A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)

I have to say it simply: Die Hard 5 is the ‘Kingdom of the Crystal Skull/Alien Resurrection’ of the Die Hard franchise. Compared to the films that came before it, including the much-maligned Live Free or Die Hard (2007), this entry is absolutely PATHETIC. The entire essence of what made the Die Hard franchise so appealing has been essentially bled dry, and this lame-ass attempt to squeeze a few more dollars out of the gullible, movie-going public is, and should be, the nail in the franchises coffin. I love Die Hard (1988). I distinctly remember the first time I saw it (too young, naturally) and was absolutely captivated by the film. When it was released, it amounted to a major game changer in the Action Movie genre and is frequently seen as on par with Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) as one of those rare, near perfect films that will never age due to the quality on screen. Up until Bruce Willis took on the now iconic role of Every Man New York cop John McClane, all the action heroes of the late 70s/80s were these muscle-bound, lug-heads usually played by Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Norris etc. These dudes were cartoonish tough guys who usually took an ineffectual bullet graze or two while mowing down armies of despicable, incapable-of-aiming villains in the name of revenge, duty, patriotism or…whatever. Then came Die Hard. Here we were presented with a new type of action hero: The Vulnerable Everyday Guy in Over His Head. And it worked beautifully! The story of a New York cop trying to reconcile with his estranged wife at her companies Los Angeles-based high-rise on the eve of a high-tech terrorist/robbery incident resonated with audiences everywhere…to the tune of massive box office clout. All the elements worked. The film looked great, the script was tight, the characters and situations were memorable, the action was gritty, gory and visceral and, most of all, John McClane was a guy we rooted for because he was one of us. Throughout the course of the film, we saw him endure all manner of realistic fear, anger, frustration, pain, ingenuity, resourcefulness and determination as he pulled out all the stops to save his wife and the lives of her co-workers from the ruthless German Bad Guys. Fast forward through 4 additions to the franchise and we’re left with this streaming pile of shit that in almost no way resembles the base fundamentals of what made the franchises best entries SO good. The idiotic story goes a lil somethin like this: So, it seems that Johns estranged son Jack (Jai Courtenay), who we last saw in the background of the first Die Hard as a 4 year old, has fucked off to Russia for some reason (psst!…he’s a spy) and has got himself arrested for popping a cap in some Russian gangster guy in a stereotypically flashy night club. John, with no consultation at all with international authorities and/or The US Embassy/State Department, just hops on an Aeroflot flight to Moscow to…do…something. We never find out what his original plan is. Within minutes (literally) of arriving at the court, where Jack also just happens to be (thank Gawd for implausible coincidences!), bad guys in a massive armored car lay waste to the area before taking off in pursuit of Jack and a bearded Russian guy of some importance, who escape through an amateurish bout of lazy script-writing. Naturally, John leaps into the fray and the three parties embark on a prolonged car chase through downtown Moscow. Much vehicular destruction, punctuated by a slew of childish one-liners, ensues. From there, John and Jack reluctantly team up to try and get Bearded Russian Guy out of Russia to secure information on the trespasses of some rival politician. Cue the father/son hijinks that take them through numerous, consequence-free gunfights on their way to an overly CG’d showdown at Chernobyl (of course) over possession of crates of weapons-grade radioactive material (again, of course). The ‘character’ of John McClane is pretty much totally absent here. It’s literally just Bruce Willis, looking surprisingly long-in-the-tooth, just mumbling McClane-like one-liners while surviving EVERYTHING that is thrown at him. I mean, this guy emerges unscathed from: a truck that flips 120 times across a line of parked cars, getting hit by a Range Rover, willingly crashing said Range Rover at high speed, getting shot at by an RPG-7, getting shot at by thousands of badly aimed bullets, leaping out of a window to plummet through a construction scaffolding, a good beating to the head, getting shot at by an MI-24 Hind attack helicopter, waltzing through Chernobyl with zero protective gear (even the Bad Guys are fully decked out in HazMat!), hanging onto a truck that hangs precariously from the ass-end of an out-of-control cargo chopper and then another high plummet through glass while pursued by a massive fireball to splash down into what was probably radioactive water, in a convenient pool below. There are probably more feats of Super Human daring-do but those are the examples that immediately leap to mind. All of it adds up to one thing: 20th Century Fox has COMPLETELY lost sight of what makes a Die Hard movie a friggin Die Hard movie. At his best, John McClane is NOT a superhuman juggernaut. He is supposed to be a normal guy who finds himself in dangerous, high-stakes situations that force him to act to save his own life and the lives of those around him. And he often ends the flicks in serious need of medical attention and/or therapy. But not here. No siree bob! The only thing missing here is a cape. He has more in common with Wolverine than he does with earlier versions of the same John McClane character, with his limitless ability to laugh off severe, crippling pain and injury. There’s a scene where John and Jack have a man-to-man chat after plummeting through a mile of scaffolding (while being shot at by a helicopter gunship!) where we see both guys each pull a broken-off metal bolt, with the diameter of my thumb, out of their bodies, resulting in nothing more than a joke about Tetanus. These wounds are never again addressed and slow the guys down in NO WAY. Speaking of slowing down, this flick is a horrible representation of Russian law enforcement. Cops are nowhere to be seen, most notably during the prolonged and highly destructive chase through the middle of Moscow. Not one cop responds to three high-speed vehicles, one of which is essentially a tank, smashing their way through traffic for half an hour and causing millions of rubles in damage, not to mention probably a good handful of collateral deaths. But then again, maybe they knew that International Super Cop John McClane was in town, so the ENTIRE Moscow Police Department opted to have a Vodka and Perogies Day, instead of hitting the mean streets. At the end of the scene a lone cop car pulls up…and is unceremoniously sent to his maker via a casual spray of machine gun fire. A huge chunk of the moronic bullshit can be heaped on the amateurish script-writing but I’m inclined to throw blame (like a fucking lawn dart!) at ‘director’ John Moore. This fat Irish bastard has proven time and time again that he can craft a decent-looking image but the substance of his flicks is nearly non-existent. Just look at his filmography: Behind Enemy Lines (2001), Flight of the Phoenix (2004), The Omen Remake (2006), Max Payne (2008) and now this colossal turd. Of all of his films, only Flight of the Phoenix was what I would call a decent film. All the rest are woefully lacking. So why in the hell 20th Century Fox thought that he’d be a good fit for this franchise is beyond me. Maybe they knew that after Live Free or Die Hard (which, strangely, is given legitimacy as a Die Hard film as a result of this crap) that it was time to put a bullet in the Die Hard franchise and what better way to do it than to take a hack director-for-hire and let him completely prison rape the series into pathetic submission. If that was the game plan…then Mission Accomplished!!! There is no going back after this. Rumor has it the the proposed next installment will take McClane to Japan where he will act The Ignorant American while remorselessly killing EVERYONE with his simpleton brand of blurry American Justice. Please Gawd…don’t let this happen. Let McClane die with this smeared fuckwad infection of a movie. There are many other gripes that I have with this lazy, piece of shit, piss-poor excuse of an action flick (the music, the bloodlessness, the bland, annoying villains etc) but I think that you get the picture. Despite being the obsessive completist that I am, I will go out of my way to avoid adding this festering insult of a Die Hard entry to my personal collection. I would recommend the same to any film fan with an iota of taste and self-respect. A Good Day to Die Hard sucks. Plain and simple. “Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker!”

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