A Good Day to Die Hard (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.