Action/Thriller. Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch, Sergei Kolesnikov, Radivoje Bukvic, Yuliya Snigir, Cole Hauser, Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Directors: John Moore
Halfway through this outlandish fifth instalment of the Die Hard franchise, a Russian henchman scolds John McClane (Bruce Willis) for recklessness in the face of certain death.
“So arrogant,” sneers the East European underling, “it’s not 1986, you know!”
No it’s not, despite the Cold War stereotypes that perpetuate Skip Woods’ shambolic script.
A Good Day To Die Hard is a high-speed tour down Memory McClane that cynically exploits our nostalgia for one of cinema’s most tenacious action heroes.
It’s been 25 years since Willis’s wise-cracking cop stormed the Nakatomi Plaza to rescue his wife from German terrorist Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) in the original Die Hard. Since then, McClane has demolished an airport, played deadly games with Gruber’s psychotic brother (Jeremy Irons) and hacked down a gang of cyber terrorists in the company of his daughter (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).
For this latest assignment, estranged son Jack (Jai Courtney) enters the cinematic fray, joining the old man on a testosterone-fuelled romp through Moscow. There’s no art, creativity or invention in John Moore’s overblown sequel; no subtlety nor emotion, even with the strained father-son relationship at the heart of Woods’ screenplay.
Just outrageous set pieces which defy the laws of physics, deafening explosions that shake the entire cinema and Willis delivering his “Yippee-ki-yay” catchphrase with a weariness we share by the end.
The perfunctory plot dispatches McClane to the gridlocked Russian capital to visit his son Jack, who has been arrested for murder. No sooner has John strutted into Moscow than terrorists blow up the courthouse with the intention of kidnapping high-profile prisoner Yuri Komarov, who holds vital information that could bring down corrupt Russian politician Viktor Chagarin.
As the dust settles, McClane sees his son leading Komarov to safety with gun-toting assassins in hot pursuit. John gives chase in the first of several implausible action sequences, and learns that Jack is a CIA hotshot on a top-secret mission to protect Komarov and his dossier of evidence.
So John takes up arms alongside his boy, sprinting through gaping plot holes that lead to a ridiculous revelation about the theft of weapons-grade uranium from Chernobyl.
A Good Day To Die Hard is a soulless money-machine exercise. The plot is crudely bolted together, sandwiching pyrotechnics between fractious father-son bonding. There’s no palpable screen chemistry between Willis and Courtney, which undermines the reconciliation of their two characters.
Pithy one-liners are noticeably thin on the ground and while stunts are undoubtedly bigger than previous films, they are certainly not better.
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