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Review: A Good Day to Die Hard


Like many, the Die Hard series was a big part of my youth - so when the opportunity came to see Die Hard 4.0 in the cinema, I was delighted. Not only did it meet my high expectations, it proved that there was still life in the Die Hard series, near twenty years on from the first entry. However, with the release of the fifth film in the series, A Good Day to Die Hard, I fear the series may have breathed its last breath. Not only does it disappoint as a Die Hard movie, it disappoints as a competent action movie.

John McClane (Bruce Willis) travels to Russia to help his distant son, Jack (Jai Courtney) who is working to prevent a nuclear weapons heist. Be prepared for lots of references to John being on vacation.

Director, John Moore (Max Payne, The Omen) brings nothing fresh to the Die Hard series, with the aesthetic being reduced to that of a straight to DVD action film. However, I may take that back as it is a disservice to a lot of recent straight to DVD action films. Now we have an over reliance on cheap, cartoon-like CGI sequences that fail to wow due to their lack of authenticity. The three big action sequences (that the loose uninspired plot drapes around) lack the originality and playful chaos that one would expect from a Die Hard feature, and dare I say, feel completely boring.

The Die Hard series used to be at the forefront of fun action films and whilst they were not the most intelligent of features they were always entertaining and original - two qualities lacking here. Dan Zimmerman's editing spares no mercy, with choppy, fast-paced cuts that only serve to make the special effects look weaker. The same can be said for Moore's direction, which not only lacks a distinctive style, but verges on sloppy and incoherent.

The narrative also lacks the drive and originality of a classic Die Hard adventure. We are faced with a generic plot that makes little difference to the events in the film, with a sense of threat so weak that its difficult to feel anything during the tired action sequences. There are also some changes to the central character of John McClane, instead of being the smart, wise-cracking cop of the previous entries - he is now a loudmouthed xenophobe who fires out the most uninspired cliches ever devised.Willis should be the one redeeming element of A Good Day to Die Hard, but here, he sleepwalks through the role in what has to be his dullest performance yet.

The father-son dynamic is not one that works either, Willis's McClane feels like more of a supporting character to Jai Courtney's Jack - not something that anyone wants from a Die Hard film. This is perhaps the reason why Willis' performance feels so half-hearted and lacking in energy. Unfortunately, new leading character, Jack lacks any natural charisma, with Jai Courtney seemingly coming from the machismo, block-head school of acting. The villains fare even worse than Courtney and Willis - considering we have had such luminaries as Alan Rickman, Franco Nero and Jeremy Irons as series villains, the uninspired, over-acting  generic Russian villains here are a huge comedown.

A Good Day to Die Hard is essentially a steaming $92 million turd on top of the otherwise brilliant Die Hard series.  There are little to no redeeming qualities here, which is heart-breaking to say as a once proud fan of the series.

RATING: 1.5/5 

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