A Good Day to Die Hard Review

By Kayley Erlandson

In 1988, John McClane scurried across shards of broken glass with his bare feet and cemented his status as the epitome of “action hero” in the minds and hearts of the movie-going public. The last couple of decades have brought about a few changes. McClane retired from the NYPD and has a few less hair follicles than he did in the 80s, but he still won’t hesitate to reluctantly rise to the occasion if a terrorist threatens the well-being of the public.

In the fifth installment of the Die Hard franchise, McClane leaves New York and heads to Moscow to help his estranged, supposedly wayward son Jack (Jai Courtney) out of an international legal jam. McClane arrives and discovers that his son is a actually a CIA operative assigned to ensure the safety of a Russian dissident named Komorov (Sebastian Koch), who knows the whereabouts of an important key that is somehow connected to Chernobyl. A series of events forces the two McClanes to confront their differences while destroying Russian buildings and shooting up some ambiguous baddies together.

I originally thought my review of this movie would be positive. But as I sat in the theater watching A Good Day to Die Hard, I experienced an emotion I had not anticipated: boredom. I constantly had to remind myself to pay attention out of sheer loyalty to the Die Hard brand. It is like going to your kid’s Christmas concert and trying to pay attention so you don’t miss your child’s upcoming solo he’s been working on all month. In this movie’s case, there is no proverbial “solo.” A Good Day to Die Hard was like watching a bunch of other people’s children sing off-key for an hour and a half, because I wouldn’t even consider this movie a part of the Die Hard family.

One scene with McClane and Jack featured a prominently placed pair of mannequin legs in the background that I could not take my eyes off.  By the time I remembered that I was supposed to be listening to the dialogue and not pondering mannequin legs, the movie had switched to another location. I was not sure how the characters had arrived at the new place, but by this time I did not care. It is telling that the mannequin legs made more of an impression on me than plot.
Lastly, I can suspend my disbelief for the sake of a movie, but A Good Day asks too much of viewers when its main characters fall several stories through thick wooden boards (and an assortment of similar situations), yet escape with nary a scratch. A young man would have walked away with every bone in his body broken beyond repair 10 minutes into the movie, and Willis is no spring chicken. It would be comical if I believed the filmmakers had done this on purpose.

My reaction to a majority of A Good Day to Die Hard

The supposedly heartfelt scenes between father and son in this movie were some of the most contrived, cringe-worthy, poorly written pieces of dialogue I have ever heard in a feature film (and I’ve seen Batman and Robin). I found myself dreading the next words issuing from both McClane and Jack’s mouths.  There is a problem when the most likable character in the movie is a two-minute performance of the man playing McClane’s Russian cab driver.

Watching this movie made me feel hollow.  Everything I enjoy about the original Die Hard is missing. No New York, no Christmas setting, no good quips, no distinct or memorable bad guy, and no fun. A Good Day to Die Hard has a lot of bang, but isn’t worth the buck.

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