A Good Day to Die Hard

Now, it’s very rare that the entirety of a movie and the franchise it’s associated with can all be summed up in one punned-filled sentence. But I shall try anyway: Die-hard fans of the “Die Hard” series will be upset, or glad, to know that after this installment, the series has indeed died…hard.

The beauty of living among such classic characters in this day and age is some directors will take them to bigger and bolder heights, refreshing them for bigger and bolder adventures. Just look at Bond or Batman.

But never has a director or writer treated a character and the series with such disregard and lack of passion. This applies not only to the movie itself but also his craft in general.

Before I get into the worst part of it all, let’s just rattle off the numerous rookie mistakes that are unforgiveable in any movie. Oh, this will be more fun than a good “Die Hard” movie.

For starters, much like a lot of action movies, there was not much of a plot and just more of a scenario. John McClane (Willis) must go to Russia to save his son who was trying to stop a bad Russian from getting WMDs. That’s all. Was there an explanation for why McClane—a city cop— HAS to go to Russia? He’s not James Bond.

This weak set up and progression were accompanied by loud, poorly staged action (How did they know scaffolding would be there when they jumped out the window?), sitcom-like humor and a horrendous excuse for an eccentric villain. Oh, yeah, throw a carrot to eat in his hand and have him act like an 8-year-old. It’ll be just like The Joker.

There was a new addition to the character in McClane’s son, Jack (Jai Courtney), who can be thrown up there with the likes of Jar-Jar Binks and Shia LeBeouf’s mom in “Transformers.” The only words from his mouth were thick-brained grunts and harsh insults toward Willis. The only explanation for the state of the relationship was that McClane “wasn’t around” a lot when he was young. So that gives you an excuse to treat him like that guy you hate whom your friends invited on the big camping trip and are making you two share a tent?

His presence also stole a lot of the spotlight from McClane, creating an uneven character balance. As my teachers would say there was no defining element. It was just all slapped on the screen.

But all those are small details compared to the treatment of the big guy himself. McClane has been transformed into a smug, annoying, big-headed dope with no sense of himself from the previous films. In those, he was just a normal cop thrust into dire situations where his goodness fueled his involvement.

Along the way he managed to demonstrate a subtle humor and charm deriving from the situation.

Here, he delivered a barrage of campy one-liners and “humorous” observations and an arrogant demeanor that contradicted his former self. This was on top of the fact that instead of approaching intense situations like a normal guy, he stood there, looked tough and killed many baddies with the biggest gun ever. Anything remotely like the McClane of the early films was gone with the rest of the series. It was like losing a bald father.

Watching this movie it was as if director John Moore and writer Skip Woods had never seen a “Die Hard” movie and just did things based on what they heard secondhand. The father-son idea was a great step toward a “Skyfall”-esque re-imaging of the series, but instead it was basterdized into nothing but a cheap, poorly made action film that happened to have John McClane in it. That was the biggest crime of all to those who wanna do nothing but just watch stuff blow up. If that’s you, then I highly recommend this film.

Grade: F

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