fun. In fact, in many ways this fifth film in the franchise is not as awful as early feedback has stated. There is the odd funny line of dialogue, the two leads are watchable, the action is good and Marco Beltrami’s score is sufficient. The issue is that A Good Day To Die Hard brings not enough to the table for a film belonging to this series and the 12A rating takes an edge away too.
Inevitably after five films, something has to give. This sequel offers up a few thrills but fails to remain in the memory, it is all just paint-by-numbers and average stuff really. For Die Hard fans this is going to feel like a letdown and for the average cinemagoer there are better action/thrillers out there. A Good Day To Die Hard just has the feeling of an average film that feels distant to the others in the franchise and in spite of some fun and good action, everything done here, has been done better in any prior instalment.
- Willis is always watchable, both he and Courtney handle the action, the set pieces are good.
- The villains are awful, the plot feels a bit pointless and the film as a whole is unmemorable next to the rest of the series.