WARNING: This post may contain spoilers! DO NOT continue reading then scream at me for ruining the movie!
Yes, after six years without the wisecracking, butt-kicking, and ruthless cop John McClane, 20th Century Fox has decided to grace us with his presence once again with A Good Day to Die Hard, the fifth edition to the Die Hard franchise. The original Die Hard, the film that started it all, was released in 1988. That was 25 years ago, man! Since then, we’ve gotten sequels throughout the years. Die Hard 2: Die Harder came out not long after the first film then it was a bit more sporadic, hence the six years since the last film. Needless to say, excitement buzzed about the Allison household during the months leading up to the big day.
The film stars the one and only Bruce Willis as the one and only John McClane. I shouldn’t have to write anything else. That should about cover it. What else do you need to know? Willis is the original bad ass. Want to know how much of one he is? When the original Die Hard was released, they didn’t even put his face on the movie poster, because he was just some podunk television actor. In other words, the studio didn’t think he had enough star power to push the film. WRONG! He was every bit of a star and more. So, what do you need to know? McClane shoots bad guys, blows things up, makes jokes at the expense of the bad guys, says jerk-offs a lot, and… Oh wait, some of this isn’t true. I’ll come back to this.
In this Die Hard film, we finally get to meet his son Jack. Remember little Jack from the first Die Hard film, playing with his toys in the kitchen when sniveling reporter Richard Thornburg shows up to interview them for a big ratings scoop? He was adorable! Well, Jack is all grown up and packing heat, as well as muscles. The part of Jack McClane is played by Jai Courtney. Who? He’s Varro from Spartacus: War of the Damned and Charlie from Jack Reacher. Oh, that guy! Yeah, that guy.
A Good Day to Die Hard takes place in Mother Russia. How does John McClane, a New York City detective, end up in Russia? It’s very simple. He finds out that his son Jack is there and about to go on trial for murder. Say what? Yep, little Jack McClane is in big trouble and like a good estranged father, John flies to Moscow in order to… in order to… I don’t know what he was going to do. Maybe say hi and your mother and I are worried about you. I don’t know!
Anyway, John arrives in Moscow and has a subdued comical encounter with a Russian cab driver. Of course, John is very reserved. He’s in a foreign land, his son is charged with murder, he just flew 20 hours to get there, and traffic is horrible. This is also the last time you see a hint of the John McClane we have grown to love.
So, what about John McClane? Here’s the problem. I see Bruce Willis and the words Die Hard in the title, but I do not see John McClane. Not only is he older, and who cares about that, we all get older, but he’s mellow. Gone is the Die Hard attitude. Gone is the rage and anger mixed with sarcasm and badassery. Yeah, sure, he shoots bad guys and things blow up, but that happens in every action film. I’m not watching Die Hard to see just that! I want attitude! I want revenge! I want McClane to rub it in when he kills the bad guys! But do we get any of that? Not a peep. Got a yippee ki-yay half way through, but that was it.
Well, at least we have Jack McClane.
Yes, Jack is a bad dude, but he’s not his father. Jai Courtney is pretty good. He has the look of an action star and his acting chops aren’t too shabby. But he’s no John McClane. Hell, Bruce Willis wasn’t even John McClane this time around. How can we expect Jai Courtney to fill those shoes?
I’ll sum up this film in a simple, cliché synopsis for you.
A New York City cop goes to Russia to rescue his wayward son who turns out to be a CIA operative trying to stop the theft of unaccounted weapons grade uranium from Chernobyl. Along the way, they mend their broken relationship while popping off stereotypical Russian bad guys played by famous European actors, not all of them Russian, but pretending to be, because Americans don’t know the difference. In the end there’s a spectacular showdown with huge explosions and impossible circumstances and the 58 year old cop and his son escape with only scratches. They return home as heroes and a family once again.
Okay, fine, maybe this sounds like a good movie. However, once you make the New York City cop John McClane, it becomes a must see. Unfortunately, it’s a rental at best. If you are a Die Hard fan, prepare to be disappointed. 20th Century Fox dropped the ball on this one. They should have called the film A Good Day to Stop Making Die Hard Films. They try to save it with nods and winks to the original Die Hard, but to me, that’s just insulting. All that says is that you’re out of ideas and don’t have an original thought left in you.
However, if you are not a Die Hard fan, or could care less, this is an okay action film to go see. There are a lot of explosions and bullets flying through the air and some pretty good special effects. The story is ho-hum (I fell asleep for about five minutes at one point), but the action keeps you going for a while.
If they’re going to make a sixth Die Hard, and the rumor is that they are, then 20th Century has some heavy damage control to do. My suggestion is that they set it in San Francisco, bring back the ex-wife to throw some family tension in there, have it take place leading up to his daughter’s wedding, make John realize his being an idiot, but before he can apologize get thrown into an impossible situation where he has to kill a bunch of bad guys. Oh, and here’s a thought: let Bruce Willis be John McClane! That is, let him be the wise cracking, sarcastic, butt-kicking cop from New York City that we all love. And one more thing: kill him in the end.
And now for your viewing pleasure: