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A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)

September 6, 2013

3/10 Goddamned Americans

If ever there were a time for Bruce to branch out…

A Good Day to Die Hard picks up with our man John McClane heading off to Russia because his estranged son assassinated some guy and got thrown in the Gulag. Worst. Father’s Day. Ever. As his son is about to testify against a political prisoner as part of a plea deal, the proceedings are interrupted by a terrorist attack on behalf the guys who want the political prisoner dead. Lucky for John Jr., daddy-o shows up just in the nick of time and helps him escape with the prisoner in tow. Turns out, the kid’s been working for the CIA all along, which is a big relief for Pops here. But with the terrorists hot on their trail and some good old-fashioned backstabbing to be had, they’re gonna need to work together and put aside their differences if they don’t want to die…HARD.

To answer your question: I was on a seven-hour flight and the pickins were mighty slim. That’s why.

It’s too bad though, I was actually kind of excited for this before the reviews came in. Like many a folk, I have some pretty fond memories with this franchise, and even though things haven’t been the same since it “surfed the jet,” Die Hard‘s always been a safe bet. Even at its worst, it was still pretty fun. It just wasn’t until now that it became a truly mindless affair.

Although if you’ve had your fill of character and switched over to a strict cleanse of lemon juice, cayenne pepper and infinite ammo, well it’s a very good day, indeed.

Speaking of which, the one big complaint that I’d heard about this from my friend Sean was that John McClane is no longer a one-man army who makes the most of what he’s got. John McClane is now a walking, talking God Mode. Being that the guy’s gotten out of his fair share of binds in the past, I thought it would be a good idea to keep a running tally of all the ways he cheats death this time around. So without further ado,  the definitive list of why Johnny Boy lives:

– He dodges an RPG.

– He rolls a pickup trick half-a-dozen times…over other cars. Survives.

– He gets hit by a car head-on, then gets up without so much as a limp and chews out the driver like he’s Lieutenant Dan.

– He drives a Mercedes SUV off a bridge, lands on a car below and proceeds to drive that mofo like a monster truck over the other poor bastards that are stuck in traffic…all while on the phone with his daughter. Pretty inconsiderate from top to bottom now that I think of it.

– He survives a full-blown terrorist attack. Bodies everywhere, man, but not John McClane. He’s alright.

– He rolls aforementioned Mercedes another half-dozen times. Survives again. Double bonus: a great endorsement for Mercedes.

– He asks to be shot at, gets shot at, evades every bullet. Amazing.

– He uses an automatic rifle to single-handedly eliminate an entire Russian task force while firing from the hip and standing out of cover…twice.

– He evades gunfire from a helicopter machine gun that’s aimed directly at him…twice

– He jumps through a glass window, crashes through 10 stories of plywood, walks away with cuts and bruises. Son does the same, also walks it off.

– He jumps through a glass ceiling and into liquid fire. Survives.

Reading it all back, it actually doesn’t sound all that bad. Sounds like another day in the life of John McClane. But alas, there’s something missing this time around. That thing, dear readers, is the man himself.

He looks like John McClane and he’s still got that native New Yorker gruff about him, but being a New Yorker myself, the dude comes off as a shit ambassador. There are even a couple characters that are pretty vocal about how he’s everything that’s wrong with America, and the sad thing is that they’re pretty dead-on. Not counting his one amusing conversation with a Russian cabbie, McClane’s gone from an endearing wise-ass to straight-up loud and obnoxious. In a nutshell, it’s because of people like John McClane that everyone outside of the Big Apple thinks everyone inside the Big Apple behaves like John McClane. I don’t know what happened to the pride and joy of the NYPD, but the nuances that once made him such an endearing badass are now gone with the wind.

But that’s not really Bruce’s fault, that one’s on the writers and director John Moore.

The one-liners are corny, the pacing is a drag, the “clever” plot twists are deserving of the quotation marks and it generally takes itself too damn seriously. Case in point: the father/son relationship that keeps getting pushed to the forefront. I get it, John wasn’t exactly around to play daddy since he was walking around Harlem wearing the N-word on a sandwich board (yet, for some reason, gets along swimmingly with his daughter). Anyway, that’s not the case with John, Jr., so for 98 minutes, we get to watch them patch things up and bond over common interests, like being invincible and murdering people. Not only does it feel out of place, not only does it feel forced, but I couldn’t have cared less as they started to become family.

