John McClane returns to our screens for part five (That’s right, five!) of the Die Hard franchise, where he again aims to single-handedly stop super terrorists from taking over/destroying/kidnapping the world and becoming filthy rich through methods of varying levels of nastiness, only this time he has a super badass sidekick in his estranged, CIA agent son Jack. This endeavour sees John travel to Russia to get Jack out of jail, which he does successfully and the duo finish up their family holiday where they enjoy a few beers together and other such larks. Of course you know as well as I do that it doesn’t turn out quite so pleasantly and involves a lot more crashes, smashes, explosions and gunfire, and isn’t that what you really want?
Bruce Willis (Looper, The Expendables, Sin City)
Jai Courtney (Jack Reacher, Spartacus (TV Series))
Sebastian Koch (Unknown, The Lives Of Others, Black Book)
Directed By: John Moore (Max Payne, The Omen (2006), Behind Enemy Lines)
What Did I Think Of The Film?
Like just about everybody I am a massive Die Hard fan, the first two are probably the best out and out action films ever made, even Die Hard 4.0 (Live Free Or Die Hard to some people) was very good by modern action movie standards. That said I was sceptical when yet another updated sequel was announced and nothing had emerged to give me any hope of it matching the quality of the originals, so I’d have to settle for it living up to 4.0.
Most early review scores seemed to slate A Good Day To Die Hard (Rotten Tomatoes had it at 11/100 and Metacritic at 29/100 on it’s UK release day!!!) so I was pretty worried that it would be a total flop and destroy my love of the franchise completely, turning it in to a new superhero chain. Luckily those scores were exaggerated quite a bit. While it really has evolved into something different than the originals and nowhere near as good, it’s still a better action film than a lot of the others I’ve seen in the past few years while still trying to fit into that money-making mould that’s managed to ruin so many other franchises.
Bruce Willis reprising his role as ‘fish out of water’ NYC cop John McClane is great as ever, you’d think the nostalgia would’ve worn off by now but Bruce and John will always be one and the same in my eyes. I expected to see a bit less over the top action from him, given that both he and the character are getting on in years, with Jai Courtney taking more of a beating from the stunts, but even though most of it is CGI Willis still put in his fair shift of jumping about. Despite my thinking that Courtney was someone else until a few weeks ago, I was very impressed with his part in the film. Having not seen any of his previous work given that he is a relative newcomer to the big screen, it was a bit of a surprise that someone with so little experience was trusted to play such a big part but as an up and coming action hero he does very well and would be ideal to take over from his co-star to continue the Die Hard name if they decide to go in this bullet/stunt heavy almost superhero type angle. Sebastian Koch does alright in his role as well but his character and lines are written more poorly than the two leads and it does make him seem a bit dull.
The lack of a proper villain in the film poses a bit of a problem given some of the iconic villains in the previous Die Hard movies, everybody seems to be more of a henchman rather than the big boss type that Alan Rickman, Jeremy Irons or even Timothy Oliphant got to play and the bad guys in this suffer from that.
I touched above on the stunts and CGI effects and I feel like these manage to make up the best and the worst parts in A Good Day To Die Hard. Some of the stunts, particularly the car/truck chase scene, are excellent and the way I wanted Skyfall to be done (in fact the whole thing is what I wanted from Skyfall but that’s a debate for another day…). As I said, I fully expected most of the diving and rolling around to be Jai Courtney’s role here and Willis to have a more witty banter spouting Terminator type part to play but the workload is pretty well balanced between them. However most of said stunts, and the movie as a whole in fact, lack any realism at all. Such superhuman feats include McClane Sr walking away from a massive car crash (at least three flips incase you think I’m overstating it) completely unscathed, McClane Jr taking a piece of metal to the belly after falling through 30ft of scaffolding, pulling it out and carrying on with his day and both men falling through a pane of glass into a pool of radioactive water and walking away again without a scratch. Things like that left me with a puzzled look almost permanently plastered on my face. The CG scenes were not well done in my opinion, they were far too obvious and made it look like it was trying too hard to fit in with the modern comic book movie crowd, definitely could’ve done without them.
Speaking of superheroes, when did John McClane turn into Clark Kent? The old John took a beating off of the bad guys and had only his determination and desire to do right to become a hero with, this fellow apparently has a constant supply of expensive weaponry with an infinite ammo cheat on and can’t actually be injured (getting a slap off of one of the baddies doesn’t count) from falling, being shot, being hit by a car or surrounded by deadly radiation. How he has transitioned from the ‘everyman’ cop with a passion for killing bad guys into an invincible one man anti-terrorist unit is beyond me.
So I would argue that this is not actually ‘Die Hard 5′, none of the themes from the previous films in the series are really present here. Instead I think A Good Day To Die Hard should be renamed ‘McClane & Son’ and viewed as a different film in it’s own right, that way people can see it for what it actually is without being tainted by nostalgia and their love of it’s predecessors and that is a half decent shoot ‘em up popcorn flick that can at least compete with it’s rivals at the box office.
Stewart Scott – @TheStewDog