At some point, you have to accept your own limitations. Unfortunately, the executives over at 20th Century Fox refuse to accept theirs. 20th Century Fox’s “A Good Day to Die Hard” is another example of how greed can tarnish even the most beloved franchise’s reputation. Bruce Willis has become too old to play tough as nails cop John McClane. Like “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” “A Good Day to Die Hard” leaves a permanent stain on the once critically acclaimed and commercially successful franchise. Willis isn’t solely to blame for the movie’s awfulness. It’s a combination of unconvincing performances, a superficial script and poor directing.
After receiving word that his only son is being held in a Russian prison, John McClane (Bruce Willis) travels to Moscow to try and help him. After a failed attack on a Moscow courthouse by a group of terrorists, McClane soon realizes his son is not who he thought he was. Turns out, Jack McClane (Jai Courtney) is a CIA agent tasked with bringing a former Russian terrorist back to America. When Jack’s partner is killed, McClane must step in to help his son defeat the bad guys.
Willis phones in his performance, doing the best John McClane impression he can muster. His son, played by newcomer Courtney, is nothing more than an overworked meathead. Courtney does more flexing than he does acting, and that’s the movie’s second biggest problem. If 20th Century Fox was hoping to find a replacement for Willis, Courtney just isn’t the guy. He doesn’t possess the same charisma or bravado that Willis is famous for.
It’d be unfair to compare “A Good Day to Die Hard’s” bad guys to Alan Rickman’s performance in the original “Die Hard.” While Rickman played a ruthless villain, the terrorists are merely thugs disguised as masterminds.
The script, written by Skip Woods, is a lesson in how not to write a screenplay. Woods may have you believe his script is simply style over substance, but really the script is packed with long action sequences and minimal dialogue. John and Jack share a few father/son moments throughout the film, but none capture, or even explain, the strain between the two. Still, it’s hard to convey emotion in a script when the actors are nothing more than cardboard cutouts.
I can easily suspend my disbelief for the sake of a movie, TV show or novel, but the action sequences in “A Good Day to Die Hard” defy even the loosest of logic. Keep in mind that the film takes place over the course of a day, so I was laughing out loud midway through after Willis survived his third brush with death. A lot of the action sequences must have used CGI from the 1980’s to create some of the death defying moments because all of them look incredibly unreal.
If you’re a fan of the “Die Hard” franchise, do yourself a favor and skip this fifth, and likely final installment. Doing so will preserve your admiration for John McClane.
Catch Mikes review.