At the Movies - A Good Day to Die Hard - review

Bruce Willis (left) and Jai Courtney in 'A Good Day to Die Hard'.

Bruce Willis (left) and Jai Courtney in 'A Good Day to Die Hard'.

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Just when I thought there was nothing more excruciating than a censored John McClane catchphrase I watched Bruce Willis’ appearance on the agonizingly bland ‘The One Show’ last week.

I’d just resigned myself to the fact that the precious 97 minutes I’d given over to Mr. Willis and ‘A Good Day To Die Hard’ were gone forever when my eyes were drawn to what can only be described as one of the painfully awful interviews of the year.

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Willis couldn’t have appeared more disinterested in promoting the movie but host Matt Baker’s sycophantic style didn’t help matters.

If Baker’s take on the movie was anything to go by you would have sworn that Stanley Kubrick had risen from the dead to direct one more film. Baker’s musings was hyperbole at its worst.

Now, on to the film.

‘A Good Day To Die Hard’ a.k.a. ‘Die Hard 5’ is set in Russia. The film’s tagline, ‘Yippie kay yay mother Russia’ has to be one of the most idiotic and vile ever to grace the world of cinema.

Ageing New York Police Department officer, John McClane (Willis - ‘Looper’ and ‘Pulp Fiction’) travels to Russia to search for his estranged son Jack McClane (Courtney - ‘Jack Reacher’).

No sooner has John McClane arrived in Moscow and he finds himself in the middle of a terrorist plot to abduct Russian political prisoner Yuri Komarov (Sebastian Koch - ‘The Lives of Others’).

Komarov possesses a secret file that has the potential to bring down corrupt Russian official, Viktor Chagarin (Sergei Kolesnikov). Chagarin dispatches his henchmen to kidnap Komarov and obtain the file but CIA operative, Jack McClane, has been tasked with protecting Komarov and making sure the file doesn’t fall into the wrong.

The explosive game of cat and mouse concludes with an absurd action packed finale set in Chernobyl and then thankfully, the movie ends and the credits roll.

First thing’s first; ‘A Good Day to Die Hard’ is a much better movie than the franchise’s previous offering, ‘Die Hard 4.0’ but that was never going to be hard. Let’s face it, Len Wiseman’s movie was tremendously appalling.

The Die Hard franchise are nothing without Bruce Willis’ enigmatic, white vest wearing John McClane.

John McClane was why so many fell in love with the franchise back in 1988 but 25 years have passed since then and probably because of his age, he’s not able to be as physically imposing as he once was.

Jai Courtney plays John McClane’s son Jack. Whilst Courtney certainly has a future in action movies I was never quite convinced of the chemistry between himself and Willis - I’ve pet goldfish with better father/son tendencies.

Dundalk born director, John Moore (‘Behind Enemy Lines’ and ‘Max Payne’) takes over from Wiseman.

Moore’s style is definitely much more appetising than the consistent awfulness served up by Wiseman but the movie soon feels utterly abashed when it moves to a finale set in Chernobyl.

The opening 30 minutes are entertaining. It’s set on the streets of Moscow and the car chase is by far one of the best I’ve seen in a while but my optimism was crushed about half way through when McClane senior and junior manage to jump from a very tall building and land safely.

All action movies require audiences to suspend disbelief - they exist to entertain after all - but when the film’s plot moves the story to nuclear fallout zone, Chernobyl, I actually found myself shaking my head with embarrassment.

‘Die Hard’ is a classic action movie and one of the reasons it was so appealing was because of its 18 rating but like last year’s ‘Taken 2’, those in charge of ‘A Good Day To Die Hard’ opted for the 12A rating.

I can only surmise that the reason this was done was to maximise box office takings but it’s a decision that has come at a cost - a decent film.

It’s hard to see how Willis or anyone else for that matter could even entertain a sixth film.

The film has a few redeeming features but perhaps today would be a good time to die and stay dead...

This week’s cinema ticket was supplied by the Brunswick Moviebowl - www.brunswickmoviebowl.com

VERDICT: 2/5 - The John McClane of 25 years ago was enigmatic and full on but it’s now 2013 and he feels watered down. The car chase at the beginning is a strong opening scene but that’s where ‘A Good Day To Die Hard’ peaks. Chemistry between Willis and Courtney is lacking and when the story moves to a grand finale set in Chernobyl you’d be excused if you wanted to leave early. Perhaps it’s time for Die Hard to stay dead...