A Good Day to Die Hard

{A Good Day to Die Hard opens in Seattle on 2/14, and is screening at the Regal Meridian, Sundance Cinemas Seattle, Thornton Place, and Pacific Science Center IMAX. Note: A few of these theaters are showing 10pm screenings on 2/13}

I don’t want to be a hater. I promise you, I went into A Good Day to Die Hard with an open mind (yes, even *I* appreciate big, dumb action movies).

I love the original, revel in the cheesiness of the second, think the third works brilliantly, and even though the fourth was poorly constructed, I thought it at least had some charm. This, though? THIS. This is just. Terrible.

After his son Jack (Jai Courtney) gets thrown into a Russian prison for shooting a guy in a night club, John McClane (a lean-looking Willis) heads to Moscow to uh, I guess provide moral support? Even though he mentions that he and his son haven’t spoken for at least a few years. I was hoping it would be to actually break his son out of prison, but that didn’t happen.

But once McClane arrives, he discovers his son is actually a hotshot CIA agent who’s been placed in prison deliberately in order to save the life of Yuri Komarov, the former business partner of Big Bad Chagarin: a corrupt government official who basically runs the city and intends to assassinate Yuri before he can reveal a long-buried secret that will ruin his reputation.

It’s not long before the explosions, car chases, double-crosses, and McClane’isms start; unfortunately, none of them are very good. For instance, the line that gets repeated WAY too many times by McClane, “I’m on vacation!” doesn’t even make any sense. Because, he’s not. He’s there for his son. This isn’t Clerks, for chrissake. And John doesn’t need a new catchphrase.

Which brings us to young McClane, Jack (John Jr.). Courtney is impressively chiseled, and I know people love the guy on Spartacus, but I don’t think he has the makings of an action star. He’s lacking the charisma needed to make me want to root for him. There’s no way this guy—at least as written here—could take the Die Hard movies and run with them on his own.

And while I appreciated the old-school Russian villain plot, and thought that the few nods to the first film were pretty cool, this thing is a big ol’ mess. Fox, I’m sorry—but you picked the wrong people to resurrect your moneymaking franchise.

Director John Moore slams through every action sequence so hard it seems like he’s hell bent on destroying as much stuff as possible, and completely unconcerned with exciting the audience. There’s only one exception, towards the end—but mostly during the car chases and gunfights, I felt like I was watching the same scene over and over. As for the more personal shots, overused slow motion and long pans don’t make for strong emotional connections.

Screenwriter Skip Woods (who penned such classics as Swordfish and X-Men Origins: Wolverine) takes what could have been an interesting scheme and mucks it up with a bunch of trying-too-hard-to-be-tender moments between father and son, nonsensical quips, and bad character choices. He essentially sucks all the magic out of an established action hero.

This is not John McClane. This is a sad old man trying to reconnect with his estranged son, and failing to make me believe it.   

My recommendation: tomorrow’s a good day to skip seeing this incarnation of Die Hard.  Hell, any day is. 

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