A Good Day to Die Hard

Directed By: John Moore

Starring: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch, Radivoje Bukvic, Cole Hauser, and Yuliya Snigir

I can't believe it's been 25 years since the original Die Hard came out. Arguably the most influential action movie of all time, this beloved film has reached its silver anniversary and is now legitimately a classic.  This year marks a time to celebrate and honor John McClane for what he's done for action movies.  With that in mind, Bruce Willis is reprising his role as the badass New York detective one more time on the big screen in A Good Day to Die Hard.  Unfortunately, it's not such a good day for the Die Hard franchise.  McClane's latest outing just doesn't do justice to the series.

Corrupt Russian official Viktor Chagarin (Sergei Kolesnikov) has a career to protect and imprisoning onetime friend Yuri Komarov (Sebastian Koch) is just what he's got to do to stay in the game.  Yuri has a file showing just how dirty his old friend is and intends to use it when he goes to court.  Viktor will do anything to ensure that this file never sees the light of day.  However, the Americans, obsessed with their own national security interests, will do anything they can to get their hands on it.  That's why they send CIA operative Jack McClane (Jai Courtney) to assassinate one of Yuri's enemies in a public place.  This will get Jack locked up and close to the controversial political prisoner.  They have the perfect plan to get Yuri out of Moscow and get that file.  They just didn't anticipate Jack's dad John McClane (Willis).

Detective McClane is still serving in the NYPD and doing his thing killing bad guys.  He's been looking for his son Jack for several years.  He believes Jack is a wayward problem child.  This is confirmed for him when a source reveals that Jack has been arrested for murder in Moscow.  Knowing this, John packs his things and heads for Russia to help his son.  What he doesn't know is that he's interrupting a clandestine operation that's been in the works for three years.  When he arrives and messes things up for Jack, John decides to do what he does best and make an even bigger mess of things.  Yippee kai yay Mother Russia!

I'm a Bruce Willis fan for life.  I love to see him doing big things on the big screen, especially in Die Hard movies.  After his success in films like Moonrise Kingdom and Looper last year, I'm sure that Willis has plenty of gas left in the tank, but it's time to retire the character of John McClane.  A Good Day to Die Hard just doesn't get the job done.  While Bruce himself is always on his game, I can't say the same about his director John Moore.  A Good Day to Die Hard doesn't even feel like a Die Hard movie.  Moore litters the movie with explosions for the sake of explosions instead of crafting a thrilling tale.  To make matters worse, Jai Courtney's Jack McClane is a whiny little brat with daddy issues.  All in all, this is a half-assed attempt to honor the Die Hard franchise.

A Good Day to Die Hard is a spy movie guest starring John McClane.  Even though there are cheap references to many of the things that have defined the Die Hard series — the use of Beethoven's 9th Symphony in the opening credits and the constant references to all things American by the Russians (I.e. cowboys, New York, Frank Sinatra, etc.) — it's not a real Die Hard movie.  The sleek, modern music in the opening credits, the international setting of the film in Moscow, and the plot focused on nuclear weapons and arms dealers all say spy movie.  I'm damn certain they don't say Die Hard.  Sappy family moments with Papa McClane and his hugging kids definitely don't help either.  At the end of the day, this generic action flick just does not feel like a Die Hard flick.

A Good Day to Die Hard clocks in at 97 minutes.  That's the shortest Die Hard of all time, and there's a good reason for that.  With a razor-thin script and hollow, one-dimensional characters, the movie lacks any of the dynamic thrills or nuanced characters that have defined the better installments of the Die Hard franchise.  To remedy this, John Moore saddles the film with one explosion after another.  The problem is that this cheap tactic is abundantly clear from the start.  In the major car chase through Russia early in the film, there are dozens of car crashes.  Only one or two actually even matter for the scene itself.  The others are just crashes for the sake of crashes.  They add nothing whatsoever to the film.  Moore continues to leverage this tactic throughout the film in a meaningless way.  Instead of engaging us with a worthwhile story, Moore gives us big booms. 

The worst part of this movie may be the addition of Jai Courtney's character Jack McClane.  The 007 of Plainfield, New Jersey brings nothing to the table in this Die Hard flick.  Because the character is one-dimensional, Courtney gives us a one-trick pony.  All Courtney rants about throughout the film is that he's got daddy issues and that his father has no business in Russia.  Courtney ultimately offers us a whiny brat who annoys more than he impresses.  John McClane has not been a family man traditionally, and things should have stayed that way in this flick.

Over the years, the Die Hard franchise has become less and less grounded in reality.  In previous installments, this was palatable, but that's not the case in A Good Day to Die Hard.  I could deal with Bruce Willis duking it out with a fighter jet in Live Free or Die Hard, but John Moore takes things to a whole new level in this latest outing.  Jumping out of tall buildings and strolling through radioactive disaster areas, Moore tries to turn McClane into Superman.  That's certainly not the average Joe New York cop he started as at Nakatomi Plaza some 25 years ago.

John Moore just doesn't get it right in A Good Day to Die Hard.  Instead of giving us an explosive action thriller, he delivers a stale spy movie.  Instead of celebrating the 25th anniversary of this iconic franchise in style, he dishonors its legacy.  Instead of convincing us that we need more of John McClane in our lives, he dabbles in mediocrity and proves that it's time for the grandpa detective to retire.  I can't believe I'm about to write this, but this Die Hard movie gets a wasted rating.  I'd recommend some shots of Russian vodka for this one.