07 March 2013

Movie Review: A Good Day To Die Hard by John Moore

Title: A Good Day To Die Hard
Director(s): John Moore
Genre(s): Action, Crime, Thriller
Rating: R
Release Date (USA): February 14, 2013
"Ah, no! No, no, no! You're not gonna open up to me before we die! That's not your thing, John!" - John McClane Jr.
Just when you thought McClane had yippee-ki-yay'd his way out of police work, he manages to battle his way back from retirement, only this time his problems are a bit more international. After traveling to Moscow to help his wayward son, Jack (Jai Courtney), John winds up knee deep in a nuclear weapons heist. It's up to the two McClanes to put aside their differences and prevent a global outbreak of war. Add in Russian politicos, the underground crime scene and a dash of Chernobyl and you've got yourself quite the awesomely bad vacation.

A Good Day To Die Hard is one of those awesomely bad action movies that's a mix of old school heroics and modern day technologies. But before I get into my review let me start by saying, this movie is really made for die hard fans of the Die Hard series. While it might be passable for something produced in the late 80's/early 90's, it would never fly past today's high standards. You really need to go into the movie with low/no expectations in order to come out satisfied because, in a word, it's ridiculous. I feel like each Die Hard movie is a little more over-the-top than its predecessor and now that we're on the 5th one, you can only imagine what that might entail. Exploding helicopters, massive car/tank chases through the busy streets of Moscow and expertly orchestrated prison breaks. You know, just a normal days work for the McClane family.

Bruce Willis delivers all the iconic McClane lines and executes them with his trademarked squint and snarky attitude. And for a man of 57, you have to appreciate how he can still kick some serious ass. He embodies everything we come to expect from John McClane: the stubbornness, sarcasm and a take-charge now ask questions later method. What was lacking though was the father-son dynamic between him and Jack. Their relationship is anything but engaging and borders on frustratingly repetitive and hollow. I liked Jai Courtney well enough for an action guy but I just wasn't buying him as McClane Jr. Their relationship fluctuates between stony and warm fuzzies with little progression in between.

As far as the cinematography goes, Moore had a more artistic vision in this film with slow-mo sequencing and well-framed shots, but I felt like for this type of movie, it didn't really work. Often it felt out of place, unnecessary and, at times, comical. I'm sorry but I'm there f or the action, not the art direction. What really worked in this movie, though, was the location. The change in scenery felt fresh and interesting. Sure, some of the old Russian communism "us versus them" mentality remains, but it works for all intensive purposes. I felt like they were able to get away with a lot of the outrageous action specifically because of the setting. It was in, no way, believable but I don't think it should be. All in all, A Good Day To Die Hard isn't the best action movie I've seen, but it's not the worst either. It hits all the marks of the traditional Die Hard film with all the cheesetastic, explosive, wry action that you could want. If you're looking for awesomely bad, then you've found it. Let's just hope that the franchise follows fast in McClane's footsteps and considers a long, hard retirement.

Summary Prognosis
While nowhere as perfect as the original, A Good Day To Die Hard contains all the elements essential to make it a decent addition to the high-octane Die Hard saga. It's got a ridiculous plot, over-the-top action sequences, cheesy one-liners and a whole lot of yippee-ki-yaying which are essential to keep the 80's actiony feel. And while I did get a kick out of the movie, I can only hope that this was the end of an era and they let John McClane's adventures stop here. Because this series needs a good way to die hard and this movie is it.

Rating: ★★½ 

Watch It: Amazon
Discuss It: IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes
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  1. Being a Die Hard fan myself my husband and I went to see this movie the weekend it came out. I enjoyed it but it wasn't as good as the earlier movies in the series. I did however enjoy Bruce Willis as John McClane just as much as I always do. There was just something missing between him and his son. I'm not sure there was the best on screen chemistry there.

    I'm kind of like you and hope they end the series now. I thought the last one was really really good and I would have been satisfied if that one would have been the end.

    1. I agree, Kay! I was perfectly pleased with the way they ended things in the last Die Hard movie and would've been find had they chosen to stop the series there. But you know Hollywood... gotta drain it for every drop its worth!

      And yes, I think there was definitely something missing between MClane and his son. I just wasn't buying their relationship. It flucuated between warmth and tension too easily and too often. Ah, well. I guess we don't watch those movies for the relationships! It's all about the action!

  2. I don't know Nikki, seeing Willis, Schwarzenegger and Stallone revive these old roles makes me a little bit depressed. I just don't like seeing people look this old. This does sound awesomely bad and I am a fan of the old Die Hard movies. Does he say 'Yippie-Kai-Yay, Motherf**ker' in this installment? I can see hubby renting this one when it's out of theaters.

    1. I'll give you that, Naida. Some of the older action heroes are a little sad, but I do think Willis has still got it. You can definitely tell he's not as into this one as some of the earlier ones, but he's still fun to watch nonetheless. And yes, he does say his trademarked phrase... at the very end. The whole theatre cheered at that part (me included). I'd say it's definitely a rental for die hard Die Hard fans.

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