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precarious since 1997 | by maryann johanson

A Good Day to Die Hard (review)

A Good Day to Die Hard red light Bruce Willis Jai Courtney

I’m “biast” (pro): love Bruce Willis, love the early Die Hard flicks…

I’m “biast” (con): …but the last one left a lot to be desired

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)


This is the worst Jason Bourne movie yet. What were they thinking?

Wait, what? This is supposed to be a Die Hard movie? That can’t be. It starts out all, like, CIA crap, shaky zooms on worried wonks in supertech control rooms on one side of the planet and an opening gambit that I swear is swiped directly — if inexpertly — from the infinitely superior Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, with a field agent getting himself thrown into a Moscow prison in order to help rescue a political prisoner–

Wait, what? Moscow? That’s even farther outside John McClane’s jurisdiction than Nakatomi Tower.

So that’s it, then? They’ve given up on any feeling of Die Hard-ness and just gone for a bland generic action pudding. Well, bland pudding that manages to be sociopathic at the same time. Like with the demolition-derby car chase through Moscow that, among other outrages, totals every parked car in the city. It’s a prolonged orgy of automobile destruction — it’s car-crash porn that’s not in the least bit erotic. Director John Moore (Max Payne, The Omen) demolishes with all the rage of a petulant toddler and none of the panache of, say, Godzilla.

This is the sort of dumbed-down junk in which former NYPD cop John McClane (Bruce Willis: The Expendables 2, The Cold Light of Day) can arrive in Moscow expecting to visit his estranged son, Jack (Jai Courtney: Jack Reacher), in prison only to screw up Jack’s CIA extraction (which leads to that demolition orgy). And then as the McClane boys continue to run around shooting scumbags and getting in some good — read: awkward and unconvincing — father-son bonding, the elder can complain to the scumbags ruining his day, “I’m on vacation.” That he’s not, in fact, on vacation is bad enough, and makes this pathetic wheeze of a would-be one-liner inexcusable. Screenwriter Skip Woods (The A-Team, X-Men Origins: Wolverine) should be ashamed. But contrast it with the original Die Hard’s “Come out to the coast, we’ll get together, have a few laughs…” which dripped with sarcastic wit and self-deprecation.

There’s no wit here. Instead of the charming wiseass New Yorker McClane once was, now he’s an ugly American abroad; the film invites us to be ugly right along with him, since we’re intended to laugh with him, not at him, as he insults random non-scumbag Muscovites. Instead of the clever play on cultural fears and the predictability of police playbooks that Die Hard gave us — Hans Gruber’s phone call to the FBI demanding the release of random terrorists he read about in Time magazine as a distraction is a brilliant bit of cinema — Good Day unironically indulges anxieties over terrorism with its sliding scale of nefarious badness that starts out cartoonish — blowing up the main courthouse in Moscow — and ends at a place that is downright science fictional on a level with Marvin the Martian (and without any indication that the movie realizes this).

There are two lines of dialogue here — one spoken by Courtney, the other by a lady scumbag (Yuliya Snigir) — that are so ludicrous that they could well be something Marvin would have intoned. I can’t imagine how the actors did not bust out in guffaws delivering them in much the same way that the crowd I endured this with did when we heard them.

The Idiocracy has descended, and shit is all fucked up.


A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)
US/Can release: Feb 14 2013
UK/Ire release: Feb 14 2013

Flick Filosopher Real Rating: rated DHD: it died hardest, and now it’s dead
MPAA: rated R for violence and language
BBFC: rated 12A (contains strong language and moderate action violence)

viewed in 2D
viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

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