To say “A Good Day to Die Hard” is the worst of the series doesn’t give its unique level of awfulness justice. That’s largely because the franchise hasn’t had a stinker up to this point, but this is certainly the “Rocky V” of the beloved Bruce Willis franchise and it reeks.
It’s a silly, brain-check at the door action film, but it completely betrays the franchise’s overarching theme. That of one man, John McClane (Willis, “The Expendables 2“) battling and overcoming impossible odds because he’s too stubborn to quit and replaces it with the same crappy formula that made people loath “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” by saddling our admittedly aging protagonist with a presumed successor in an adventure so concerned with passing the torch that our hero is merely a spectator.
McClane flies to Russia to aid his son, Jack (Jai Courtney, “Jack Reacher”), gets arrested for a nightclub shootout. McClane doesn’t know that Jack is a CIA agent who wanted to get caught so he could get close to fellow prisoner, Komarov (Sebastian Koch), a brilliant researcher who has some mysterious files the CIA wants in their possession.Assuming he can stay ahead of Komarov’s pursuers, the goofy Alik (Radivoje Bukvic) and the sexy brains of the operation, Irina (Yuliya Snigir)
Screenwriter Skip Woods has had an inconsistent resume so far from his under-appreciated work on “The A-Team” to the wretched “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.” This script marks a major drop in his roller-coaster career.
Woods writes a generic action film and drops Willis’ McClane into it. There’ll be some who will forgive the ludicrous action scenes and goofy plot simply because Willis spouts off a few one-liners but this is just a “Die Hard” movie in name and McClane appearance only. Woods’ script has little of the series trademark humor and the “Yippee-Ki-Yay” catchphrase line seems tacked on out of obligation, not to capture the flavor of the films that preceded it.
This is the first installment in the series where it looked like Willis is simply going through the motions. It’s hard to blame him as I wouldn’t want to give my all for this mess either. Courtney isn’t bad, but Jack is so McClane-lite that he can only do but so much.
Once upon a time, John Moore was capable at best of directing decent action films “Behind Enemy Lines” and “Flight of the Phoenix,” but he rightfully had been banished after the dreadful “Max Payne” in 2008. I’m curious who invited him back, but I’m more concerned with making sure it’s at least another five years before he directs another film.
Moore runs out of directorial tricks after the first big action scene — a seemingly endless truck chase — before simplifying things by just having McClane and Jack mirror each other walking side by side guns blazing and casually sidestepping bullets. Woods and Moore both fail to get that McClane doing all this crazy stuff is fun because he’s the only one crazy enough to do it, but having Jack keep up step for step without batting an eye ruins the impact.
Under Moore’s “guidance” there’s never that series’ trademark “I can’t believe that just happened” moment. For me, the only thing I couldn’t believe was how Moore and Woods nearly managed to do what Hans Gruber and an army of bad guys couldn’t — killing off John McClane and a once mighty franchise — with a terribly uninspired effort.
If you’re a fan of the series, don’t come anywhere near this one.
Rating: 2 out of 10