For action-movie lovers, the word “Die Hard” means crazy, great fun. John McClane in “Die Hard” series — the protagonist — is a no-nonsense New York cop with an itchy trigger finger. It’s not just that. He is also a guy who is always in a state of crisis. He is on the verge of divorce, in the 1988 Die Hard film. So, basically he always shows off to L.A. — find the bad guys and temporarily stays away from any crisis. For 25 years, as embodied by Bruce Willis, McClane has been the action-flick icon. This is a character which is ranked at no.12 in Empire’s “100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time.” He is Entertainment Weekly’s sixth in the list of the top twenty “All-Time Coolest Heroes in Pop Culture.” With all this acclaim and excellent back-story, John McClane is once again back in a movie titled “A Good Day To Die Hard” (the franchise’ 25th year).
The trailer looked cool. It inscribed all the kind of action sequences you need from a Die Hard movie. But the movie and characters exhibited everything you hate to have in a Die Hard film. McClane looks like Max Payne or any other character from a first person shooting game. The previous entries have been tenuously attached to something vaguely resembling reality, but this it’s a generic action movie and the mannerisms that made the series special at the outset have been leeched out or turned into obligatory inserts.
At the movie’s beginning, John traces about the whereabouts of his estranged son, Jack (Jai Courtney), who’s never seen and barely hinted at in earlier iterations. He is in Russia and is being held up in murder charge. McClane flies off to Russia to help his son. Jack is not just a murderer, he’s also a deep-cover CIA spy. He is on a mission to save a Russian prisoner (Sebastian Koch) who holds the key to some kind of super secret having to do with the melted-down Chernobyl reactor. And, McClane arrives just in time to prevent the assassination attempt on Jack and his fellow prisoner, Komarov. From there, explosions are abound, leading to car chases and big shootout scenes. Never mind the plot, it is just incidental and the needless convolutions of the story seem largely like mere ploys to cue more explosions and gunfire.
Bruce Willis, 58, still seems to be enjoying his outing as McClane, but indifferent scripting have streamlined him for nothing but brute, relentless motion. The partner in this movie (Samuel L. Jackson in Die Hard with a Vengeance and Justin Long in Live Free or Die Hard) is Jai Courtney, who at times makes us feel that he is central figure and John acting as his support. The original Die Hard was as much about Alan Rickman’s incredible Hans Gruber as it was about John McClane. From then on, Die Hard villains lacked something. This time, the villain is the worst case scenario for a action movie — too many henchman and no character. The disclosure of the top villain is anything but surprising.
Writer Woods and Director John Moore (“The Omen — remake, “Max Payne”) assembles helicopter crashing, bullets shattering glasses, body falling through space — all the mirrors of the original. The direction can be simply termed as “frenetic” — a barrage of noise and chaos. The action scenes — car chases, fights, big shootouts, and explosions — are handled adequately although it lacks in inventiveness. Action sequences might seem highly satisfying for a action-film junkie, but it doesn’t feel right for a Die Hard movie.
The studio must have decided that, ‘Well basically we don’t have a story but we have a huge budget and great number of Special Effects technicians. So, come on let’s make a action film.’ Bruce Willis hinted that there will be a sixth ‘Die Hard’ film. The next director who’s gonna do it should at least remember that McClane is a mortal action hero, not some cyborg.
A Good Day To Die Hard — Mindless Mayhem.