The harder they fall – A Good Day to Die Hard review

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By Simon Miraudo
March 19, 2013

A Good Day to Die Hard is merely masquerading as a Die Hard sequel, much in the same way Hans Gruber once tried to fool John McClane by pretending to be innocent American hostage Bill Clay. John Moore helms the latest failed re-incarnation of Bruce Willis‘ signature franchise, proving himself to be stunningly oblivious to what made the original great. In one of Die Hard’s best sequences, our scared, shoeless hero cried as he pulled shards of glass out of his feet. Here, he hurls himself off rooftops, into oncoming traffic, and out of helicopters without registering so much as a wince. (Yes, I know he also jumped off a skyscraper at the end of the first film, but he at least used a fire hose as a bungee, bled a lot, and seemed genuinely upset by the ordeal.) It’s the equivalent of Rocky Balboa evolving from scrappy boxer to The Hulk over the course of five features.

AGDTDH introduces us to McClane’s adult son Jack (Jai Courtney), who is being held in a Russian prison after an assassination attempt gone awry. John (Willis) travels to the Former Soviet Union with the intention of finding his estranged boy and bringing him home. It takes just 15 minutes for him to perpetrate Transformers­-level carnage. He discovers Jack is in fact a CIA agent (the “007 of Plainfield, New Jersey”), and accidentally interrupts his attempt to extract political prisoner Yuri (Sebastian Koch) before he can be executed by some nefarious henchmen in cahoots with the State. Father and son are eventually thrust into a very reluctant partnership to ensure Yuri’s safety. Thankfully, there’s no better way to bond in their family than by shooting Europeans in the face. NB: The villain of this picture is young Russian model Yuliya Snigir. It is not unfair to say she lacks the chops of previous adversaries Alan Rickman, Jeremy Irons, and, hell, even Timothy Olyphant.

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View it independently from the series – as countless 14-year-olds surely will – and A Good Day to Die Hard might seem a passable, not totally incompetent action flick. There are lots of explosions, a whole bunch of people die, and Russia is frequently reminded of its inferiority to America. These are the ingredients of typical Hollywood fare, and Moore combines them into something that just barely resembles a movie. However, Die Hard wasn’t typical Hollywood fare. It was something else entirely. Something special. 25 years and four sequels later, we get this. It may as well be the latest instalment of G.I. Joe or Fast and Furious or The Expendables or quite literally anything other than Die Hard (I will even pay it as an unsanctioned, off-brand follow-up to Hudson Hawk). We have enough of those. We don’t have enough flicks like Die Hard prime.

McClane himself – once the witty, quick-thinking detective who bonded with a beat cop over Twinkies – is now an unflinching superhero who daren’t look at explosions, no matter how explodey they might be. His latest adventure features a single flash of the man we once knew and loved, specifically when he tells Jack – as they’re about to invade a secret nuclear warhead facility in Chernobyl, of course – that he’s had “a good day” (despite having to frequently use his AK). Alas, that’s it. Skip Woods’ tone-deaf script has him otherwise repeatedly exclaim how he’s “on vacation,” as if it’s a punch-line so rich and hilarious it will garner even more rapturous responses on its second, third, fourth, and fifth utterances. This might indicate the screenwriter is actually insane. John later mocks Jack for maybe needing a little cry. The Nakatomi Plaza has never felt so far away. Die Hard is my favourite film. I only attended AGDTDH as a sombre obligation; like a relative being asked to identify a corpse. Die Hard 6 will no doubt be around the corner. I’m going to take a hard pass on that one.

1.5/5

Check out Simon Miraudo’s other reviews here.

A Good Day to Die Hard arrives in Australian cinemas March 21, 2013.

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