Yippie Ki, Meh! A Good Day to Die Hard.

Bitter, Bitter Balcony, Movie Review, A Good Day to Die Hard 2013Skip WoodsJohn MooreBruce Willis, Jai Courtney Bitter,Bitterometer,meter A Good Day to Die Hard(2013)

As I contemplated “A Good Day to Die Hard,” I came with two simple conclusions about this borderline Looney Tunes action buffet of a movie. First, I love John McClane (Bruce Willis). This wisecracking, ill-tempered, hairline receding anti-hero is still fun even after twenty five years since the first “Die Hard.” Willis channels McClane’s cold sore antagonism towards his rivals to perfection. His performance is the only reason to keep making these films (they should have stopped at “Die Hard: With a Vengeance”). Second, from now on, these movies should not have “Die” in the title. “Die” implies the plausibility, however remote, that McClane could actually, eh, die. Besides some minor flesh wounds to splash a little blood around Willis’s bald head, no real damaging injuries occur to a fifty-something year old driving a vehicle that flips five times in mid-air before a harrowing crash on top of other vehicles, gets shot at TWICE from a fully armed chopper helicopter, all while leaping, and surviving, outrageous distances from buildings. I realize suspension of disbelief left this series a long time ago. However, I also realize, from McClane’s previous adventure “Live Free or Die Hard,” once you “kill a helicopter with a car,” logic is as expendable as a long-haired German mercenary.

“A Good Day to Die Hard,” is the fifth entry of McClane’s lifelong crusade to push insurance companies towards bankruptcy. This time, McClane travels to Russia to seek out his troubled son Jack (Jai Courtney), who awaits trial for a murder. But when McClane arrives at the courthouse, he ends up in the middle of a terrorist attack meant to capture Komarov (Sebastian Koch), a businessman whose confession would expose a powerful corporation’s darkest secret. McClane also discovers Jack is an undercover C.I.A operative sent to protect Komarov. Angry and confused, Jack begrudgingly accepts McClane’s help, as they must rescue Komarov from Alik (Radivoje Bukvic), a mercenary assigned to recover a code from Komarov that can open the vault to countless crates of Uranium, opening the floodgates to a black market of nuclear weaponry. Something like that. What does it matter? The whole point of this thin plot is to have McClane and Junior kill a bunch of Russians, and yes, a bunch of Russians do meet their end, either shot to pieces or even better, slashed by a helicopter’s rear blade.

“A Good Day To Die Hard” should be screened at every NRA meeting as proof that guns are not only cool, but are great bonding devices for estranged fathers and sons (but mostly, that guns are cool). Any semblance of engagement between McClane and Jack (a solid Jai Courtney despite his severely underwritten role) is withered away one bullet-ridden encounter at a time. A contrived narrative devise tries to contrast the McClane tandem's hostile relationship with the seemingly affectionate one between Komarov and is daughter Irina (the ridiculously hot Yuliya Snigir), but not much comes from it except sex appeal to go alongside the boom. Mind you, “Die Hard” is that last place to seek out pathos, but the better movies in this series were driven by relationships, either with Holly (Bonnie Bedelia in “Die Hard”) or Zeus (Samuel L. Jackson in “Die Hard: With A Vengeance”). Here, writer Skip Woods (“The A Team”) spoils a chance to give this film a heart, instead copying a faint facsimile of former entries, sans wit and empathy.

John Moore, an action and horror fare veteran (the remakes of “Flight of the Phoenix” and “The Omen,” “Max Payne”) directs a furiously paced film that takes all the good elements of a “Die Hard” movie and cramps it into a visually impressive but nonsensical hour and a half combustible lump. During the movie’s climax, McClane lifts his middle finger towards the kamikaze helicopter that narrowly misses crushing him and Jack. The scene is already preposterous enough, but McClane’s vulgar punctuation seems as much directed towards this franchise itself as to his adversary. Moore takes all the cleverness and craft that John McTiernan masterfully instilled and bastardizes “Die Hard” into a cartoon. Too bad, because “Die Hard” left a high standard that set it apart from the common action extravaganza. And while “A Good Day to Die Hard” is still held afloat by the charismatic Bruce Willis, perhaps it is time for McClane to collect his NYPD pension.


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A Good Day to Die Hard

A Good Day to Die Hard2013Skip WoodsJohn MooreBruce Willis, Jai Courtney  A Good Day to Die Hard2013Skip WoodsJohn MooreBruce Willis, Jai Courtney  A Good Day to Die Hard2013Skip WoodsJohn MooreBruce Willis, Jai Courtney  A Good Day to Die Hard2013Skip WoodsJohn MooreBruce Willis, Jai Courtney 

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