I’ve never known the pain caused by being jilted at the alter or failing a paternity test while trying to cement the parentage of a son… but, I HAVE seen A Good Day To Die Hard and as a Die Hard fan I’m certain it’s petty much the same feeling…
Too harsh? Oh buddy, I’m just getting started…
To say A Good Day To Die Hard is the worst Die Hard movie is doing this 101 minute assault on on your nerves a massive disservice as I truly believe that this film may well be the worse blockbuster sequel that’s ever been made. That’s right, it’s worse than the Matrix sequels, worse than the third Mummy movie and certainly worse than John McLane’s fourth outing; the silly but serviceable Live Free And Die Hard.
Replacing the various locations of a building, an airport, New York and… the Internet, I guess(?), AGDTDH dumps world weary New York detective into the middle of Russia for virtually no reason that I can see for a painfully generic and stunningly boring action plod that’s big on destruction but delivers a big fat zero on pulse pounding thrills – in fact my pulse remained so un-pounded for the duration of the movie I felt required to check it periodically just to make sure I actually hadn’t died half way through.
The plot, so thin you could pick a lock with it, revolves around John travelling abroad to deal with the problems his grown son John Jr. has gotten himself messed up in although it’s never truly explained why John thinks he can affect the outcome of a Russian murder case that his son is part of ON THE DAY OF HIS TRIAL. Luckily for all involved (except the dead ones) the court is bombed by gangsters hoping to assassinate a whistle blower who was hoping to expose corruption in high levels of government, but John Jr., revealed to actually be an undercover agent for the CIA (don’t look at me like that, I didn’t write the fucking thing) is striving to keep him alive with the promice of a mysterious file that will blow everything wide open. After missing his extraction time thanks to the interference of his estranged father and after both get involved in a massive car chase that must have left easily dozens of innocent motorists dead as shit, the bickering father and son team up to take on the thugs hired by a corrupt member of parliament to take down the man under their protection.
After a succession of action scenes that look hideously expensive but end up all being as exciting as watching a snail attempt the 1500 meters in real time, John and his son bond over their shared intrest of mowing down endless goons with machine fire and attempt to weather a brief attempt of poorly planned plot twists and after a while feels less like we’re watching a Die Hard movie and more like we’ve fallen through a worm hole into a far shittier dimension and we’re watching Stop, Or My Dad Will Shoot! instead.
Finally the father and son duo head off to Chernobyl (which the movie claims to be a short, 40 minute jaunt when actually it would take about 12 hours – precisely how long watching the film feels…) to end the villainous plot which doesn’t actually concern them for a final showdown that sees a man in his late fifties dangling from a CGI helicopter.
A film so awful, I turned to my wife 20 minutes into the film and apologised for dragging her along to watch it (true story), there’s so much wrong with A Good Day To Die Hard it’s actually difficult to know quite where to start: do I go with Bruce Willis’ palpable apathy that enimates from the screen in a steady pulse of disinterest that’s as catching as a yawn? Or how about Hollywood’s short lived obsession with cramming Jai Courtney down our throats by sticking him in prominent roles in action franchises (obviously no one learned their lesson as he also cropped up in the similarly awful Terminator: Genisys)? Maybe I should lead with the bewilderingly awful direction of John Moore who insists on having the camera jiggle around so much, you’d bet cold hard cash the camera’s being operated by a meth addict going cold turkey – but then again, if you hire the man who made Max Payne to direct your Die Hard movie, this is exactly what you should expect…
Pretty much every aspect of the film is busted and the spectre of behind the scenes tinkering rears it’s head on multiple counts; take for example the appearance of Mary Elizabeth Winstead reprising her role as Lucy McClane – and then consider the confusing NON-appearance of her in the “Extended Cut” on Blu Ray… you put in extra head shots and blood spray but you remove an important side character from the whole movie altogether?
This illogical choice is pretty indicative of everything about the film and seems to think that all you need to make a Die Hard movie is just having Bruce Willis turn up regardless of what mood he’s in (in that case, The Last Boy Scout is by default and a far better one than this) and all the witty and heartfelt characterization the original was known and beloved for has evaporated like gun smoke.
The action is basic; numerous times Bruce is simply planted in the centre of the room, standing stock still while firing in a straight line as he screams something about being on vacation and the film also makes the unforgivable mistake of making McClane virtually invulnerable in a franchise that’s famous for making him bleed. In the titanic car chase that opens the movie John wipes out not once, but twice in huge, suspiciously fatal-looking crashes that send him and his vehicles he’s driving twirling into twisted wreckage only for him to stagger out completely unharmed – not bad considering he wasn’t even wearing a seatbelt… to say this is a world away from the series which contained McClain weeping while talking about his wife after plucking shards of glass out of his feet is an understatement the size of the Nakatomi Plaza.
When the smartest thing about your movie is the tag line (“Yippie-ki-yay Mother Russia” is simultaneously groan inducing and yet so awesome it could cure cancer) you know you’re in the deepest of shit.
So where next for Detective McClane?
Well, hopefully nowhere as this movie is all but a franchise killer and that’s a good thing. After all, the orginal will always remain evergreen as long as movies continue to exist and I honestly don’t think they could possibly drag out the progressively longer titles even if they tried. I mean, what could they called the next one? The Bigger They Are The Die Harder They Fall?
No, too on the nose?
In that case, allow me to present to you Is It Really So Die Hard To Make A Better Movie?
Yeah. That fits.