February 21, 2013

Critical Capsule: A Good Day to Die Hard

Bruce Willis is back at the controls of John McClane and I am not s sure that is necessarily a good thing. As much as I will not begrudge the making of a film, there are times when franchises probably should not be revisited. The creative talent may have their hearts in the right place, but it is not always possible to recapture the magic of a previous film or films, especially when the series was started some 25-years before.



The fifth film in the franchise is saddled with the title A Good Day to Die Hard (following 2007's similarly poorly titled Live Free or Die Hard) and finds our intrepid New York City cop traveling to Russia where his son is up on some serious criminal charges. Of course, not is all as it seems. It turns out that Jack (Jai Courtney with a name that is starting to become seriously overused) is working undercover, something dad didn't know about.

After a few misunderstandings that get the duo into deeper trouble with some random Russians, they fight back. Shootouts, chases, and explosions occur, yadda, yadda, yadda, and things end happily ever after.

This movie just fails to overcome the mediocre. Sure, there is a pretty awesome car chase near the beginning, but it was all downhill from there. The action is pretty big and explosive, and thankfully R-rated, but it just did not feel right. It was like they took some generic action flick, pasted a familiar face on it, changed the title and then unleashed it upon an unsuspecting public hoping we would all be blinded by our past fandom to be blind to the dull reality.


A Good Day to Die Hard is just trying to hard. I think a lot of people forget just how damn good the original film was. That first Die Hard movie was a hardcore, gritty film with some great characters. I feel we get caught in the trap of forgetting the reality of the film and only remembering the increasingly ridiculousness that would come. The films get caught in a game of one upsmanship with the prior outing. The problem is that they keep their eyes on the action and lose the elements that make the characters interesting, relatable, and worthwhile in the first place.

This fifth outing in the fading franchise amps the action to momentarily great but mostly mediocre levels while saddling the characters with quips and wisecracks masquerading as character. Bruce Willis is certainly likable in the role but mostly seems to be sleepwalking through the work. The rest of the cast, including Jai Courtney, is bland, lifeless, and uninteresting. The same can be sad for the plot.

It might be time to let this franchise go.

Not Recommended.


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