Posts Tagged bruce willis

A Good Day To Die Hard Review: A Sin To The Franchise

a_good_day_to_die_hard_bruce_willis_jai_courtneyJohn 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.

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Looper Movie Review: Deep Time Travel Thriller

If you had read any of my posts at the beginning of the summer you know that Looper and Prometheus were the two films I have looked forward to most this summer.  After leaving the midnight showing of Looper Thursday/Friday, I could not have asked for more.  This movie has something for (in my opinion), the two kinds of movie fans going to see this movie:  (1) the fans looking for kick ass action and (2) film philosophers looking for meaning in movies.  Looper easily satisfies both and that is most attributable to the films’ writer/director Rian Johnson.  He may not have a long resume but there is some evident quality over quantity with his films.

Now being the deep sci-fi, thriller that Looper is, it is tough to touch on everything without giving too much away.  So here is a brief introduction:  Set in 2044, Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a Looper, an assassin paid to kill anyone set back in time from 2074 by the mob in order to cover their tracks.  Now one of the clauses to being a Looper is that your contract is only finished when they send back your future self for you to kill.  This is called “closing your loop” which you do not know you did until you recover the payment sent back with the victim.  However, being that Joe knows it is coming in 30 years, his future self (Bruce Willis) manages to escape in order to catch the person responsible for sending him back but present Joe needs to stop him so his superiors do not harm present Joe in the present.  Here is the trailer:

The above summary may sound like enough to satisfy the regular action fan and it is.  At its surface Looper is an exceptional action movie.  It has got that classic Willis element of “I got my eye on a bad guy and I am going to spend the whole movie searching for him/her until I kill them.”  So right off the bat if you are a Bruce Willis fan, this is right up your alley.  Looper has cool advanced guns, advanced means of transportation, new addictive drugs, and telekinetic explosions to beef up the futuristic violence.

Then you have the deeper stuff that is the dilemma of the time travel aspect.  There is the obvious what would happen if you met your future self?  What would you ask them?  That is something that a lot of previous time travel films avoid: the future self cannot meet the past self of time itself will unravel…. or whatever Christopher Lloyd says in Back to the Future.  And the reason they are able to do that is Joe was expecting to someday see his future, he did not know when but knew that someday the day would come where he did.  The final deeper issue is at the films conclusion of cyclical violence about the use of violence to stop further violence lead to more violence and you end up exactly where all the original violence began.  I know I just used the word violence too much in that sentence but if you have seen this movie you know what I am talking about.

So all of this inner dilemma and action is attributable to the mind of Rian Johnson but it is executed so well because of some fantastic acting.  Most impressive performance definitely has to go to Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  I cannot even begin to imagine how many hours JGL must have spent looking in a mirror perfecting Bruce Willis’ facial mannerisms and voice.  Now I now he has a prosthetic on to look more like Willis but he just nails that trademark smirk that we all know from Willis’ younger years.  But even with the prosthetic on he is perfectly able to show his emotions.  As I mentioned earlier, if you are a Bruce Willis fan then you know what to expect from him and he is at his ass-kicking best in this movie with some good dramatic bits as well.  Emily Blunt, Jeff Daniels, and Paul Dano were also fantastic in their roles.

Looper is an intelligent sci-fi/action/thriller with a fair amount of comedy and drama.  Easily ties for one of my favorite films of the year so far with Safety Not Guaranteed which coincidently features time travel as well.  Trust me I really am not a big fan of time travel films, these are just two that I love that happen to come out in the same year.  I give Looper a prestigious 10/10 rating.

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Movie Review: The Cold Light Of Day

Bruce Willis is known for a lot of high-octane action-thrillers.  From his early days of dangling from a fire hose outside the 35 story high Nakatomi building to his brief appearance in the star-studded Expendables series Willis always brings that extra something to make an action movie even better.  That is not the case, however, for The Cold Light Of Day.  No actor has a resume of just great movies.  There are bound to be a few that have you scratching your head wondering “what were they thinking?”  So I am willing to let Willis slide on this one because I think the success or failure of a movie is heavily dependent on the editing in my opinion (that does not mean that I am right).  The Cold Light of Day has no substance at its all action core.

A brief plot synopsis is as follows:  Struggling business consultant, Will (Henry Cavill), reluctantly takes time off from his ailing business to spend a week with family in Spain.  Will has a resentful relationship with his father, Martin (Willis), which leads to an incident on their yacht and Will has to go into town for a few hours to put some distance between him and his father.  He returns to see his family’s yacht torn apart and vacant.  When goes to recruit the help of local authorities he finds they are involved and the his father’s government job is not as honest as he had thought and now must scramble between fighting government agencies in order to get his family back.  Here is the trailer:

As I hinted at earlier this movie may have had potential had it been edited differently.  I have no idea whether this is how the director, Mabrouk El Mechri, had envisioned it but it just seemed sloppy and all over the place.  It spent so much time on the action scenes and none on the development of the story.  That is a petty complaint for an action movie but when there is an obvious question that needs to be answered and it is not it takes you out of the movie.  Now they definitely had shot some more scenes that did not make it into the movie as does every movie, but the way they chose to speed over a lot of what could have been important plot details that needed explaining did not make sense to me.  They would allude to explanations but never really make any sense of things and stuck the “just because” reasons.  Normally I love when there is a lot of action but not when it is drawn out and goes nowhere especially when it comes to car chases.

