‘A Good Day to Die Hard’ Makes For Bad Movie Night

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HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 0.5/5.0
Rating: 0.5/5.0

CHICAGO – The franchise has been in steady decline since the original “Die Hard,” quite simply one of the best action films of all time, but that still doesn’t prepare one for the truly horrendous “A Good to Day to Die Hard,” a complete waste of time on every level. Loud, obnoxious, boring, cartoonish, morally reprehensible, and just plain stupid, “A Good Day to Die Hard” is just bad, bad, bad. The movie bears so little resemblance to the first film in the franchise that they literally share nothing in common other than an actor and a character name (and this is clearly another script that was originally conceived as a non-franchise film and then barely forced into the series like a square peg into a round hole). If someone at Fox is wise, they’ll just rename this something generic before its DVD release and admit that this isn’t really a “Die Hard” movie. Just call it “A Good Day.” Or “Day to Die.” Or “Hard to Watch.”

With almost no set-up (other than to have our hero at a shooting range to prove he’s still got the goods), John McClane (Bruce Willis, looking bored as ever) jets off to Moscow to find his son Jack (Jai Courtney, looking like Sam Worthington’s less-interesting younger brother), who was recently arrested for shooting a man in a crowded Russian nightclub. Just as Jack is about to testify against a notorious Russian criminal named Komarov (Sebastian Koch), a trio of car bombs are set off outside the courthouse, a truck filled with soldiers deploys, and the true action of the piece begins in earnest with a car chase that would make Michael Bay roll his eyes. It turns out that dear Jack wasn’t actually a petty criminal in Moscow but an undercover CIA agent and dear old dad is there just in time to mess up a major international operation. Hey, he’s John McClane. That’s what he does.

A Good Day to Die Hard
A Good Day to Die Hard
Photo credit: Fox

Wait, no it’s not. When did the everyman hero who was forced into action against terrorists in the original film turn into someone who would give any Marvel character a run for their money physically? In “A Good Day to Die Hard,” McClane is not just able to outrun a helicopter shooting rockets at him, perfectly maneuver his vehicle atop crowded Russian streets (while committing roughly 100 counts of vehicular manslaughter), and fall from stories high without breaking a bone, but he does so with a wink and a smile. “A Good Day to Die Hard” doesn’t just require suspension of disbelief, you need to not know what “suspension” or “disbelief” means to enjoy it. It would help if you didn’t know what “of” means too.

This is about the point where an action movie-loving reader accuses a film critic of being too hard on their favorite escapist genre. Trust me. I love a dumb, fun action movie. And I’ve seen enough serious fare lately to truly need a blockbuster. I would have embraced “A Good Day to Die Hard” if the movie had ANYTHING to embrace. Trust me. I tried. There’s not a single funny or clever line of dialogue. Not a single worthwhile action scene that isn’t in the previews. Not a single fun plot twist. It’s the kind of movie that has a weak villain and no real heroes. Everyone’s an asshole, even McClane. There’s not even a worthwhile bad guy, long a trademark of the series. Alan Rickman, Jeremy Irons, even Timothy Olyphant – McClane needs an opponent. His opponent in this film is logic.

A Good Day to Die Hard
A Good Day to Die Hard
Photo credit: Fox

It makes a twisted sense that writer Skip Woods seems obsessed with video games (he wrote the awful “Hitman” and is working on a “Kane & Lynch” adaptation along with, wait for it, a “Hitman” reboot called “Agent 47”). There are numerous times when “A Good Day to Die Hard” employs video game logic, whether it’s in the wooden performances, misguided morality, or complete inability for anyone trying to kill the hero to actually do so. However, by the time that Woods and the truly untalented John Moore (“Behind Enemy Lines,” “Max Payne”) get to the final act, comparisons to cartoons and video games actually don’t work anymore. Most cartoons and video games are more fun.

Why not a zero rating? “A Good Day to Die Hard” is not offensively bad and I reserve that rating for films that truly offend the form. This one isn’t memorable enough to be considered offensive. It’s just stupid. Really, really stupid.

“A Good Day to Die Hard” stars Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Yuliya Snigir. It was written by Skip Woods and directed by John Moore. It is rated R and will be released on February 14, 2013.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

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