Action/Adventure / Reviews

A Good Day to Die Hard (2013) theatrical review

A Good Day to Die Hard poster

When his son Jack (Jai Courtney) is arrested in Moscow, John McClane (Bruce Willis) travels to Russia to help; of course, things don’t go as planned for the McClane boys.

The fifth film in the Die Hard franchise, A Good Day to Die Hard is the weakest film of the series.  While this doesn’t make it a terrible film by any means, it just cannot live up to the bar set by the first three entries, and to a lesser extent, the fourth film.  It is an entertaining ride, to be sure, but it just doesn’t click the way the others have.  This is due to a weak script,  piss poor direction,  and an overabundance of CGI stunt scenes.

Directed by the always reliable (to make a bad film) John Moore, whose directing credits include the insipid Max Payne, the forgettable Behind Enemy Lines (I forgot about it too, until I looked up his Wikipedia page), and the completely useless The Omen remake, he drags this film down with a pedestrian directorial style.  In fact, there is no style here.  Shot and edited in ‘shakey cam’, this film makes Michael Bay look like a brilliant filmic poet.  Which he is not. After Max Payne, how has this guy gotten another job?  He must work for dirt cheap . . .

The film is written by Skip Woods, the writer of such wonderful (do not mistake the sarcasm) Hollywood fare as Swordfish, Hitman, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine.  None of which were any better than ‘ok’.  So, we have a bad director and a hum drum writer.  It is an absolute miracle this film didn’t turn into a complete disaster.  Is it a disaster?  No.  It is borderline, though.

Honestly, what the hell was 20th Century Fox thinking by hiring these two to make a Die Hard film?  One of the most beloved action franchises in history, and they go with second stringers?  It honestly just boggles the mind.  Why would they not spend a little more money and bring in some actual talent behind the lens?  I do not know.  All I know is that when they do part 6, and they will, they damned well better get a decent writer and director to salvage the franchise before they completely destroy it by going the second string route again.  Come on, John McTiernan (director of Predator, Die Hard, Die Hard With a Vengeance, and The 13th Warrior), now is the time for your comeback.  (McTiernan hasn’t made a film since 2003’s Basic.)

Now that I’ve railed against the director, writer, and studio, let’s talk the film itself.

It is not bad.  It is not great.

The end.  Just kidding.

A Good Day to Die HardAfter seeing him for the first time in Jack Reacher, I have to say that I am impressed by Jai Courtney, who plays Jack.  He has  screen presence that honestly works for me.  The dynamic between John and Jack in the film is wonderful.  Jack hasn’t spoken to his father for 3 years.  And John regrets that, which is why he travels to Russia to help his son.  Of course, in typical John McClane fashion, he kind of screws things up in an attempt to make things right.  Jack hates John, that much is clear in the beginning of the film.  And Courtney sells it.  You can feel that he is disgusted by his father, calling him John throughout the film rather than dad.

I was also rather impressed by Bruce Willis’ performance of John.  He is getting old and he knows it.  He wants to make amends with his son, much like he did with his daughter Lucy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, reprising her role  from Live Free or Die Hard).  In the beginning of the film, McClane is tired.  He doesn’t come alive until the shit hits the fan.  Then you see the old spark of bull-headed John McClane who simply will not give up, whatever the case.  And once he is working with his son, he is fully alive.  It is a wonderful performance that I think a lot of people will not give him enough credit for.  It is very subtle and could easily be overlooked in an action film.  I’m glad I noticed it, because it actually made the film more enjoyable for me.

As a HUGE Die Hard fan, I was not completely let down by the film.  There is a lot to like, but there is also a little problem of bad direction and a weak script.  There are moments where it actually feels like Die Hard, but at other times it just feels like a generic action film.   If you are a fan of the franchise or action films, give it a shot.

**1/2 out of ****

You can pick up the Die Hard box set here.


One thought on “A Good Day to Die Hard (2013) theatrical review

  1. Honestly, I wasn’t as impressed with Willis and Courtney here. Willis didnt seem all that energetic… I know, I know, he’s getting old. But does he have to show it so much? LOL

    Thanks for pointing out what a mess the screen writer/director combo was. I should have looked in to that myself. What a god awful combo, no wonder this was so rough!

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