It’s over. The charm is gone and it’s sad when you see a flawed cowboy become a parody of themselves. I know the illustrious Dr. Kronner covered this debacle already, but A Good Day to Die Hard should have built on the momentum of John McClane (Bruce Willis) established in his return in Live Free and Die Hard but it just comes a generic, cold reminder that it might be best to retire the character and story because it makes little to no sense anymore.
The plot of the story stems from John McClane coming to Russia to help out his estranged son Jack (Jai Courtney), who seems to have gotten into a mess of things with a political prisoner tied to nuclear weapons. Turns out that Jack is in deep CIA cover and this elaborate plot is about to get McClane’d (y’know, an event that goes awry due to explosions and Europeans?). I wish there was more to this movie, but that pretty much explains it. It tries to create a window into a relationship between a father and son (I guess to a lesser extent, parent and child because there’s a subplot of Jack’s mark and his own estranged Russian daughter), but it’s basically a cliché-fest. The major appeal is John McClane. He is flawed, he buries himself in work, his family always suffers and he still charms his way though with his loyalty and his unflinching desire to right the wrongs, even if he caused them to begin with.
The problem is this isn’t John McClane. Bruce Willis is handcuffed by a script that makes him indestructible and boring at the same time. Yes, he gets his quippy one-liners, but he’s not human. He doesn’t have the odds stacked against him. Obviously we know he comes out on top in the end, but the journey is always one of physical and mental beatings that just don’t happen this time around. This time, he might as well be the man of steel as he goes through the routine like it’s just another day in the office. Wrong place at the wrong time was always the mantra of these films but in this case, it’s wrong place at the right time. When he cross paths with his son, who is in way over his head, everyone knows everything will be alright.
Jai Courtney is serviceable as Jack McClane, although nothing memorable or spectacular. It doesn’t help that he’s built like a gladiator (probably from his Spartacus days), so he seems more meathead than someone who battles the against insurmountable odds like his father. John McClane was the unlucky guy that had to become a hero out of necessity to survive. Jack McClane seems to be born out of a comic book, seeking the explosions as opposed his father running from the action with glass embedded in his feet. That seems to be the biggest disconnect with this movie, I just don’t buy the father/son relationship. There’s no real chemistry between the two guys and it feels more like two randoms getting together to fight some Russians. The script doesn’t deliver any real moments between the two other than ‘you suck as a dad’ or ‘please forgive me son’. It’s basically a generic script they picked out the pile, courtesy of Skip Woods, that threw the McClane name on it. It’s lazy and unimaginative.
What else is unoriginal? The direction under John Moore. The shots are straight from the Bourne series and the set pieces come off as uninspired. It’s a lot of ‘been there, done that’. The car chase sequence has its moments but short of that, it is all retread from previous action movies that have done it better. The movie is a blur and not in a good way. It’s nothing memorable and is immediately forgettable after the 97 minutes of mediocrity that splashes the screen. It’s a shame really. After 25 years, this should be a celebration of Die Hard. All it ends up is a morning of a franchise to realize that John McClane needs to retire and ride off into the sunset like the cowboy he truly was. “Happy trails