A Good Day To Die Hard

Die hard 5

Move over DIE HARD 2, you are no longer the least laudable film in the franchise. That mantle now comfortably and quite firmly passes on to the latest release in the action series – the absolutely abominable, poorly titled A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD in which even Bruce Willis’ smirking charm cannot save viewers from sensing that this is not just the lame duck of an otherwise rather consistent pentalogy, but simply a bad film.

Traditionally, the DIE HARD films had never been about anything except rooting for the tenacity and indomitable will of John McClane, a one man army who took on the baddies with wit and determination. This template, considered wildly original at the time of the first films release 25 years ago, has often been imitated but never equaled and even though all the subsequent sequels were in some way cut from the same cloth, they remained endearing and entertaining on their own as well (including DIE HARD 2). This latest installment introduces us to McClane’s son Jack, a CIA agent stationed in Moscow (which seems to be lit by perpetual blue tint) on a clandestine, government assignment involving freeing a political prisoner.

When the operation is botched and Junior is sent to prison, Papa McClane hops on a plane on a rescue mission. In the midst of a widely publicized court hearing, where both Jack and the prisoner he was trying to free are being tried, an attack takes place bringing much of Moscow under the siege of gunfire and helicopter missiles. Father and son, resentful towards each other owing to their acrimonious past, team up and fight back, wrecking half the city, kicking Russian butt and cracking Yankee jokes, but where this is supposed to be exciting and adrenalized, it feels stale, familiar and exhaustive to sit through. A big part of the problem is the character of Jack himself, who we never get to know and yet are expected to cheer for from the very start. In a tiring-to-sit-through freeway chase that desperately tries to upstage MATRIX RELOADED for audacity and scale (yet completely fails) he crashes through walls, bridges and trucks to provide cinema spectacle, but all of this feels inert because the only thing we know about Jack up to this point is that he is John’s son, an association not strong enough on its own to make him the hero.

It doesn’t help that Willis and Jai Courtney (previously seen as the gum chewing villain in JACK REACHER, another turkey) share absolutely no onscreen chemistry. Granted no one would expect a Riggs & Murtaugh like buddy partnership from them considering their fractured familial relationship, but they were so diametrically mismatched that I was instantly reminded of how much fun Willis and Samuel L. Jackson’s character, a complete stranger to McClane, were together in DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE.  Willis himself functions on reserve, feeling less like the everyman his character represents and more like a wound up, senile old man proclaiming to everyone that he’s just ‘on vacation’. Perhaps it is time now for McClane to finally take a vacation, and a permanent one at that. Maybe a more fitting title for this episode would have been A GOOD DAY TO RETIRE instead?

Rating: ★½☆☆☆

About Faizan Rashid

A veteran Dubai based film critic, Faizan has been reviewing movies for nearly a decade. His work has been published in local newspapers such as 7days and on prestigious online websites such as MSN Arabia and wearethemovies.com