Of course with any action movie you do not watch it for the acting.  That said it is hard to do wrong.  Willis was his good as usual; Sigourney Weaver was very hate-able as a villain, and Cavill was so-so.  I kept having a hard time rooting for him because he was winey at the start of the movie and I was getting real tired of the “where’s my family” and “I need to find my family.”  It was very much a beating a dead horse kind of movie.  They kept saying how bad of a person Willis really was but they never clarify if they were just saying that to get Cavill to do what they wanted him to or if Willis’ character was really a snake in the grass government worker.  Kind of makes me nervous about Cavill being the next Superman.

The Cold Light Of Day is easily the biggest disappointment of the year to me.  Rarely do I question the title of movies of this one made absolutely no sense to me.  It has been a while since Willis has let me down but maybe he saw how bad it was going to turn out and said take me out which is why he is barely in it.  Yeah, I will just go with that.  It is just a mess so I have to give it a 3/10.

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Review: Moonrise Kingdom

Moonrise Kingdom finally hit the theaters in my area so I know I am behind in the blogging world for posting a review.  It is the latest from Wes Anderson whose previous films can best be described as unique.  I say that because his movies had a feel and formula totally different from any other director.  That said people who see his movies love or hate them.  There are some who fall in the middle but for the most part people are at polar ends.  Someone who sees a lot a movies will most likely appreciate Wes Anderson’s style where as a casual movie-goer might find themselves thinking, “What did I just watch?”  I heard this from a lot of people as we left the theater this time around.  That said, Moonrise Kingdom definitely follows the Wes Anderson formula of unique drama, comedy, and atmosphere.

Moonrise Kingdom is about a couple of barely teenage lovers, Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward), who believe the only way they be together is by escaping into the wilderness away from their drab everyday lives.  When the two go missing local police’s Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis), Sam’s Khaki Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton), and Suzy’s parents (Bill Murray and Francis McDormand) must work together, while butting heads, to bring the modern day Romeo and Juliet back to safety before a might storm strikes the small New England town.  Here is the trailer:

Starting off, if you found yourself not liking any of Wes Anderson’s previous films like The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, The Darjeeling Limited, and Rushmore then you most likely might not be thrilled with Moonrise Kingdom.  I say might because who knows, maybe you would like this one since you like Norton, Willis, or McDormand who have not been in a Wes Anderson directed film previously.  The material is dry and a lot of the comedy is situational as oppose to spoken.  Do not get me wrong there were some funny lines in this movie but a lot of what made this movie funny were the awkward situations, which is classic Wes Anderson in my opinion.

The acting was perfect.  There was not a single person in this movie that could have easily been replaced.  I look forward to seeing what is next for Gilman and Hayward because they absolutely nailed their roles just way Anderson envisioned the characters being.  Bill Murray again proves himself to be a true actor, not just a witty comedic actor.  Bruce Willis played a different kind of cop for a change!  Not complaining about his other roles at all but he never draws a gun here which is a cool change for him.  But the best performance to me was from Norton.  He embodied the commanding troop leader turned paranoid, naïve, regular guy and delivered his lines with the right amount of emotion.

Overall, Moonrise Kingdom is a fun dram-rom-com that any Wes Anderson fan will enjoy for its situational humor and adolescent view of true love.  I give it an 8/10 and it is probably my favorite film from Anderson thus far.  And Bill Murray and Bruce Willis are two of my favorite actors so it was cool to final see them in a movie together.

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Joseph Gordon-Levitt & Bruce Willis as Each Other in Looper

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Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt never disappoint in their movies so there is no doubt that action/sci-fi movie Looper will follow suit.  For those that do not know about Looper, it follows Joe (Gordon-Levitt) a hitman in 2042 who assassinates individuals sent back in time by a mob in 2072 until his latest hit, his future self (Willis).  It is kind of an interesting premise right?  Here is the explosive trailer:

Naturally various time travels movies come to mind when you think about the premise.  Everything from Marty McFly venturing to his dad’s high school days in Back to the Future to the indie hit Primer.  So what makes this movie different from the others?  In my opinion the answer lies in the director, Rian Johnson.  One of his earlier films was, Brick, following a teenager diving in the crime ridden underworld of high school, another not so unusual premise right?  But they key is the way the story is told.  For those that have seen Brick know that what made the film good was that it does not follow the typical structure most stories follow.

Now what a lot of filmmakers might try to do now is have an actor play both part and but make-up on the older version.  So choosing to have two different actors is always iffy, especially when they are not really that much different in age that would make them appear too much different.  This is where the movie will excel.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt nailed looking a younger Bruce Willis and if you listen carefully trailer, Levitt even sounds like a scream Willis from Die Hard.

Any similarity?

The potential for the movie is so great.  I am a huge Bruce Willis fan and Joseph Gordon-Levitt going to be (if not already) going to be the biggest rising star in Hollywood.  Jeff Daniels and the sexy Emily Blunt also are attached to the project.  All of this on top off be directed by Rian Johnson who has worked with Levitt in the past and has proven he he has a unique vision for his films.

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