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.
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.