A Good Day to Die Hard
Review No. 423
The Bottom Line: Find a good day to watch it.
Directed by: John Moore
Screenplay by: Skip Woods
Based on: characters by Roderick Thorp
John McClane: Bruce Willis
John “Jack” McClane, Jr. Jai Courtney
Yuri Komarov: Sebastian Koch
Irina: Yuliya Snigr
Alik: Radivoje Bukvić
Mike Collins: Cole Hauser
Also Starring: Amaury Nolasco, Ganxsta Zolee, Ivan Kamaras, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Megalyn Echikunwoke, Melissa Tang, Pavel Lychnikoff, Péter Takátsy, Roman Luknár, Sergei Kolesnikov
Distributed by 20th Century Fox on February 14, 2013. Produced in English by the United States. Runs 97 mins. Rated R by the MPAA for violence and language.
A Good Day to Die Hard was watched on February 18, 2013.
“Yippee ki-yay, motherf–ker!” –John McClane (Bruce Willis)
In case you didn’t know, I’m extremely partial to Die Hard. Many consider it a Christmas movie, but I’ve gone further. To me, it’s the greatest Christmas movie ever made, but it fits a viewing during any time of year. That movie came out two and a half decades ago; it’s now 2013, and the word “awesome” has been reinvented, yet again. No one wants to die known as the critic who reviewed I Am Legend as “one of the greatest movies ever made.” But no one wants to die known as the critic who didn’t know how to check his or her brain at the door, either.
I had a very fun time watching A Good Day to Die Hard. 1995 saw the release of Die Hard: with a Vengeance, the third entry in the saga. That installment was so abysmal, I’m surprised it was just over a decade later the next entry, Live Free or Die Hard, hit theaters. This was a true leap of faith: an aging Bruce Willis; the return of the “buddy comedy” namesake that had plagued part three; and a PG-13 rating that would be almost unspeakable for a Die Hard movie. But dear God, did it work.
I entered expecting something as outstanding as Live Free or Die Hard. Did A Good Day to Die Hard meet my expectations? No. Or I should say, not quite. The film is very flawed, but as far as I’m concerned, most of the flaws tie into the aim of the entire series: to sacrifice realism for the sake of erupting with fun.
Other missteps I was swift to get past. When we’re introduced to Jack McClane (that’s John’s son), he’s nothing like we saw him before. I know, people change, and people can change pretty drastically. The change in Jack’s character was immediate, as John’s prior mentions of him would never suggest any sort of “bad man”; and now he’s a murderous Russian spy, rude and juvenile toward his father, no less. But there’s too much else to really notice something even that uneven.
A Good Day to Die Hard isn’t anything special. This is an example of what the action genre really wants to do: focus more on fun than on story. He who truly believes John McClane (Bruce Willis), a New York cop, would travel all the way to Russia on a vacation, particularly when he doesn’t speak a word of their language (though this is a catalyst for several of the film’s memorable humorous moments)–is lost. Numerous examples of action flicks, however, can so easily forget to have fun, and we’re left with a violent, pointless sleeping pill. The more-than-ninety minutes of exhilaration are what set A Good Day Die Hard apart from those titles.