A Good Day to Die Hard-attachment0

A Good Day to Die Hard

Movie Information

The Story: When his son is arrested in Russia, John McClane goes to see what's afoot and ends up involved in massive mayhem. The Lowdown: It has Bruce Willis in his best remembered role. It has an R rating. It has car chases and shooting and explosions. It's also pretty awful.
Genre: Action
Director: John Moore (Max Payne)
Starring: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Yuliya Snigir, Cole Hauser
Rated: R

The fact that A Good Day to Die Hard returns the Die Hard series to its R-rated roots — thereby allowing the use of “Yippee ki-yay, motherfucker” — and the fact that it looks like it’s bound to make a decent chunk of money doesn’t change the fact that this latest entry is pretty dire. And I’m being kind. This thing runs 97 minutes. After about 20 of those minutes, I was asking, “Is this almost over?” (I knew it wasn’t, but hope springs eternal and all that.)  It’s the sort of film that may please those whose only requirement is that Bruce Willis is on screen, or those who only care if “shit blows up real neat.” Otherwise, this is one tedious mess of a movie (and a noisy one at that). It manages to have only the barest of plots, yet somehow makes even that incoherent and undeveloped. As if that weren’t enough, there’s the casting.

Well, there’s Bruce Willis. After that, the most recognizable faces are Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Cole Hauser (Cole Hauser????). Some beefcake du jour named Jai Courtney — and his large and sinewy muscles — more or less co-stars as Willis’ son, Jack McClane (or John McClane, Jr.). I apparently saw him in Jack Reacher, but he made no lasting impression. And any effect he has here, I will have likely forgotten before this review sees print. (I might remember, however, every time I see his first name that I think his last name should be “Guru Deva.”) That’s more than I can say about the rest of the cast, especially the bad guys who, come to think of it,  are pretty much the rest of the cast. Oh, I’ll remember Sebastian Koch — from Black Book and The Lives of Others (both 2006), but not for this. In fairness to these folks, it’s not like the script by Skip Woods (The A-Team, X-Men Origins: Wolverine) gives them anything memorable to do.

Here’s the pitch: John McClane (Willis) learns that son Jack (Jai Guru Deva) is in jail in Russia, so he ambles his way over there — after being warned by his daughter (Winstead) not to make a mess of things — to…well, if the film has any idea what he’s planning, it keeps it to itself. But, it hardly matters. Soon, things are exploding, cars are zooming around, papa McClane ends up in the middle of it, people are shooting at each other, billions of rubles in property damage occur and what passes for one-liners are being spouted. None of it makes much sense — except for the idea that Jack is in the CIA and is trying to rescue political prisoner Komarov (Koch) — and nothing that happens subsequently really straightens out exactly who is doing what to whom and why. The theory seems to be that all that matters is that there are bad guys to be shot by our heroes and bad guys shooting back at our heroes. There are double-crosses and triple-crosses, more property damage, a preposterous climax at Chernobyl, and a peculiar lack of apparent interest in any of this by the Russian government. There’s also a seemingly interminable slow-motion final shot of McClane, son Jack and daughter Lucy walking, bathed in the golden rays of a sunrise (or maybe a sunset). Why? Beats me.

Yes, the film will deliver the catch-phrase (eventually), but the trailer’s promise of a nod to the original film with some big set-piece using the famous “Ode to Joy” from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is unfulfilled. That may be just as well since the direction by John Moore is about what you’d expect from the guy who made Max Payne (2006). His only idea of style here is to film the early scenes with a lot of zoom shots, making the movie look briefly like a 1960s action film. Why? That, too, beats me. Any of the earlier films would be a better choice. Rated R for violence and language.

Playing at Carolina Asheville Cinema 14, Co-ed of Brevard, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Square, United Artists Beauctcher Cinema 7


About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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8 thoughts on “A Good Day to Die Hard

  1. Edwin Arnaudin

    Yes, the film will deliver the catch-phrase (eventually)

    All but whispered…

  2. luluthebeast

    Lousy bad guys, lousy supporting characters, lousy writing. Oh, and dumb CGI.

  3. DrSerizawa

    Ken, you were far too kind. This thing stank to high heaven.

  4. Orbit DVD

    I think there is a full star sitting there that you could have taken away.

  5. Ken Hanke

    I think the difference is that I never expected it to be good.

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