A Good Day To Die Hard Review

The Plot:

John McClane sets out to Russia in search of his apparently wayward son Jack. But their family reunion is spoiled when McClane also finds his usual trouble of bombs, bullets and bad guys. With nobody else seemingly around to stop the mayhem, it’s time for the ultimate father and son team to take care of things…

The Good:

Fans of the Die Hard franchise will no doubt be pleased to see that John McClane is still having trouble dying after roughly 25 years of saving the world from machine gun toting bad guys. Though the action genre has evolved dramatically in that time, its spirit of macho heroics remains vastly popular. Whatever people’s reactions to this latest adventure, at the very least it is a reminder of a very special franchise.

Relative newcomer Jai Courtney handles the daunting prospect of playing John McClane’s son quite well. Between this film and a recent villainous turn in Jack Reacher, he’s demonstrated a convincing physical presence that should see him quickly graduate to leading man roles. In truth at times it feels like he may have already done that in this film, as he often feels more like our capable hero than Bruce Willis does.

The Bad:

Bruce Willis is 57 years old and he looks it, more worryingly, for the first time on screen he really feels… old. His lumbering body is seemingly indestructible, but fails to convince throughout the relentless physical action. It’s difficult to accept McClane could run fast enough to catch the bad guys, let alone survive a never ending series of car crashes and explosions. Standing alongside Jai Courtney’s impressively chiseled physique is a depressing reminder of reality.

Detective John McClane was once an undisputed action hero icon, but sadly the underdog charms this character once possessed have been mercilessly eroded by decades of being an invincible superhero. His well-deserved and satisfying wisecracks have been tragically replaced with meaningless bravado and obnoxious smugness.

Die Hard 4.0 was heavily criticised for abandoning the core principle of the Die Hard franchise, that McClane was essentially just a normal guy in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sure he was a tough guy, but he wasn’t superhuman. This film represented a chance to abandon the cartoonish CGI action and take things back to believable basics. Sadly the latest Die Hard film instead continues to plunge the franchise further into disappointing absurdity.

Action blockbusters often have to defend themselves against allegations that they bear no relation to the real world. Indeed much of the joy of the genre is only possible by wilfully ignoring the laws of physics and common sense in favour of escapist entertainment. However that magic trick is only possible if the film is fun enough to distract audiences from the mounting factual inaccuracies and inexplicable plot holes.

The film’s plot feels thin and uninspired, as a promising beginning sadly evaporates into generics. The gaps between the film’s lengthy action sequences are also cluttered with poor dialogue and ill-advised father-son bonding. It’s ultimately hard to know whether many of the groans and giggles the film provokes are intentional or not.

Ugly Truth:

A Good Day To Die Hard may please those craving the comfort of loud noises and uncomplicated explosions this Valentine’s Day. However fans looking for some testosterone fueled nostalgia may be better off re-watching their DVD collection of old school 80’s and 90’s action classics. A bombardment of implausible special effects and a misguided determination to be ‘bigger’ doesn’t compare well to the memorable charms and high standards of the original Die Hard.

Video Interview below with star Jai Courtney and the filmmakers on the red carpet at the film’s London premiere:


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