A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)

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.

A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)

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.

Ed Harris

A fan of less than great cinema since childhood, Ed divides his time between writing scripts, working an actual paying job and subjecting himself willingly to some of the worst films society has produced.

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  • MephLord

    I actually like this movie. It’s mindless random shit happening, but it’s saved by Maggie Q kicking ass as only she can. Her death scene was kind of lame, but she was the best part of the movie.

    • John Wilson


    • Cristiona

      Maggie Q wasn’t in this movie. She was in the previous one.

      • MephLord

        oh snap, you’re right. My comment then applies to Live Free or Die Hard, so everything else is still applicable.

  • John Wilson

    I like the fourth one. Sure it was PG-13. But it was fun:).

    • Thomas Stockel

      The reason why I didn’t see it was the producers forgot what made John McClain so awesome; he was the everyman thrown into extraordinary circumstances. All that driving police cars into helicopters and jumping onto jets? That isn’t the John McClain from the first film. It’s like the older he gets the more invulnerable he becomes. Like he’s turning into that guy from Unbreakable.

      • Muthsarah

        Devil’s Advocate: As Willis ages, it gets harder and harder to convince anyone (especially new audiences, the only ones Hollywood cares about appealing to) that he can play an everyman, yet still have him do action-movie stuff. He was in his 30s for Die Hard 1, but with him nearly 60 now, they either have to slow him down and make him more of a thinker, let the supporting cast do most of the hard work, or throw in a ton of effects and mindless flash to compensate for the lack of more relateable violence. He just can’t be shown to take the level of punishment he’s best known for and have it feel convincing to audiences who don’t know the character.

  • invisiblecrane

    I’m surprised no one mentioned the fact this movie got cut down for a 12A rating for it’s UK release

  • Cristiona

    “Now the fifth movie is out, sans PG-13 rating and sans Kevin Smith.”
    Aww, that’s a cheap shot. He was barely more than a cameo in 4.

    • edharris1178

      Yes, but that scant few minutes was more than enough to make me absolutely loathe the character.

  • Cecil_Trachenburg

    I’ll never understand why they gave this to John Moore of all people to direct. The guy has churned out nothing but lackluster, low performing clunkers.

    Behind Enemy Lines – Half decent action movie, probably the only thing he has done well.
    Flight of the Phoenix – Mediocre remake of lesser known film.
    The Omen – Horrendously dull remake of classic horror film.
    Max Payne – Water down, boring, action film based on video game.

    All of these underperformed at the box office and didn’t resonate with film goers. What were they thinking when they handed him the keys to a multi-million dollar franchise?!

    This is about what I expected from this movie…overcompensation. Well, at least there was some enjoyment to be had. I hope we get at least one more good Die Hard so the series can end on a high note.

    Thanks for the review Ed.

    • edharris1178

      I hope so too.

  • MephLord

    I don’t want to keep hijacking threads but is there any way we can comment on the Agony Booth merchandise? I’m in the process of buying a mug but wonder if a thread on the merchandise would be possible?

  • Sand Ripper

    John McTiernan was the only really good director this series has had. Renny Harlin, Len Wiseman, and John Moore are all hacks.

    The McTiernan movies also had the best villains. Alan Rickman is hard to top, but Jeremy Irons did a good job in the third movie. I can barely remember anything William Sadler and Timothy Olyphant did.

    I haven’t seen this latest movie, but it seems like it might be an okay cheap rental. That is not something a Die Hard movie should be, though.

    • edharris1178

      I like some of Harlin’s stuff but otherwise, I agree totally.

      • Sand Ripper

        I should have mentioned that I actually did enjoy Die Hard 2. Cliffhanger was another pretty good Harlin action movie. Most of his other movies were pretty forgettable, although Prison was an okay low-budget horror movie.

  • Oh, I’m sure we’ll get up to Die Hard 6 and 7 because enough morons will pay to see this..