John McClane is back and this time he is in Russia to deal in his trademark mayhem and carnage. A Good Day to Die Hard is the fifth instalment in the Die Hard series directed by John Moore. However, this time it owes all its box-office success to a crack marketing team because this empty shell of a film is about as enthralling as a wait in the ticket cue.
McClane is in Russia to find his estranged son Jack (Jai Courtney) who is, predictably, in the same line of business as dear old dad – killing bad guys and saving the world. The loud and lengthy car-chase scene that makes up the first act sets the tone for the rest of the film, and what a far-fetched and ridiculous tone it is.
Jack is trying to protect a billionaire Russian fugitive who has incriminating evidence on a Russian minister candidate regarding the disastrous Chernobyl nuclear meltdown. John meets up with Jack as an army of mercenaries close in on the pair and so the begrudging partnership takes shape, strengthened by a cocktail of daddy issues and macho feelings. Inevitably, the enemy is defeated and world domination (or whatever) is narrowly averted by the shoot-first-ask-questions-later style of law enforcement.
Bruce Willis, reprising his role as John McClane, seems particularly disinterested and it feels as though he is simply going through the motions.
There is an alarming undercurrent of cheapness about this movie. Die Hard films have never been full of deep intellectual stimulation but have always been light-hearted action entertainment. In this film, however, it feels like there is almost no logical plot attached to the random and ridiculous violence.
Despite his most casual efforts, not even Willis’s trademark smirk and carefree demeanour can lend a touch of class to the cringe-worthy dialogue. It really is difficult to watch. There has never been a risk of any of the Die Hard movies becoming critically acclaimed masterpieces but they’re usually safe bets for easy-to-digest Sunday night time-killers.
It seems a shame that now a collage of bloody battle scenes and profanity can be poorly thrown together, have a label slapped on and sold as entertainment. Die Hard is an institution – love it or hate it, it does have a massive following. A Good Day to Die Hard has now smeared that institution with something that tends toward vulgar thuggery. Gone is the casual, well-to-do, understated hero who saves humanity and beds the girl. In his place is an angry old man who feels the need to show his middle finger to the enemy during a slow-motion falling scene. Tasteless and an absolute waste of time and money.