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A Good Day to Die Hard Nowhere Close to Series' Standards

  • Christa Banister Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
  • 2013 2 Feb
  • COMMENTS
<i>A Good Day to Die Hard</i> Nowhere Close to Series' Standards

DVD Release Date: June 4, 2013
Theatrical Release Date: February 14, 2013
Rating: R (strong violence and language)
Genre: Action/Thriller
Run Time: 97 min.
Director: John Moore
Cast: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Yuliya Snigir

In 2010’s surprise hit Red, which will be getting a sequel later this summer, Bruce Willis (Looper), along with the clever likes of John Malkovich (Warm Bodies), Helen Mirren (Hitchcock) and Morgan Freeman (The Dark Knight Rises) clearly had fun playing action heroes of a certain age.

And because the audience was in on the joke—even the title itself was an acronym for "Retired and Extremely Dangerous"—it was a pretty good time at the movies because the leads were allowed to act their age while convincingly—and comically—showing the bad guys who’s boss.

Unfortunately, the same simply doesn’t hold true for the latest installment of the Die Hard franchise. Not only is the script for A Good Day to Die Hard nothing short of underwhelming (anytime the story lags, it’s basically "insert campy one-liner here"), but Willis is a little like Mick Jagger back when the Rolling Stones played the halftime show at the Super Bowl. One can’t help applauding Willis for trying to relive his glory days, but they’re clearly long, long behind him like Mick and his geriatric wiggle during "(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction."

Looking every one of his nearly 57 years, Willis’s famed John McClane is once again in the wrong place at the wrong time when he travels to Russia. Joking that it’s his “vacation,” he heads to Moscow in hopes of bailing out his perpetually wayward son Jack (Jai Courtney, Jack Reacher). Given their rather tumultuous and strained relationship over the years, Jack is more than a little surprised when the man he calls “John” rather than “dad” randomly shows up.

As it turns out, Jack’s recent shenanigans weren’t just another random burst of rebellion. As a CIA operative in charge of containing a nuclear weapons heist in progress, he was just doing his job. Trouble is, Jack’s not exactly having the easiest job fulfilling the mission with serious global implications. So naturally, that’s where John comes in. Smelling the proverbial rat from the very start of the operation, he provides Jack with some very valuable assistance, even if Jack just wishes he’d get out of the way.

With an opportunity to bond through what John knows best—killing the bad guys by any means possible—Jack can’t help but appreciate how his dad “has his back.” And while family bonding is always nice, particularly in action movies which are typically light on life lessons, the bulk of A Good Day to Die Hard is nothing but elaborately staged, nonsensical action sequences that don’t have any of the “yippee ki-yay” of previous efforts. Worse yet, suspending your disbelief, a must for anything in the action genre anyway, has been taken to an entirely new level with nothing that happens here sharing any remote aspects with reality. Let’s just say there’s plenty of opportunities for totally unintended laughter.

If anything, A Good Day to Die Hard just shines a spotlight on how great Die Hard and Die Hard 2 were back in the day—and how it’s probably time for John McClane to retire somewhere warm.

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol: References to drinking and drug use.
  • Language/Profanity: Expletives, particularly the “f” word, as- and sh--, are used throughout, plus there are several scenes where Jesus’s name is taken in vain or paired with da--. A middle finger is extended. Several uses of John McClane’s signature catchphrase “yippee ki-yay motherfuc---.
  • Sex/Nudity: No onscreen sex or nudity. There’s one scene where several women are shown in their bras and panties.
  • Violence: There’s a high body count thanks to gunfire (some at very close range), strangulation, stabbing, explosions and choking of guilty parties—and some innocent victims, too. Dramatic car chases also cause a slew of casualties, as does a particularly volatile sequence involving an airplane.

Christa Banister is an author and full-time freelancer writer, specializing in music, movies and books-related reviews and interviews and is the author of two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers. Based in Dallas, Texas, she also weighs in on various aspects of pop culture on her personal blog

Publication date: February 14, 2013