"A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD"
By Steve Crum
Mr. Willis has done wonders to redefine the word “Bruce.” But his name and presence in the latest and surely last “Die Hard” franchiser, “A Good Day to Die Hard,” directed by John Moore, is a no-gainer. It is not his fault he has grown more than a tad too old to play John McClane (for the 5th time since 1988), but he can be blamed for signing on to such a script-shallow, decibel-deafening blast-fest. What a disappointment for die-hard fans of “Die Hard,” yours truly among them.
This time, police detective McClane heads off to Moscow, no less, to check on or rescue (it’s never clear which) his estranged son, Jack (Jai Courtney), who has somehow gotten himself convicted of high crimes and is pending a very public trial. By the way, Papa John’s daughter, Lucy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), briefly appears at the beginning and end of the film. (She was more prominently featured in the last “Die Hard” movie, so she has had her minutes of fame.)
Soon after McClane arrives outside the Russian court building, all hell breaks loose as explosions ensue, making a literal shambles of everything and everyone inside. As luck would have it (and there is a myriad amount of luck and coincidences in this movie), Jack and political prisoner Komarov (Sebastion Koch), also on trial, weave through the chaos, escaping outside to a conveniently parked armored vehicle. All this is observed by father John, who tries to climb aboard as well, but his son violently disagrees with that plan. So begins a seemingly two hour, frantic chase (actually it takes about eight minutes) through downtown Moscow’s jammed streets.
“A Good Day to Die Hard” is not the first, nor will it be the last, action movie to feature rock’em, sock’em car chases through downtown streets. By now, the bar has been raised so high in stunt driving and crashing that where does one go from here? In “Good Day,” that means including three humongous transports in the chase, and wiping out dozens upon dozens of innocent bystanders and their cars along the path. It is a destructo truck rally gone mad.
Prepare to put your disbelief in overdrive suspension, because not once is there indication of any bystander actually being hurt, let alone obliterated, during the explosions and chase scenes. Oh, but there are cars upon cars crunched and mangled big time. Absent too are any emergency vehicles like paramedic or fire trucks. And it is alarming that Russian police are non-existent. What a country!
Skip Woods’ cliched screenplay involves the CIA, corrupt Russian politicos, good guys who are bad, bad guys who are good, and spies who will do anything for the sake of loyalties. That is, some operate that way. It’s way too convoluted for my critical brain.
Like Stallone, Schwartzenegger, and similar genre movies, “A Good Day to Die Hard” features (in this case) two heroes, father and son, who withstand explosions, car wrecks, falls through multiple floors in buildings, beatings, and gun shots with nary a bruise. The hero might be bloody from stem to stern in one scene, and then patched with a Band-Aid in the next. I always marveled at Kiefer Sutherland’s resilience to do likewise in TV’s “24.” These guys go far beyond their fellow men in fighting evil and remaining unscathed. John McClane is such a mythical being.
Incidentally, there is neither an appearance nor mention of Mrs. McClane, significantly portrayed in the first couple of “Die Hard” flicks by Bonnie Bedelia. I had hoped for a happy reunion featuring the entire McClane clan at the conclusion. Maybe she couldn’t make it due to her incarceration in India or somewhere. Look for her rescue in “A Good Delhi to Die Hard.”
GRADE on a Scale of A to F: D