A Good Day To Die Hard Review By Adam
More like Try-Hard with a Vengeance. This latest entry in the durable Die Hard franchise is less like a film and more like a gigantic coffin nail. A Good Day isn’t just a substandard sequel (something that 20th Century Fox seems to specialise in), but seems to be made by people who haven’t even seen the original 1986 film on which theirs is based (just like another Fox ‘classic’, Aliens Vs Predator). And if I am wrong and they have seen Die Hard, well then they have an open contempt for that film, as this piece of shit has zero understanding of what made the original film great. Gone is the inventiveness, the suspense, the clever villains. Instead we get bucketloads of CGI, indecipherable action and carrot chomping eurotrash. John McClane is one of cinema’s most resilient characters but after defusing bombs, surviving divorce, kicking alcoholism and wrestling a Harrier jet, he has found the one opponent that he cannot conquer: shitty filmmaking.
The latest misadventure of ‘Detective’ John McClane (seriously, for someone who has been a cop for 36 years, McClane shows about as much criminal intuition as Rihanna) sees the bald one heading to Russia to reconnect with his son, Jack (Jai Courtney). Unfortunately, when McClane finds Junior, he is not slurping borsch at the Kremlin, but instead is languishing in prison for attempted murder. It’s all a ruse you see, as Jack is bona fide CIA, and is using his false identity to get close to whistleblower Yuri Komarov (Sebastian Koch). After surviving a (non-sensical) attack on the courthouse that is holding them, Jack and Yuri team up with McClane Snr. Hunted from all sides, the trio try to figure out an exit strategy, all while causing more damage to Russia than a two-for-one day at the Smirnoff distillery.
Problem number one: the plot. The minute A Good Day’s crappy title sequence begins, it is apparent: this is not a Die Hard film. It is instead a bargain basement Cold War script (a genre that was relevant in 1985) that has been re-heated as a star vehicle for chrome dome. There is no single way that this film’s piss poor screenplay (written by Hollywood’s worst screenwriter, Skip Woods) had its genesis in the Die Hard universe. In fact, it was once rumoured that this entry would be a crossover between Die Hard and TV’s 24. And while that coke-induced (not the type in the can) idea was scrapped, this film feels like its Robert Downey Jnr level hangover. This film transcends the over-the-top lunacy of the fourth film and lands squarely in the realm of cartoon. Gone is the vulnerable, smart and resourceful hero of the original. He has instead been replaced by an unstoppable killing machine who – like a pull-string toy — sprouts irrelevant catch phrases like ‘I’m on vacation!’ in the middle of a fire fight. Screenwriter Skip Woods has walked so far from the well that 2013’s John McClane has more in common with Bugs Bunny than he does with Dirty Harry.
Problem number two: director John Moore. I was pissed off when Fox gave the keys to this franchise to the man behind Underworld , Len Wiseman, in 2007. But in the end, Mr Kate Beckinsale turned out a slick, inoffensive actioner – albeit one that forgot some key Die Hard staples: smoking, swearing and wife-beater singlets. Moore has the luxury of a harder rating this time out but he completely squanders the opportunity, so much so, that I long for Wiseman. Despite letting his stunt team break more glass than the London riots, Moore can’t keep his camera still for more than two seconds to capture it. The minute this film’s action starts, it blows its real world credentials. I’m all for heightened realities, but the shit in Good Day makes The Avengers look like Downton Abbey. I rolled my eyes so often in Good Day — especially at seeing a CGI Bruce Willis swinging off the back of a helicopter (while yelling ‘I’m on vacation!’) — that I’m surprised the usher didn’t think I was having an epileptic fit.
You can’t turn shit into strawberry jam, and the actors of Good Day know this. Screenwriter Skip Woods has left his crew out to sea with his inane scrawlings, and the most stranded of all is the star of the show himself, Mr Bruce Willis. I swear to god, Bruce thinks he is making a zombie film, and just forgot to inform the rest of the crew. This incarnation of McClane is so removed from his original (a master class in charisma), and so drained of life, that I suspect his on-set rider consisted exclusively of Stilnox. Hell, I’m always in Bruce’s corner (except when he works with Matthew Perry), and I considered his previous film, Looper, to be the best time I had at the cinema in 2012. But his involvement in paycheck shit like this blunts my anticipation of his work considerably. The new kid on the block, Aussie Jai Courtney fares better than the main man himself, and he has a gung-ho muscularity that works well within the genre, but saddled with Woods’ leaden words this gig goes from a once-in-a-lifetime to I-hope-people-forget-this-soon. Courtney has a future in film (check him out in Jack Reacher), but this won’t elevate him to the A-list. The rest of the cast are completely unmemorable: you won’t find a snarling Gruber (Hans or Simon) or a naked Colonel Stuart anywhere near this bunch of formulaic eurotrash. The script throws so many villains at the protagonists that you get whiplash just trying to keep up with all of the (illogical) plot twists – I’m not the only one who was confused, at one point McClane says ‘Lets kill some motherfuckers’, even he doesn’t know who the hell he is fighting.
After reading this diatribe you must be thinking ‘He really doesn’t like Die Hard’, but that is flat out not the case. I fucking love Die Hard, maybe a little too much. I’ve got VHS, DVD and Blu-ray boxsets of all the films, and hell, I even have a bottle opener that says ‘Yipee-ki-yay, motherfucker!’ What I hate is second rate, film-by-committee bullshit that masquerades like a new entry in a formidable franchise, shit like Terminator Salvation and Aliens Vs Predator, shit that doesn’t have a goddamn inch of respect for source material , and even less for the fans. If you want a sequel to Die Hard that you haven’t seen — and that doesn’t suck — check out (the late) Tony Scott’s The Last Boy Scout. Bruce may be playing ‘Joe Hallenbeck’, but it is a Die Hard film in every way that counts: Bruce smokes, swears and kicks an unholy amount of arse. And unlike A Good Day to Die Hard, it rocks.