Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Good Day to Die Hard (2013) - Movie Review

I'm not even going to sugar coat it.  A Good Day to Die Hard is easily the worst film in the Die Hard franchise.  That's all there is to it.  It barely even qualifies as something resembling a Die Hard movie.  Here, I'll break it down for you as easily as I can.

The Good:
- There are some fairly entertaining, albeit completely ridiculous action scenes.
- There are several moments of unintentional hilarity.
- Mary Elizabeth Winstead had the good sense have barely a cameo appearance, so she comes out of this relatively unscathed.

The Bad:
- It's really freaking loud!
- Everything else!

I usually don't care that a film has loud gunfire or explosions.  Most of the time I like that about a film, but this was honestly so loud that I couldn't even hear the sound of my own laughter at certain points of the film.  It's the kind of loud where I think they were trying to drum out any kind of thought in your brain.  That had to have been the strategy, as this is one the dumbest plots (if you even want to call it a plot) that I've seen in a while.

There's very little about the film that makes sense, and I don't even think they knew what kind of film they were making.  We begin in Russia, and immediately it feels more like an international, 007 spy story.  There's nothing about the opening of the film makes you think you're watching Die Hard.  John McClane is always hanging around in Russia.

Spoilers ahead...

When we finally do see John McClane (Bruce Willis), he's back in the states, and has already tracked down his son, Jack (Jai Courtney), who's in a Russian prison for assassinating some guy we saw earlier.  John heads off to Russia, thinking he can somehow help him, even though they haven't spoken for years and John can't speak Russian.  Jack is put on trial along with Yuri (Sebastian Koch), an apparent political prisoner that has some incriminating 'file' (there's lots of talk about a 'file') that some other Russian official needs.  The bad guys blow up the courthouse, and Jack and Yuri are able to escape.  John just happens bump into them during their getaway, which is totally convenient for everyone, right?  Unfortunately, this distraction causes Jack problems, so he yells at John and threatens to shoot him.  He also calls him John instead of Dad, so we know they have issues, but we're never clear on what's the beef between the two.  I think it was something along the lines of daddy worked too much (frigging dads and their jobs), so he probably missed all of Jack's little league games or something.  John steals a truck and chases after him, despite have no effing idea what's going or knowing where he's going.  He then proceeds to cause major damage to the vehicles of hundreds of innocent citizens while keeping up with them.  I will admit it's one of the car cases that's fun to watch, but it's fun because it's so ludicrous.

They all get away, and John finally realizes that Jack is a CIA agent.  Now the movie has already made it clear to the audience before John even left for Moscow that Jack was clearly some kind of agent/spy, which then made me wonder, how was John able to find him so easily?  What kind of CIA agent in Moscow kills a Russian citizen under his normal name, rather than an alias?  It makes no sense at all.  Even after John finds out his son has been a CIA agent all long, he yells at him for never calling and letting him know where he was.   You know, because CIA agents should always keep their family in the loop.  No need to worry about blowing your cover or anything like that.  How is it that a detective and a CIA agent have no clue about the demands of either's work?

Anyway, they need to get this file that Yuri has, so he calls his daughter (Yuliya Snigir) to meet up with him to collect some key.  She shows up and John is immediately suspicious of her, but once again, the audience already knows why, because we see his daughter in the opening scene of the film with one of the bad guys.  If you're wondering, it's the scene from the trailer where you see the hot chick on the motorcycle unzip her leather suit.  That scene is even edited down to less than what you see in the trailer, so it's not even as titillating in the film, and it made no sense from a narrative standpoint either.

So the ridiculous, Russian villain has John and Jack captured and even though his orders are to kill them, he (literally) tap dances for them, and tells them that he hates everything about Americans, but gives no reasons why.  The movie should be over at this point.  The stupid villain should have just shot both of them and been done with it, but you know the McClanes are going to use this obvious opening to plot their escape, despite being surrounded by several armed men.  At least at this point, you'd think that John would have some smart ass retorts to all the dumb things the idiot villain is saying, but all John can do is force an awkward laugh.  This is because the dialog in A Good Day to Die Hard sucks!

This does not surprise me as this was penned by Skip Woods, who has written screen gems like The A-Team, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and Hitman.  This is the guy you give a franchise like Die Hard to?  Again, I don't even think he was actually writing a Die Hard movie.  I'm guessing he was writing something called "A Good Day for Daddy Issues", but then someone suggested changing it to Die Hard.  It really is some of the worst dialog I've seen in a while.  There's not an ounce of wit to it (a running 'gag' is for McClane to declare he's on vacation), and even when John finally says his trademarked line it felt totally forced.  You can always tell when you're hearing bad dialog when characters overuse a person's name or constantly mention their relationship to other characters even when it's already clear.  John says something along of the lines of "I'm your father" at least 15 times.  The villains say things that don't follow at all from what's happening, and switch between Russian and English even when there's nobody around that speaks English.  It's not just the dialog that sucks, the story is awful, too.  You never care about anything that's going on, and there are all of these forced father/son bonding moments, which may have meant something if had we had known at any point in the Die Hard franchise that John McClane had a son.

Oh, and here's the best part.  After their miraculous escape from the clutches of the incompetent bad guys, instead of contacting the CIA, they decide that just the two of them should stop their plan.  This is one of those times where they clearly don't have time for backup, but it doesn't matter when you're the effing McClanes!  They track them to Chernobyl in a stolen car that fortunately happened to have an arsenal of weapons in the trunk.  Jack scolds John for stealing, even though Jack was attempting to pick the lock of the same car.  So once they get to Chernobyl, even though you see all of the important villains in radiation suits (some of the lowly henchmen were not given any kind of protective gear), the McClanes decide to go in after them.  McClanes don't have to worry about radiation sickness.  To ease our concerns though, the Russians wave these magic wands all over the place, which instantly neutralized the radiation.

I wish I was making all of this up, but this is really what we're dealing with folks.  It's sad that director John Moore seems to know nothing about what made the earlier Die Hard films fun.  I had complained after Live Free or Die Hard that John McClane was no longer a cop, but now a full fledged superhero.  In the first Die Hard, John McClane was just a normal cop that got caught up in this crazy plan, but it was still somewhat grounded and you could relate to McClane.  Now he can do things that should kill a normal man.  As ridiculous as you might have thought Live Free or Die Hard was, at least it was still fun. A Good Day... takes it to a whole new level, and the franchise is completely off the rails.  This is simply incompetent film making.

I remember remarking to a friend before this even came out that just from the trailer it looked like Bruce Willis was totally not interested in the film, and completely phoning it in.  I have to say that I still feel that way after actually seeing it.  I love Bruce Willis as much as the next guy, but he didn't look like he was having fun at all.  When you contrast this with something like Bullet to the Head, Stallone at least looks like he's having a great time, and there's was some bite to the dialog.  I can't say I blame Willis, or even co-star Jai Courtney, having to recite this terrible dialog.  I'm sure they figured they were making crap while on set.

It is definitely not "a good day to die hard", but it is a good day for the makers of the film to kiss my ass!  I am genuinely angry this has anything to do with the Die Hard franchise.  A Good Day to Die Hard is easily the worst of the series.  It forgets everything we all loved about them, and mutated it into something that's just really loud and and super dumb.  Even if you're a "die hard" fan of the series, it's barely worth a rental.

1 (out of 5) Death Stars


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