A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD
John McClane (Bruce Willis) travels to Russia to help out his seemingly wayward son, Jack (Jai Courtney), only to discover that Jack is a CIA operative working to prevent a nuclear-weapons heist. Father and son team up against underworld forces.
Review by Louise Keller:
There is overkill everywhere you look in this 5th in the Die Hard franchise - as bullets pelt, trucks flip, choppers explode, glass shatters and buildings collapse in a never-ending display of excess. Excess and action supersede story and while it's good to see Bruce Willis as John McClane one more time, he is just a bit too cocky, the exposition too slick and predicated and all bogged down by unrelenting pounding of a heavy-handed music score. The uniqueness of the franchise with its anti-hero cop who always finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time has been hurled out of the window; director John Moore's film is action on steroids, accentuated by shaky camera work with an outrageous plot that is lost in translation in any event by undecipherable dialogue and weighty Russian accents. It's a pity it's not such a good day after all.
In a prologue that plays like Russian mumbo jumbo, the plot line featuring an imprisoned nuclear scientist Komarov (Sebastian Koch) and bad-ass Defense Minister (Sergey Kokesnikov) is established. Then McClane's undercover CIA son Jack (Jai Courtney) gets involved and there is plenty of time for us to ogle at Courtney's impressive physique. With his intense presence, Courtney is the perfect action hero; in fact, Willis's larger-than-life status seems slightly diminished alongside the buff Courtney. While much of the accent focuses on the tense relationship between father and son with Jack repeating the catch phrase 'What are you doing here' and McClane complaining ad nauseum he is supposedly on vacation, the bonding inevitably comes into its own.
Although hardly a family affair, McClane's daughter Lucy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who we met in 2007's Live Free or Die Hard, re-appears briefly. The scene in which she talks to her father on the phone draws laughs - he is navigating a high-speed stolen vehicle over freeways and other cars. Another phone laugh comes when he mutters something about his two year contract, when his iphone gets stomped on decisively.
Shot in Moscow and Budapest, the action shifts to Chernobyl for the climactic big bang finish where McClane states his intention to kill all the scumbags. Unsurprisingly, he makes good on his words. The pity about the frenzied approach to the action scenes is that none of it is credible and instead of inciting tension, it's all pretty routine and there is little at stake. Boys looking for full throttle action though, will certainly not be disappointed.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Die Hard makes the James Bond franchise look even better - for its commercial success, its cultural infiltration and its creative evolution. Die Hard started 25 years ago; Bond started 50 years ago. (Can you hum Die Hard?) I don't mean to disparage the franchise, but I am here to try and bury it. I hope that this is indeed a film that is good for it to die by, not because Bruce Willis has lost his mojo but because there's not been enough care and attention to its survival. It all seems so easy: Bruce kicking ass, plenty of stunts, bad guys that we want punished.
It's not so easy. This last (we hope) edition confuses mindless mayhem with action, edgy camerawork for a shambolic shooting style and borrowed leftovers from spy thrillers for story. Don't start me on characters...
Everyone is a caricature, everything is done for (hoped for) effect and the proof is in the crap sound mix which hides dialogue we want to hear in favour of M&E we don't. The warning comes early on, when some 15 - 20 minutes is devoted to a vehicle and infrastructure mangling chase in which nothing is clear, everything is destroyed. So boring.
The much anticipated Willis dad and Jai Courtney son teaming is overburdened with claptrap from AFA (Absent Fathers Anonymous) and neatly healed wounds thus caused. These cheesy moments are few, but more than enough if you know what I mean.
The senselessness of the mayhem is emphasised by the lack of an engaging story and the lack of clarity telling what story there is. It's a shame John McClane - one of cinema's iconic characters - has to go out with a whimper. His creators and handlers just didn't know how to close the book. But there may be worse to come: son of McClane.... Die Hard; Next Generation. I shudder ...
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A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD (M)
CAST: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Yuliya Snigir, Radivoje Bukvic, Cole Hauser, Amaury Nolasco, Sergey Kolesnikov, Roman Luknar
PRODUCER: Alex Young
DIRECTOR: John Moore
SCRIPT: Skip Woods, Roderick Thorp
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jonathan Sela
EDITOR: Dan Zimmerman
MUSIC: Marco Beltrami
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Daniel T. Dorrance
RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 21, 2013
RIVERSIDE SCREEN PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 6 consecutive Tuesdays, starts February 17, 2015 at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.