Title: A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)
Director: John Moore
Cast: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Mary Elizabeth Winstead
John McTiernan’s Die Hard (1987) was a smash hit during the 80’s because it gave us John McClane, the regular everyday Joe who takes matters into his own hands and “makes up shit as he goes” in order to stop a group of terrorists that have taken a whole building hostage, on Christmas Eve no less. During that first film we meet a very vulnerable hero, a guy who suffers, who’s pain we feel, he doesn’t come off as superman. He’s not indestructible. Willis’s performance makes us believe he’s in danger, he’s scared, he’s hurt, but he gives it his all till the end. Too bad this latest installment, A Good Day to Die Hard has de-evolved the series into a childish action fantasy where nothing feels real and everything feels like a joke. This is Die Hard Today!
On this sequel, John McClane must travel to Russia in order to rescue his son (a CIA agent) who happens to be caught in the middle of a Russian political assassination plot. You see, a terrorist is trying to steal some uranium in order to sell it in the black market. It’s sad, but this is exactly the same plot we saw only a few months ago in The Expendables 2 (2012), so, as you can see, the lack of originality in Hollywood has grown to embarrassing levels. And with that I close the synopsis for this new film, it really isn’t more complicated than that.
The problem with me and this new John McClane is that you can see that smirk in Bruce Willis’s face, he isn’t even trying to live the role, to Willis himself, John McClane is just a joke, he’s just going through the motions. He doesn’t have that intensity he had in Die Hard (1987), but of course, the same intensity can’t be expected, after all, this is John McClane at 57 years of age and of course, wear and tear is bound to show up. Watching Willis play John McClane entering his late 50’s is the equivalent of seeing Harrison Ford playing Indiana Jones in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008). It just isn’t Indy anymore. Indy seemed tired, static when compared to his golden days in the Temple of Doom. The same can be said of McClane in A Good Day to Die Hard. It’s a more laid back John McClane, quieter, not as crazy. And so, we’ve entered into an era where aging action stars are trying to milk their franchises for all their worth before completely fading out, which in my opinion is exactly what should happen with these Die Hard movies, let McClane go while he still has some dignity in him; or at the very least give him some more balls to the wall crazy attitude, because in my opinion, on this one Bruce Willis was just winging it.
This doesn’t mean McClane doesn’t deliver his one liners with a vengeance and with as much speed as the bullets that whiz by, he just says them with less emotion. I’m guessing the reason why they introduce his son –Jack McClane- whom we’ve never even heard of, is because they want to pass the franchise over to him, so he takes over. Kind of the same thing they were aiming for when they introduced Shia LaBeouf in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystall Skull (2008), let Indy’s son take over the franchise. Problem for me with introducing John McClane’s son is that they didn’t make his character remotely memorable, they should have taken the opportunity to introduce to us a character that could maybe carry the franchise into future sequels, but Jack McClane simply fails to have any sort of charisma, which is something that film producers seem to be forgetting when making these movies: you’re supposed to give us characters with some charisma, it’s the reason why we loved Willis in Die Hard in the first place, here was a likable guy, one of us. Not so with this new Jack McClane guy; sadly, we are introduced to a generic action hero, sans a personality.
Now in terms of action these films have evolved. When compared to the first Die Hard, these new ones have decided to go into unrealistic territory bordering on freaking fantasy. Remember the action in Live Free or Die Hard (2007)? This one goes the same route. At least in Die Hard they aimed to make things believable within reason, yeah we were still watching a movie, but come one, at least the first film aimed to make us believe it! On this one, CGI John McClane takes over whenever Willis can’t handle the stunts, which is all the time . But I will say this; the destruction was ample and epic. I enjoyed the films chase sequence where McClane chases the bad guys on a jeep across the streets of Russia. Lots of destruction, lot’s of cars flying through the air, lots of explosions. It’s all in good fun but isn’t it funny how McClane wants’ to rescue his son yet in order to do so he drives his car over 50 civilian cars? This is what I find most ridiculous about the film! In order to rescue one guy, McClane destroys a couple million dollars worth of private property. I mean, he literally drives his jeep over a bunch of cars stuck in a traffic jam (with drivers inside of them) all while screaming “sorry!” And this is supposed to be the good guy! It’s funny because McClane is always talking about “killing some bad guys” throughout the entire flick, yet he doesn’t act that heroic himself. Even more hilarious is the fact that McClane isn’t even five minutes in Russia and he’s already stealing cars and destroying whole expressways. But what the thell, in the name of total devastation in an action movie, well, of course I was willing to let it slide, I was having fun.
So yeah, the movie is fast paced and entertaining, if only it had invested more time in giving us the John McClane we’ve known and loved from previous films…I mean, how hard can it really be to give us that old Die Hard magic again? How hard can it be to write a script with memorable characters and a story with some weight to it? Instead we get John McClane making fun of his old age and all that, apparently it’s the thing to do when you turn into an aging action star, just as Arnold and Stallone. Sadly, though entertaining and filled with lot’s of vehicular destruction, this movie left me feeling like they should just let the franchise die with some honor. This new Die Hard is a shadow of it's former glory. This isn’t John McClane, this is just a washed up version of him; I truly hope the series has died hard.
Rating: 3 ½ out of 5