Seriously, who gives a shit?

Also wasn’t expecting the plot to shift to the Chernobyl disaster in the final Act. An interesting choice, for lack of a better word. And how many times is the good guy gonna get away because the cocky bad guy opted for torture over execution? Enough of that already.

Again, it’s really too bad, even more so because Bruce decided to be part of this. I like Bruce, and I get why he signed on being that he’s the face of the franchise and all. I just wish he would quit selling himself short. Nearly every time he signs on for something, he’s lighting up bad guys with a squint and a smirk. Occasionally we’ll get a Looper out of it, but most of the time it’s more of the same. It’s not the worst strategy to have considering that it’s usually not his performance that brings a movie down, although it really would be great if his turn Moonrise Kingdom wasn’t so against-type. The man’s A-list, he’s got nothing to prove and money to burn. Where’s the harm in diversifying your career?

Just saying, Bruce. The world is your oyster.

So from John McClane’s lackluster entrance to the ending that belongs in a Michael Bay movie, A Good Day to Die Hard is not what this series needed. It isn’t fun, it isn’t engaging and it wasn’t long before it all felt like noise. Yeah, Live Free or Die Hard wasn’t doing itself any favors with that PG-13 rating, but going the way of Rambo is no way to make up for past mistakes. Then again, mistakes are made to be learned from, and with Die Hardest coming to a theater near you, lets hope for Uncle Brucie that they do just that.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. September 6, 2013 12:52 am

    The last time I liked Bruce in a movie was so far back…I forget the name of the movie. he was a NYC cop who had to play games with a terrorist who was some kind of freaked out German guy (played by an English actor) who would give them clues where the next bomb was going to go off etc. Some of this was very funny in a black humor way and they did a great job with the special effects of the time in having all these explosions on streets in Manhattan..after that every time I saw Bruce Willis he seemed to be getting more and more macho and more and more stupid and stereotypical hard New York City person whom you find it hard to care very much about, he is a know it all who is too cool for school half the time when not being Mr. Super Tough Guy…being a New Yorker myself I cannot stand people like this and always having to be on guard with them so they don’t walk all over me–I think Willis could have quit years ago and the world would have lost nothing

    • September 6, 2013 9:18 am

      That’s Die Hard with a Vengeance that you’re talking about, which is actually my favorite entry in the series for a lot of the reasons you just stated. That’s also a pretty spot-on evaluation of BW’s career since Die Hard with a Vengeance, especially as a New Yorker. However, he has had his moments outside of the action genre (not counting Looper, which was outstanding). Unbreakable, The Sixth Sense, Moonrise Kingdom are three that come to mind, so the potential’s totally there. Dude just needs to start tapping into it more than he has. Maybe someday…

  2. September 6, 2013 6:23 am

    Teehee, I heard this was an absolute disaster, have not checked it out. Hahaha, loved the survival list!

  3. September 7, 2013 11:43 pm

    It’s one thing for a movie not to be good; it’s another thing entirely for it not to even try. This one had a strong feeling of the latter throughout for me.

    I mean, I may be the wrong guy to ask, because the only “Die Hard” I actually like is the first one, but still.

    • September 9, 2013 9:31 am

      Haha. That it did.

      And as much as I liked Die Hard with a Vengeance, the first one set the bar pretty damn high.

  4. September 8, 2013 7:55 pm

    I got my hands on this one ages ago, and like many, haven’t had the balls to check it out yet. I’m too scared to see my childhood hero ruined by inferior filmmaking. Such a shame they decided to turn Johnny Mac into a one-man God Mode (loved that line!) instead of the blue-collar copper in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    Ah well.. Hopefully Bruce will retire soon and we can all be thankful.

    • September 9, 2013 9:30 am

      Yeah, things have changed for John McClane. You’re probably best off just forgetting this ever happened. Poor Bruce. Poor, poor Bruce.

  5. February 3, 2014 5:39 am

    Loved your review. I felt pretty much the same. Expectations were high, but… no. And what’s worse: it seems like they’re about to make a sixth one.

    • February 3, 2014 7:58 am

      Ugh. Why am I not surprised? BW needs to call it a day already.


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