The Die Hard series of films has a particular feel to it. Though they each have been until this point a little different they all have the same core. It is John McClane in the wrong (or right, depending on how you look at it) place and the wrong time and having to risk his life to defeat some unhinged bad guy. We have loved the Die Hard films up to this point because they have that average guy/underdog against all odds coming out on top aura about them. Who doesn’t want to root for the underdog, right? If you add to that Bruce Willis is the underdog then in most people’s books you have a winning formula.
Watching director John Moore’s (Max Payne, Behind Enemy Lines) addition to the Die Hard series I kept having to remind myself that it was a Die Hard film. Meaning it felt nothing like the others. Something was just off about it. Now, that would be alright if you had a good film on your hands, but such is not the case. Going in A Good Day to Die Hard sounded interesting with John McClane on foreign soil for the first time kicking Russian butt to help his son. Simple story with plenty of action seemed in order. Moore does include plenty of gunfights, explosions and some cool car chases, so he is not completely ignorant about what someone going to a Die Hard movie expects, but he botches up the other facets beyond repair by a couple of good action sequences that the whole thing ends up as a disappointment.
John McClane (Bruce Willis – The Sixth Sense, Moonlight Kingdom) finds himself having to travel to Moscow to rescue his CIA operative son, Jack (Jai Courtney – Jack Reacher). The interesting part is that John is not aware of Jack’s employment by the CIA. Jack has got himself in trouble trying a rescue of his own. He believes that a Russian billionaire, Komarov (Sebastian Koch – Unknown, The Lives of Others) is in trouble due to a crooked high level government employee. A nuclear weapon heist seems inevitable.
To get out of the jam, father and son find themselves having to race by car to Chernobyl in order to locate amidst some radioactive debris a stash of secret files that will save the day. Sometimes the fact that John and Jack like to do things in totally opposite ways helps them while other times it might throw their whole save the day attempt off the rails.
Is it too much to ask that directors of action films also pay a little attention to the plot? I know we are all there for fights, chases and explosions, but a good story does help things along. In this case it made very little sense to me at all. Even the characters seemed to not be able to keep up with it. Making things suspenseful and interesting does not mean that you offer each and every character other than the main ones up as the bad guys. Doing things in this manner makes it seem like you don’t know what you are doing and just flying by the seat of your pants. On top of that a lot of it seemed rushed like they were just trying to get to the next action sequence because they knew they had made a mess of things but were too far in to change it around.
My heart kinda went out to Bruce Willis while watching this as he gives it everything his 57-year-old body can muster and it is still not enough. With the fifth film (Live Free and Die Hard) he was able to revive the most loved character of his film career and now has taken many steps backwards with the sixth Die Hard. Even his trademark sarcastic one-liners are weak and repetitive. Willis is not the reason the film fails as he is just doing his thing, but he is not given much to work with. A weak script and uneven direction brings about the downfall.
It was disappointing that this film fell on its butt as it has the interesting element of the aging (Bruce Willis cannot realistically carry on doing this much longer and make it believable due to his age) do-gooder passing on the torch to the younger generation – his son. With all the holes in the script the baton has been fumbled and I don’t know if a studio will be willing to pick it up again.