In 2007, the fourth Die Hard movie was released, and the populace went “Eh, not bad, but it’s really not what it needed to be.” Now the fifth movie is out, sans PG-13 rating and sans Kevin Smith. Unfortunately, it’s also missing a good villain, character development, a decent script, unique action sequences, and most of the trademarks one expects from the series. You know, like the list I just made.
Bruce Willis is back as John McClane, and this time he’s in Russia trying to help out his wayward son Jack (Jai Courtney). Turns out Jack is a CIA operative trying to protect a political prisoner (Sebastian Koch), and of course, it’s nowhere as easy as it seems.
The big problem with the movie is that it’s all action and no plot. I like a good mindless action film as much as the next guy (lord knows I’ve written about enough of them in the past), but I also like to have a little something to chew on as well.
The majority of the film is bland action scene after bland action scene as John and Jack do a lot of shooting, a little talking, and a little bantering. Rinse, lather, repeat. This would be fine if the action scenes were at all memorable, but apart from a fairly neat car chase and an acceptable rooftop finale that gives us a nicely gory death by helicopter blade, it’s just the same kind of shootout over and over. Director John Moore gives us the same thing over and over again for the most part, just turning up the volume a bit each time.
Also problematic is the lack of a good villain, or even a central one, for that matter. At first, it seems to be this politician who wants the prisoner dead, then it seems to be his daughter and another guy, then there’s a late third act plot twist I won’t reveal for the benefit of those who wish to pay ten bucks to be let down, that belongs in a much better movie.
It really says something that I saw the movie the same day I’m writing this, and I can’t remember anybody’s name outside of the McClanes.
But all this would be sort of okay if not for the complete lack of chemistry between Willis and Jai Courtney. I never believed for one second these two were father and son. They come off as more of a bad buddy cop routine than anything, and all of their dramatic scenes ring hollow. Making it even more glaring is that Mary Elizabeth Winstead appears briefly as John’s daughter from the previous movie, and she exhibits just as much chemistry with Willis as she did the last time out.
I have to wonder if some stuff was cut out, since the film runs a lean 97 minutes, roughly a half hour less than most of the other four. A Good Day to Die Hard is really only worth watching as mindless, turn-off-your-brain entertainment. Hell, even Bruce doesn’t seem as into it as one would hope; he just does his usual wiseass routine, which is entertaining enough, just not enough to salvage things. It’s not a very good Die Hard film. In fact, it sort of makes me look back fondly at the fourth one.
And that is not a good thing.