Review: Good Day to Die Hard

THE SETUP: A cop (Bruce Willis) with astronomically bad luck at being in the wrong place at the wrong time decides to mix it up and go looking for trouble, which happens to be in the shape of his son (Jai Courtney)…and Russia.

THE THOUGHTS: Watch the trailer above? Watch it again. Soak up the action. The dynamic editing. And, the amazing music of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D minor (Ode to Joy). If that song sounds familiar, it’s the music from the original 1988 Die Hard. Which is a really great marketing tool to help us reminisce about the Die Hards that came before, especially the first one. After seeing the latest installment in the franchise, I want to forget it happened and watch the original classic again. Explosions and huge action pieces do not a good movie make.

THE YAYS: I hate leading with bad news so let’s start with what I liked. I wouldn’t go so far as to use the clichéd “he phoned it in” for Bruce, but he certainly wasn’t bringing his A game. There’s effortless and then there’s “some” effort, which is all we got to see. Thankfully, even a little John McLane is better than no John McLane. The reason we love the character is his attitude in incredible situations. He didn’t bring much but there was a glimmer of that sauciness.

I also loved the action sequences. From the crazy ass car chase through Moscow, to the big boss helicopter fight, they were well done and completely over the top. The special effects were solid and the stunts were pretty spectacular.* (But I say that with a BIG old asterix)

THE NAYS: Where to start. Maybe it’s better if we do this rapid fire…

  • Sound. I don’t know if it was the sound person’s job or Bruce was a little too relaxed but you could barely understand his mumbling sometimes.
  • Acting. Bruce brought probably 20-25% of the old John McLane, but at least he brought something. Everyone else, from the guy who played his son to the bad guy(s), there really wasn’t anything there. Not original. Not emotional. Not impactful. Nada.
  • Cartoony. The reason the first Die Hard was so great was that here was a guy who wasn’t indestructible like the other action heroes of the day (Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Seagal, etc.). He felt pain. He laughed it off but he got his ass handed to him. And you felt it. Now John McLane can throw himself off the side of a building, bouncing off scaffolding, while still recovering from too horrific car crashes and a pretty serious beating. And he walks away. Oh wait…is that a little limp?  Come on! Here’s where that asterix comes in. Though I loved the action, the suspension of belief was too much.
  • Dialogue. Not great. Really not great. The un-heartfelt moments, the less than witty comments…but then it was written by the guy that did X-men Origins: Wolverine and Hitman. I understand I’m not to expect greatness, but goodness would have been nice.

OK, I’m done.

2 stars – it’s a renter.
For the action, shots of Moscow and the nostalgia of the previous Die Hard movies, I’ll give it renter status. But really, go back and watch the first one, then the third, then the second, then the fourth. In that order. And then the first again. Yippey-kay-eh.

Random Recommendations
Black Book (2006) – Sebastian Koch has one of those faces where you’ve sworn you’ve seen him somewhere before. In the new Die Hard, he’s the prisoner they’re trying to rescue. In this World War 2 film, he plays the Nazi object of desire/manipulation by a Jewish singer.

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