Score = C+
Review by: Kisho Wolfe
Logline: The things we do for our kids…
After watching this movie, it makes perfect sense why they released it on Valentine’s Day. A Good Day to Die Hard is not a love story, but a story about love. The love between a father and son. John McClane (Bruce Willis) hasn’t seen his son Jack (Jai Courtney) in a couple of years and gets word he’s been arrested over in Russia. Figuring he’s got to do whatever he can to help his son, John jumps on a plane with no idea of what he’s about to get into.
Skip Woods does a great job in setting up the plot of this movie. Dramatic entrances of key characters are also done nicely by director John Moore. The dramatic sense turns dull toward the middle of the movie as we start to see evidence of the writer’s high octane content losing horsepower. The “vacation” catch is used one too many times and it seems the characters are written with little to no personality. In watching all the Die Hard movies, this one seems to be the most shallow in terms of plot AND action. Sure we’ve got explosions, a car chase and guns, but where’s the tension? We need more than an occasional quip from our main star, who, by the way, is really not the protagonist in this film. The obvious protagonist in the movie is Jack, but the way the film is written, we are more focused on John McClain; the side-kick.
That’s right. Bruce Willis’ character is actually the side kick of the movie, but written like he is the main character (make sense?). This is part of the problem here. If you’re going to make someone the side-kick, then do it, but, the main protagonist should be fleshed out bigger and better. Aside from maybe Kato and Green Hornet, this recipe needs to be thought out a lot better than an old school cop and his CIA son. They seemed to have let the formula end a that rather than give the son say, a hot temper (reminiscent of his father as a younger cop), or maybe would’ve been better if they wrote John in a way that changed his attitude after the last film, got his stuff together, and hit the gym to pave the way for a return to his former hot-headed self; although we’d probably have to find a way to get Mr. Willis in the gym for that one… Maybe get Sylvester Stallone in there to train him up a bit.
The point is, the Die Hard series has always been about revenge, money, and/or making things personal. Sure the greater good of “saving the world” is a broad reason to do pretty much everything in stories, but the great stories always have more complex subplots which make things interesting. A father and son reuniting after a couple years…not really that compelling. This iteration of Die Hard made me long for the days when Steven de Souza’s pen was in the mix during the first couple of movies. It seems he may have been the brain child behind those 80’s one liners and suspense plots that are sorely missed here.
Yuliya Snigir–Russian actress, model, bomb-shell, chess prodigy–makes her American movie début in this film and actually does better in her support role than the majority of the other actors in the film. The rest of the cast was a bit “vanilla” for my taste. There was a trifecta of bad-guys, none of which were really memorable either. Mary Elizabeth Winstead makes a five-minute appearance in the movie, which honestly is a damn shame considering she’s fun to watch on-screen. Bruce Willis plays the old man role just fine, but is he really acting these days? Love his earlier works, but unfortunately his spark just isn’t there anymore.
As a stand-alone movie, A Good Day to Die Hard is a decent action flick. Not much in the way of story-telling or fisticuffs, but enough stuff gets blown up or shot to scratch that itch of wanting to watch some action; just not necessarily great action by Die Hard standards. There are a few points where things are so poorly done the effects/CG almost look comedic (watch the car chase closely) in this age of technology. With that said, it’s probably past time to wrap this series up unless…nah, let’s just wrap it up. I mean seriously, once you get “side-kicked” in your own movie franchise, it’s safe to say the fat lady has hit that high note.