Terrible. A Good Day to Die Hard is terrible and if you’re not clued in to that fact about ten minutes in, by the time you hit the 30 minute mark you’ll be well aware.
Much has already been made about how the franchise has returned to an R-rating after the PG-13 Live Free or Die Hard and how this is the shortest of all the Die Hard films by about 30 minutes. Trust me, you’re going to wish it was even shorter.
Without any context whatsoever, A Good Day to Die Hard introduces us to a whole crop of people we don’t know or care about. Some Russian guy is going to go to court to reveal information concerning some other Russian guy. Next, a guy we will later learn is Jack (Jai Courtney), the son of Bruce Willis‘s iconic New York City police officer John McClane, is thrown into jail following an assassination attempt.
Cut to McClane at a shooting range where some random officer brings him a dossier on Jack and his troubles in Russia. John’s decision? We’re headed to Russia. To do what exactly? Your guess is as good as mine and we’ll never know. It doesn’t take more than a few minutes of McClane being in Russia that a massive car chase takes place, destroying virtually every street in Moscow rounding out the first 30 minutes of the movie.
30 minutes later and not much else is resolved, but it’s at this 60 minute mark that screenwriter Skip Woods decides it’s time for the two McClanes to hash things out and explain how we got here (that is, when John isn’t having a heart-to-heart with the Russian guy he just met). After all, this father/son duo has now escaped death a countless number of times and there’s nothing like a near-death experience and a stranger to bring hated family members together again. The best part is the seemingly endless, back-and-forth dialogue that could have been written on a napkin five minutes before the scene was shot rather than worked out and rewritten in script format.
To that extent, I’m not sure where the bulk of the fault lies for this travesty. Is it with screenwriter Skip Woods whose work on films such as Hitman and X-Men Origins: Wolverine is hardly laudable, or is it with director John Moore whose talent for surprising me has nothing to do with the content of his movies, but more the fact people continue to hire him to make them. Have these execs not seen Max Payne or Moore’s remake of The Omen. The “fool me once” idiom doesn’t even apply to the folks at Fox who hired him to direct three straight steaming piles in a row. The shame now resides with you, me and everyone we know.
The only goal this film seemed to have was a curiosity for breaking as much glass as possible. You can see each scene playing out before it ever happens simply by the amount of glass any one room may have and while stereotypical, carrot-eating bad guys dance around rather than killing off their targets you can’t help but shrug at every stupid turn this poor excuse for a story takes. Then you add radiation vacuums, inconceivable fluorescent lighting and multiple leaps of faith and you have some of the dumbest scenes put on film in a long, long time.
An homage to the original Die Hard late in the film did manage to get a chuckle out of the majority of audience members before it was cut short, but all it really did was prove just how iconic that original film is in comparison to this poor excuse for an installment in the same franchise.
Before A Good Day to Die Hard even hit theaters there was talk of a sixth installment, but this film will have to defy all odds for that to happen. While I didn’t dislike the Len Wiseman-directed fourth installment as much as others, the writing is clearly on the wall in that today’s so-called action directors don’t hold a candle to the likes of old schoolers such as John McTiernan who only seemed to get better while today’s plastic wrapped clones only get worse.