MOVIE REVIEW: A Good Day to Die Hard (Die Hard 5)

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John McClane has run out of bits of America to blow up, so flies to Russia to rescue and reconnect with his estranged son…and naturally gets caught up in some explosive shenanigans. Is this a good day to Die Hard, or a good day to quit?

a-good-day-to-die-hard-5-final-posterA GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD

John Moore – Director

Bruce Willis -John McClane
Jai Courtney – Jack McClane
Sebastian Kock – Komarov

It has been 25 years since John McClane encountered Hans Gruber and his high-rise band of thieves masquerading as terrorists, and 25 years since action movies were changed forever. For years “Die Hard on a…” was a way to describe action movies. Die Hard On A Boat, is Under Siege; On a plane, Passenger 57; In a school, is Toy Soldiers; On a mountain, Cliffhanger; On a lift/bus/train, is Speed. Then Die Hard With A Vengance came along, kicked ass, but changed what Die Hard is. Unfortunately, A Good Day To Die Hard models itself more on the third instalment rather than the superior original. As a result, this is basically a generic action movie, masquerading as a Die Hard movie.

FALLS SHORT OF EXPECTATIONS

The “story”, such as it is, rips along…and that’s not necessarily a good thing. Things just happen, lurching the story from moment to moment, mainly just to get to the next explosion. There’s not really any drama either, or character development for that matter. John and his son start off at logger heads, and end up a happily bonded pair, but aside from Jack over-hearing a conversation there’s no real reason given for this development. There are some “twists” in the story, which are unsurprising but reasonably effective. The final act development, which leads to the location of the climax, is pretty cool.

The acting isn’t great either, most notably from the lead. Bruce doesn’t seem terribly engaged, and seems content simply to be Bruce Willis, and is no longer trying to breathe any fresh life in to John McClane. The Baddie is actually pretty good…even if there are inconsistencies and plot holes in his story. Jai Courtney is the best thing in the movie. He is quite funny, and charming, and handles the action effortlessly (as he demonstrated in Jack Reacher). Had this been a better movie he would probably shine even brighter.

A GOOD DAY DOESN’T TRY HARD

Ultimately, the failings of this movie fall at the feet of the creative side. The script is pretty bad. This is written by Skip Woods, whose previous credits include Swordfish (meh), Hitman (pants), the Wolverine movie (saggy pants), and the A-Team movie (surprisingly fun). Some lines and quips are kinda funny, and there a few laugh out loud moments…but there are more moments of unintended hilarity that over-shadow the intended ones. And directing is by Irishman John Moore, whose best movies to date are remakes, Flight Of The Phoenix and the pointless and disappointing Omen.

The movie looks okay, with some energetic camerawork, and the action is adequate. The car chase is crazy, with a ridiculous amount of collateral damage. It seems as though it was achieved practically, without leaning too heavily on CG, a failing of the previous instalment. The set pieces in general are pretty good, feature helicopters and are incredibly loud. Simply put, stuff blows up real nice, and that’s about it.

BOTTOM LINE: VERY VERY FLAWED, BUT SLIGHTLY FUN

So…here’s the thing, a movie doesn’t need to be good to be fun. This movie isn’t particularly good, yet despite all the above issues is still rather enjoyable. There are many problems with it, foremost of which is that it doesn’t really feel like a Die Hard movie. It’s an adequate generic action film, featuring Bruce/McClane. But, depending on your mood, it could feel a bit better or considerably worse.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

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