A Good Day to Die Hard Review

poster  from the 20th Century Fox film A Good Day to Die Hard

I was facing a dilemma this week. Should I go to see the terrible looking horror movie (Dark Skies) or the terrible looking action movie (Snitch)? As you can see, I chose neither. My friend wanted to see Die Hard, so to Die Hard we went.

Loose cannon cop John McClane travels to Russia to bail out his screwup son, only to find that he’s caught in the middle of a CIA operation.

If you’ve ever seen a Die Hard movie you know that they’re all about smarmy good guys defying the laws of physics and destroying half the city trying to take down bad guys with nefarious plans you forget about after two minutes because the point of the movie is explosions, not plot. This movie is the same, but seems a little more perfunctory, like John McClane is just marking time until he can retire with all his vertebrae intact.


Jack McClane (Jai Courtney) is a CIA operative in Russia on a mission to get close to Komorov (Sebastian Koch), a man who has been held prisoner for years and is about to go on trial for… something. It’s not important. What’s important is that he has a dossier on a Russian official named Chagarin (Sergei Kolesnikov) who is… bad somehow and shouldn’t be allowed to get into the cabinet like he wants to… or something. IT’S NOT IMPORTANT. The important thing is that Jack needs to get thrown in Russian jail to protect this guy.

Jack is arrested  from the 20th Century Fox film A Good Day to Die Hard

Yes, this is all part of my convoluted plan…

John McClane (Bruce Willis) hears about his son’s arrest from a friend of a friend of a friend who can find Jack even though he’s on a black op and is not using his own name, but can’t find out who his employer even is… yeah, that’s not important either. What’s important is that John decides to go to Russia to either yell at or save Jack, possibly both.

Jack holds a gun on John  from the 20th Century Fox film A Good Day to Die Hard

You are grounded, Mister!

John accidentally burns Jack, mucks up his operation, and leaves the three of them running from Alik (Rasha Bukvic), a carrot chewing, dance stepping bad guy who works for Chagarin. Alik drives an armored personnel carrier and rides around in the world’s ugliest attack helicopter, neither of which really seem to bother the Russian police, government, military, or the residents of Moscow, so I have to assume that you can buy these things at any car dealership and that destructive, multi-vehicle car chases happen every other day in Russia.

Bad guy drives an APC  from the 20th Century Fox film A Good Day to Die Hard

Excuse me, citizen, but have you seen an irritating bald man with a smarmy smile pass by recently?

After a car chase that goes on long enough for me to get bored and start wondering what John McClane’s tires are made of that allow him to drive over whole cars in a Land Rover, John and Jack finally team up to help Komorov retrieve his dossier. The dossier is apparently on paper like this is 1985 instead of 2013, meaning they need to retrieve keys and access safety deposit boxes and other things that will fill up the running time of the movie in between interminably long gunfights and car chases.

CIA safe house explodes  from the 20th Century Fox film A Good Day to Die Hard

We have the key now let’s BLOW UP THE BUILDING!!

While they struggle to survive the constant hails of bullets, Jack and John hash out their problems, which are probably the most common, clichéd problems known to families: Jack never calls and John spent too much of Jack’s childhood working. They do talk about their feelings and make up a bit, at least I assume that’s what they’re doing when they’re shouting back and forth at each other while everything around them explodes, but I can’t understand a word of it.

John and Jack return fire  from the 20th Century Fox film A Good Day to Die Hard

JOHN: So I was thinking you should come home for Thanksgiving.
JACK: WHAT?? I’M DEAF FROM REPEATEDLY FIRING AUTOMATIC
WEAPONS RIGHT NEXT TO MY EARDRUMS

The film’s composer obviously felt he had to try and make up for the heavy hands of the sound mixers, because the music is overdone and overpowering. John and Jack may be having an awkwardly manly father son heart to heart but if you closed your eyes, the weepy string music could almost convince you that they were about to adopt a flock of crippled ducklings from an old woman with cancer or something.

John and Jack have a bonding moment  from the 20th Century Fox film A Good Day to Die Hard

JOHN: *cough* love you, boy.
JACK: Yeah, um, you too.
SOUNDTRACK: Screeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

I’ve seen most of the Die Hard movies, but still I’m hard pressed to say what makes them different from any other heavy-on-explosions, light-on-everything-else action movie. A Good Day to Die Hard may have provided me with the answer. At one point Jack says: “We’re McClanes. We’re hard to kill.” He’s right, you know. It’s awfully hard to kill someone when they have superhuman powers like:

VEINS OF TITANIUM

John and Jack jump out a window from the 20th Century Fox film A Good Day to Die Hard

They crash through every pane of glass in Russia and yet never split their own jugulars.

SKIN OF LEAD

John and Jack argue  from the 20th Century Fox film A Good Day to Die Hard

Radiation suits? We don’t need no stinkin’ radiation suits!

ARMS OF ASBESTOS

Jack covers up in an explosion  from the 20th Century Fox film A Good Day to Die Hard

Merely covering their heads prevents them from being incinerated in explosions.

I can’t wait for Die Hard 6, in which John McClane will probably pull another hitherto unknown child out of the ether and proceed to shoot up some evil Argentineans around the space station, because McClanes also have lungs of steel, feet of rockets, guns of magic, and hearts of hating foreign people.

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