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3 reviews, 10 user ratings

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Good Day to Die Hard, A
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by Peter Sobczynski

1 stars

Over the years, I have seen more than my fair of crappy installments to film franchises that have gone on far too long for their own good and which now exist primarily on fumes and lingering audience fondness for the original movies that kicked off said series in the first place. And yet, despite having endured the likes of "Robocop 3," "Terminator 4" and far too many others to list here without too much lingering psychic damage, I still came away from "A Good Day to Die Hard," the fifth installment of the surprisingly durable "Die Hard" action series, feeling unspeakably disappointed and borderline depressed over what I had just seen.After all, this is not just the spawn of any ordinary action film. This is a descendant of "Die Hard," a film that literally revolutionized the genre when it debuted in the summer of 1988 and whose sequels, even in their most uneven moments (most of which were contained in the fairly lackluster 2007 entry "Live Free or Die Hard"), have usually maintained a certain level of quality. And yet, not only does this one fail to live up to the expectations set by its once-proud name, it plunges to the depths of "Superman IV," "Death Wish V" and other sorry sequels that now exist today largely as the least-played discs in Blu-Ray box sets.

Once again, Bruce Willis returns as two-fisted, quip-tossing everyman badass John McClane and as the story begins, he learns that his estranged son Jack (Jai Courtney) has been arrested in Moscow for gunning down someone in cold blood in a nightclub. Of course, we all know that McClane men only shoot people in the head for the noblest of reasons and it turns out that Jack, unbeknownst to John, is actually a CIA agent who committed the murder as part of an elaborate plan to break political prisoner Komarov (Sebastian Koch) and spirit him out of the country along with a secret file detailing the dirty secrets of his former partner, now one of Russia's richest and most powerful men. How dirty? So dirty that it turns out that the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl was the unfortunate result of one of their past antics. Anyway, McClane stumbles upon his son during the breakout attempt and inadvertently manages to screw up his escape with Komarov. As a result, McClane and his son are forced to join forces to get Komarov to safety while eluding half the Russian underworld, whose forces are led by tap-dancing brute Alik (Radivojen Bukvic) and large-breasted babe Irina (Yuliya Snigir), and preventing the theft of tons of long-forgotten nuclear material still sitting in Chernobyl.

The original "Die Hard" is generally considered to be one of the pinnacles of its genre--and an increasingly beloved Christmastime staple to boot--but its legions of fans will be hard-pressed to recognize any of the charms that made it so special and unique this time around. Instead of the likable and eminently human hero, one that hurt and bled, that stood as a rebuke to the monosyllabic hulks lie Stallone and Schwarzenegger that had dominated action films back in the day, John McClane has become a boringly invincible blowhard who bombs around the proceeding while yelling, screaming and generally acting like a jerk to everyone he encounters. Instead of the first film's wonderfully memorable villain, whose flamboyant nastiness made him a more-than-worthy adversary, we are subjected to an array of bland and completely forgettable dopes whose motivations are as unclear as their endgame and whose allegedly colorful touches, such as the killer who wanted to be a dancer and who inexplicably munches on carrots while issuing threats, are simply laughable. Instead of elaborate action set-pieces that have been designed and executed with style and flair, we get endless scenes of boring bombast that are indistinguishable from any other current over-the-top extravaganza in their lack of spatial coherence or plausibility.

The worst thing about "A Good Day to Die Hard" is that it is just so incredibly lazy--no one involved with its production seems to have put any effort into the proceedings. The screenplay by Skip Woods is so anonymously awful that I have a sneaky suspicion that it was originally conceived as its own separate project and was then hastily rejiggered into a "Die Hard" film at the last minute by changing some character names and adding the signature "Yippi-ki-yay" line. The plot makes no sense, the characters are thoroughly uninteresting and the notion of using Chernobyl not only as a plot point for a crappy action movie but the location for most of the final act is more than a little off-putting. Behind the camera, director John Moore (who seems to be Fox's go-to guy for projects that they can't find a real filmmaker to take on) goes through the motions in a manner that would redefine the word "perfunctory" if it weren't too lazy to bother. (Even at a surprisingly short 97 minutes, it still feels endless.) Returning to the role that made him a movie star 25 years ago, Bruce Willis turns in one of his least interesting performances to date--compared to this, his work on such films as "Hostage" and "Perfect Stranger" are models of commitment to the craft of acting by comparison. Meanwhile, as his son, Jai Courtney is such an annoying and unlikable pill from start to finish that he does the near-impossible--he makes one long for the quiet dignity and rugged charisma of Justin Long.

The last couple of months have not been particularly good for the action genre, particularly those representing the old guard--the Tom Cruise epic "Jack Reacher" was a box-office disappointment while both Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone both crapped out with their recent efforts (though the latter's "Bullet to the Head" was entirely undeserving of its fate). "A Good Day to Die Hard" will probably do better fare a little better than those from a commercial standpoint but it is unlikely that many of those who see it will come away from it feeling entertained--older viewers will be shocked by the decline in quality while younger audiences will come away from it wondering what all the fuss was about. I love the original film and have liked the previous sequels to one degree or another but all that this one does is prove that this is a franchise that has long since run its course--instead of blowing viewers through the back wall of the theater, it merely blows.

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originally posted: 02/13/13 18:57:11
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User Comments

8/25/14 KingNeutron Forgettable. I walked after 40 min- poorly done, not up to par with others in the series 1 stars
10/10/13 Jacob Montgomery Ugh. Completely misses the point of the Die Hard films. 1 stars
8/06/13 mr.mike Decent home vid rental. 3 stars
5/26/13 Philip Plenty of action but it doesn't feel like a Die Hard movie. 3 stars
4/21/13 Durwood Action movies are all the same these days--car crashes, guns, bombs, and the "f" word. 2 stars
3/03/13 Nicole Davis It was ok but I wished I had waited for it to come out on ondeman. 3 stars
2/25/13 Jeff Wilder The series low point. Time to retire John McClane. 2 stars
2/19/13 radium56 It was so bad and forgettable... Even IMAX could not help. If you love DH1, avoid this one. 1 stars
2/18/13 Waldemar Walas The worst Die Hard Movie 1 stars
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  14-Feb-2013 (R)
  DVD: 04-Jun-2013

  14-Feb-2013 (15)

  21-Mar-2013 (M)
  DVD: 04-Jun-2013

Directed by
  John Moore

Written by
  Skip Woods

  Bruce Willis
  Jai Courtney
  Cole Hauser
  Amaury Nolasco
  Megalyn Echikunwoke
  Sebastian Koch

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