A Good Day to Die Hard

A few days late reviewing this but I had enough to say that I figure I might as well still throw something up here. So hey a new Die Hard movie came out! It’s called A Good Day To Die Hard and nobody really likes it! I still had faith going in, since I’ve enjoyed plenty of movies others haven’t, and many of the negative reviews summarized this as being “just as shitty as Live Free or Die Hard” a movie I really like. So I had hope! It perhaps paid off because I didn’t hate the movie...but I’m not certain I really enjoyed it either.

A Good Day to Die Hard wastes no time getting going, with McClane reintroduced and sent off to Russia all in about the first 5 minutes. He goes there to see his son Jack, who has been arrested. There’s a nice moment early on where his daughter Lucy drops him off at the airport, showing that they still have a healthy relationship following the last movie. There’s also a very Die Hard-esque scene when John lands in Russia and is being driven by a singing cab driver. Things started out looking pretty promising actually. Not long after we’re taken into our first big action sequence of the movie - a car chase between John, his son, and the bad guys. This is where the problems begin.

For starter’s, the reason for even having this chase is questionable. John steals a truck and drives off after his son, smashing everything in site even though he has no real clue what the situation is. Even if his motivation were clear though, the sequence itself is shot in that shitty quick cut, shaky cam fashion that needs to die (hard preferably) before the action genre is a complete write-off. It’s impossible to tell what is happening or who is even driving the cars you’re looking at. Also make a drinking game out of how many times it cuts to John inside the car yelling “Jesus!” You may die. It’s especially tragic because this scene seems like it would be awesome if the camera would stay fucking still and let us watch. There are lots of practical explosions and car crashes that it seems strange to spend money on if you don’t want to clearly show it to us.

From this scene onwards, the entire movie is essentially one extended action sequence. It slows down a couple of times for some exposition or character beats, but usually guns are being fired and windows are being jumped through. It should be exhilarating but in reality it’s kind of exhausting. These scenes are better shot than the earlier car chase, but eventually you become numb to the loud bangs and explosions. It’s entertaining on a base level, but Die Hard should be way more than that.

The story is ridiculously thin. Essentially the bad guys want a file. That’s it. There are no hostages or global threats or anything like that. They just really want to get this file. You never feel as though there is much at stake and you certainly never feel like the heroes are ever in anything resembling danger. Once John survives a car crash that would mangle or kill a human being without so much as a scratch (which is far from the most ridiculous thing he goes through), then you know he’s even more super human than in the previous film. Sometimes it can be fun to watch untouchable hero mow throw a bunch of bad guys with little to no resistance, but not Die Hard man. Come on guys, you’re better than this.

The movie is back to being rated R after the PG-13 fourth installment, but it never feels like it was filmed to have that rating from the beginning. Live Free or Die Hard was given an unrated cut on DVD that featured CGI blood and swearing that felt almost entirely added in postproduction. This is how Live Free or Die Hard feels as well. There’s only one bit of blood that stands out and most of the swearing feels like it was added in a studio months after shooting. You do get a “Yippee-kay-yay Motherfucker” but it comes at random and I could see people missing it completely. Plus that whole bit has been ruined once somebody pointed out that within the fiction of the movies, McClane has no reason to keep saying that line except because he knows he should.

Bruce Willis is still good in the role, and he at least doesn’t seem to be phoning it in as he has been known to do in recent years. His one-liners are more miss than hit, with the line “I’m on fucking vacation!” yelled at least four times. This is made worse by the fact that no, no you are not. Did the editors forget how the movie started? I just sat here for a while trying to come up with a memorable one liner and was not able to so, there you go.

Jai Courtney is fine as Jack McClane but bland and the arc these two go through is non-existent. “I hate you!” “You know what, we’re good”. That’s about it. It was interesting that John openly mocks his son when he’s hurt instead of actually giving a shit. Not sure it would have worked better the other way. Oh and don’t get your hopes up for memorable bad guys, because with the exception of one scene, you won’t find that here.

If A Good Day to Die Hard were just some generic Bruce Willis actioner called “Bullet Fire” or whatever, it would be passable. It’s never boring and there are some decent action bits. Unfortunately it carries the Die Hard name and it suffers for it. Audiences have a certain expectations with a Die Hard movie and this one lives up to practically none of them. Many people have said they don’t want a sixth movie (which Willis has hinted at) because this one was so bad, but I disagree. I think we need a sixth one because I can’t accept that this is the movie the franchise goes out on.

Also I just realized something. When the movie came out, theatres were holding Die Hard marathons where you could watch the previous four movies and then the evening would conclude with this one. Can you imagine how much worse that would make this movie?!

Final thought – someone online said that the next one should be called Old Habits, Die Hard and feature characters from the previous movies such as Zeus and Argyle. Holy shit Hollywood, I really hope you’re paying attention. Make that movie!