A Good Day to Die Hard Review

, Friday, 15 February 2013 00:00 Written by 
A Good Day to Die Hard Review
  • Director: John Moore
    Writer: Skip Woods
    Starring: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch
    Run Time: 97 mins
    1 stars 

Remember when Die Hard was good? Clearly the people involved in A Good Day to Die Hard remember it well since they're capable of throwing in a number of homages but somewhere along the way, they all forgot what made the series so good in the first place.

The reason the original Die Hard was such a seminal and iconic film is its simplicity. A confined space, a set number of terrorists and one reluctant cop caught in the middle of it. Bruce Willis was at his everyman best as John McClane, finding himself in the middle of some pretty ropey life-or-death situations.

Nowadays, McClane is basically a superhero and this latest instalment sees him flying out to Russia to find out why his estranged son Jack (Jai Courtney) is under arrest for murder. Unbeknownst to John, Jack is a CIA agent in the middle of protecting Komarov (Sebastian Koch), a Russian who has a Very Important File that is wanted by a generic Russian bad guy whose only character traits are his penchant for dancing while gnawing a carrot.

Rather than contacting anyone else about this situation, Jack teams up with his old dad to extract Komarov and his file. The plot that follows overextends itself, having the McClane boys face off against the whole of Moscow while throwing in numerous superfluous characters and twists that are telegraphed right from the beginning. 

Not that the plot matters. This film is all about big, loud and unrelentingly stupid action and director John Moore can't even manage that properly, throwing the film's most impressive set-piece into the first half hour as McClane gets in an inexplicably destructive car chase five minutes after arriving in Moscow. From there, the indestructible McClane family get into a one-note shootout in a hotel lobby, jump through a lot of windows and travel the 700 mile distance between Moscow and (a surprisingly non-radioactive) Chernobyl in no time at all. Moore must be pretty pleased with his action scenes though, forcing us to watch them multiple times from different angles and often in slow motion. 

It wouldn't be so bad if any of it was interesting or fun or enjoyable in any way whatsoever. Even Bruce Willis doesn't seem to be enjoying himself, sleepwalking his way through the bland father-son banter and constantly quipping that he's on vacation. Which incidentally, he's not, he went there specifically to find Jack.

It's hard to find positives at all in A Good to Die Hard. Mercifully, it only runs for 97 minutes and moves at a quick enough pace that it avoids being boring but that really is the least of this film's worries. Given that screenwriter Skip Woods' past credits include Hitman and X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Moore's last movie was Max Payne, it's hard to expect anything better. If this film didn't have Die Hard in the title – which it really shouldn't - it would struggle to make it to theatres at all and certainly wouldn't garner as much attention. 

Ultimately, A Good Day to Die Hard fails on pretty much every level, especially the neutered 12A cut that's been distributed in the UK which denies the simple pleasures of swearing, violence and the hero's iconic catchphrase. Willis phones it in and Courtney tries his best but the role is so paper thin you can't blame him for not succeeding. It's time to stop throwing the Die Hard name onto generic action films and just accept that the same shit can't keep happening to the same guy. 

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