A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD
Running Time: 1 hour 38 mins.
Premise: NYC cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) heads to Russia to rescue his son (Jai Courtney), and the two find themselves in the midst of yet another terrorist plot that only they can stop.
Behind-the-Scenes: After the last installment, 2007's Live Free or Die Hard, took a lot of flack over the PG-13 rating, A Good to Day Die Hard reclaims its R-rated roots.
The Good: Early on, particularly during the first destructive car chase, director John Moore (Behind Enemy Lines, Max Payne) shows a refreshing commitment to practical, non-CGI stuntwork. (Warning: it doesn't last - by movie's end, the CGI takes over.) There is a kernel of a good idea here, teaming McClane with his estranged, equally stubborn son. At 98 minutes, it's relatively short and unpretentious. As a generic, one-off action movie, it's mostly tolerable.
The Bad: This is not just a regular action movie. It's a Die Hard movie, which brings with it certain expectations, and, as a Die Hard movie, it's downright abysmal. Willis, who is usually so enjoyable as McClane, seems tired and aloof here. The script does him no favors either, saddling him with not one good quip, just variations on the line, "But I'm on vacation!" (It should be noted that McClane is not even on vacation - he's going to Russia to save his son.) Courtney (so good as a baddie in Jack Reacher) lacks charisma and his father-son scenes opposite Willis fall dramatically flat. The villains are milquetoast and fail to make any kind of impression. The one plot twist the movie offers can be seen from miles away. Despite being set in Russia, Moore gives no distinguishable sense of location or atmosphere (which was such a strong component of the first 3 Die Hards) - just one scene after another set in some kind of warehouse. A Good Day to Die Hard lacks heart, smarts, and creativity. It's easily the weakest Die Hard entry, and should effectively kill every audience member's desire to see another sequel. A slap in the face to any true fan of the series.
Should You See It?: No. Talk about the law of diminishing returns. If Live Free or Die Hard was a pretty good action movie, but a lame Die Hard movie; A Good Day to Die Hard is about ten times worse on both sides of the equation. But hey - it's better than Taken 2, for what that's worth.
Rating: ** out of 5 stars.