John McTiernan’s Die Hard ranks as one of my top five favorite movies of all time. Subsequent sequels (Die Hard 2: Die Harder, Die Hard With A Vengeance, and Live Free Or Die Hard) have not been as good as the original but they are still good, fun action movies. The main reason for that is Bruce Willis’ ability to keep the John McClane character consistent through them all. So how does the fifth installment of the Die Hard franchise stack up?
A brief introduction to the plot of A Good Day To Die Hard is as follows: When research on the whereabouts of his estranged son Jack (Jai Courtney) is going to be on trial in Russia, John McClane (Bruce Willis) catches a flight in an effort to mend their difference and support his son in what should be a tough time. Upon arrival John finds himself in familiar territory of explosions as he discovered his son was undercover for the CIA in an effort to prevent a scientist from being used in a nuclear heist. But John arrival throws a wrench into the CIA’s plan and now the master of improvised crime fighting must aid his son in stopping the heist. Click here for the trailer.
Some thought that choosing Len Wiseman to direct Live Free Or Die Hard was a risky choice but I think that skepticism will most definitely be silenced after what John Moore did with A Good Day To Die Hard. I do not know where to begin to explain all the places that this movie failed. Which is no surprise considering the guy directed Max Payne and Flight of the Phoenix.
A good place to star is with the story. It never really explains why now is the time for John McClane to show interest in his son’s whereabouts. Is there something wrong with Jack’s mother or sister? Or maybe John is planning on retiring and he wanted to tell Jack this so they could catch up? No real reason is given. Next when he gets to Russia and he sees his son in the midst of escaping a prison on the run from people trying to kill him John wants to stop and talk but when Jack refuses to talk John obliges himself into bumping bumpers with terrorists on the Russian streets he does not know. Okay the driving in streets he does not know I will let slip because if I nit-picked on that I might as well nitpick on that in just about every action movie.
Perhaps the most glaring problem with the story is that the characters are not good. I did not think it was possible but John McClane did not feel like John McClane. He felt like some generic action character. One of the things I liked most about McClane in the previous installments is that you could tell he was improvising by looking around seeing what he could utilize to his advantage. But with this one there was none if that. Him and his son would jump out a window on a without knowing what would be there to break their fall. Which leads me to another character qualm I had with Jack, he is CIA and John is NYPD. Who would you think would call the shots in Russia?
Last thing about the story then I will move on is the lack of a villain. When my friends and I left the theater we talked about Willis and the action but when I asked them who the villain was there was a long pause before anyone could think of who it was. Most of the movie there really is not a villain just the McClanes running from bad guys with guns but nothing to hate or fear about them.
Story aside, for how well choreographed the action scenes were they were poorly shot. I could not stand the rapid zoom-ins and the snappy editing which is a shame because the car chase in the beginning was very exciting but it gives you a headache trying to piece together the action. As weird as this may sound, the rest of the action was very CGI heavy that gave me the feeling of Moore trying to make this movie too big for its own good.
“Too big” is a phrase I rarely use especially when describing an action movie. But when you look at the Die Hard franchise, that have a runtime of over two hours and they do not nearly reach the ridiculous action heights that A Good Day To Die Hard. Well I guess Live Free Or Die Hard did but it just a better all around movie with a villain, story, and direction. This installment runs just shy of an hour and forty minutes and it shows in the lack of development. I think that is why I would describe it as too big because it all feels rushed to get through the plot just to show some more action.
Overall, A Good Day To Die Hard is a major let down. Part of me wants a sixth Die Hard movie so the franchise does not end on such a sour note. It does not feel like John McClane and the frequent old man on vacation jokes get stale quick. I give A Good Day To Die Hard a 4/10 and that is being generous.