by Katie Gile
NYPD officer John McClane is at it again, folks!
For those unfamiliar with the gun-totin’, wise-crackin’, all-around badass antics of John McClane, rent “Die Hard” and its sequels.
McClane’s infamous lines, most notably “Yippee-Ki-Yay, Mother****er,” are back in Director John Moore’s “A Good Day to Die Hard” along with a plethora of bullets, stunts and car chases.
Like its predecessor “Live Free or Die Hard,” this movie keeps it in the family, introducing McClane’s wayward son Jack. When John visits his recently arrested son in Russia, he finds the situation is far more complicated. Much to his father’s surprise, Jack has taken up the “McClane thing” of killing bad guys, except as a CIA operative.
Through 97 minutes of tremendous suspension of disbelief, father and son team up to take on a bevy of Russian baddies.
Screenwriters Skip Woods and Roderick Thorpe deliver a pulse-pounding script. Using adrenaline like a blunt instrument, they pound at the audience with one outrageous action sequence after another, including an absurdly lengthy car chase sequence early on in the film.
However, fans of car action sequences like those found in the “Fast & Furious” franchise, are not likely to appreciate those in this film. The car chasing and wrecking seems only to exist to bring us to another plot point and feels contrived. And because of the shaky and often dizzying cinematography, it’s often quite difficult to see what’s happening. Overall, the action aesthetic is just messy.
Unfortunately, “A Good Day to Die Hard” lacks even a shadow of the first movie’s style. “Die Hard” succeeded in presenting an unlikely hero who happened upon a dangerous situation, who looked beat up when he was beat up and felt the pain of shattered glass in his bare feet.
But these two heroes were a little too hard to believe. After injuries that would conquer even the toughest Navy SEAL, Jack and John were jumping around like kids on the playground. Their tough-guy lines and self-aware remarks about the invincibility of the McClanes came across as cheesy instead of clever. And just as the movie danced close to a possible “Dies Hard” homage or consecutive grains of plausibility, father and son would fall through 60 stories of boards, glass and metal, then live to tell the tale. While a little suspension of disbelief is expected of an action flick, this pushed it big time.
Bruce Willis reprised the role of John McClane well. Age and experience seem to have mellowed the cowboy, balancing his appropriately gruff mannerisms with quiet, fiery wisdom. As a father to Jack in a “non-hugging” family, Willis is realistic yet surprisingly tender.
Playing the smart-mouthed Jack McClane, Jai Courtney established himself well as the possible carrier of a future “Die Hard” torch. Courtney’s grounded and somewhat subtle approach to McClane was reminiscent of Bruce Willis’ take on the character in the first movie. As a son to John, Courtney was a representative of his generation and gave the series somewhere new to go.
As a team, their styles of action and being collide, which results in a very fun show for the audience. While Jack brings strict adherence to rules and is generally tech-savvy, John revives the cowboy style with grit and readiness to improvise. Together, their numerous action scenes together elicit lots of laughs and groans from the audience. And though most of their antics are nearly impossible to believe, it’s still a great time watching them work together.
Overall, “A Good Day to Die Hard” was a good piece of fun. Its solid performances didn’t quite compensate for writing missteps, but succeeded in moments between father and son. And while it’s more akin to brainless action flicks than the substantial excitement and intrigue of the first movie, it’s still a watchable way to spend an hour and a half.
A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD movie review
by Katie Gile