Feature | Lights, Camera, Action! – A Good Day to Die Hard

By Derek Winnert 08.03.2013 1

Feature | Lights, Camera, Action! – A Good Day to Die Hard on Nintendo gaming news, videos and discussion

A Good Day to Die Hard (UK Rating: 12A)

Yippee ky-nothing. The fifth instalment of the Die Hard franchise is a bit of a dud but it does get a lift from an epic car chase across Moscow and viewers' residual sympathy for its ever-likeable star, Bruce Willis. Good heavens, it is one of those people will want to like; heck, even one of those that will be eagerly anticipated.

25 years on from the original Die Hard, sometimes named as the greatest action film of all time, the 57-year-old Willis is back as the iconic John McClane, the quintessential ordinary bloke stuck in an extraordinary situation, fighting evil scumbags to save his family and mankind. Well, that's why he's liked, isn't it?


 

Potentially quite interestingly, the plot puts old McClane on foreign soil for the first time, allowing him a few dodgy remarks at the expense of the Russian locals, as he turns up in Moscow to rescue his estranged son Jack (Jai Courtney, last seen as the sniper in Jack Reacher) who's been arrested by cops. It turns out, though, that Jack's all right and doesn't need rescuing. He's a CIA operative working to protect a government whistleblower called Komarov (Sebastian Koch) who's set to bring down shady politician Chagarin (which would be much to the latter's chagrin, it has to be supposed!). There's a tough-looking femme fatale as well, Irina (Yuliya Snigir), Komarov's lovely daughter, who enjoys the same strained relationship with her dad that Jack does with John.

This pointlessly complicated situation that leads everyone to a showdown at Chernobyl (presumably because it's the only other place in Russia other than Moscow that most have heard of) turns out to be just a silly excuse for the intense action. Leaving realism and reality at the starting post, the action's all comic-book stuff, which is either amusing or insulting according to taste. John and Jack naturally join forces after a bit of soap-opera-style bickering (as the film stops dead) and eventually they are jumping off buildings together again and again, and finally avoiding a kamikaze helicopter as they head through the air for the ground miles below. Spoiler alert: John falls in a convenient pool of water, thinks dad's dead, but of course he's going to die another day as he's just crash landed on the concrete by the pool and has only suffered a couple of cuts and maybe a bruise somewhere. Whatever Brucie's taking, can it be shared around, please? Why didn't they just build in super-powers for Willis and get him in spandex and a cape. Oh, well, maybe next time!

Time to accentuate the positive, though: the chase that took 82 days to shoot - over highways, through narrow streets and across bridges, destroying zillions of costly cars - is impressive, even if it goes on too long and could just as easily have been filmed in any town's rundown dual carriageway (Leicester would have done quite nicely). Then there's enough action throughout the shortish running time to keep the audience watching. Also it certainly helps that Willis and Courtney take it seriously and do look the part, appearing well fit and ready, willing and able to tackle scum.


 

Unfortunately, it's impossible to eliminate the negative, though. The dialogue doesn't give Brucie the witty banter he needs to sparkle, leaving him just smirking annoyingly, and the script fails to develop the John-Jack love-hate thingy beyond just going on about it over and over and having them both say cringingly 'I love you' at the end. Good, nay very good, actors though Willis and Courtney are, they can't vanquish the villainously weak screenplay, never suggesting 'real' characters or convincing that they are actually father and son. Like father and son? Like hell they are! Then again, the villains aren't any good and are despatched without any real effort or trouble, leading to an awful anti-climax. They are just not distinctive or campy enough; Koch and Snigir seem very dull. Where are Alan Rickman and Jeremy Irons when they are really needed?

[score=5]Whilst being all for light-hearted, escapist action, for once a bit more hard violence and foul-mouthed swearing would have done the movie a big favour and helped to locate it in the real world. This movie is too general and audience friendly, where a much tougher film is needed. Arnie and Stallone realised this with their efforts this year and hit the target spot on.

It's said Die Hard 6 is in the pipeline. Perhaps a little bit of a rethink's needed, however.

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I was quite looking forward to seeing this, but maybe I'll wait until it's out on DVD now...

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
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