“A Good Day To Die Hard” Review: It Really Isn’t


By Wesley Emblidge

Bruce Willis and Jai Courtney in "A Good Day to Die Hard"
Bruce Willis and Jai Courtney in “A Good Day to Die Hard”

Oh, “Die Hard.” How I loved you. How I loved the way you turned such a simple premise into a near-perfect action movie. How I loved the way you introduced us to Bruce Willis, now an action star and not the lead in rom-coms. How I loved all your characters, action scenes and comedy beats. How I was so let down by your sequel, “Die Hard 2: Die Harder.” How I was mildly entertained by “Die Hard With A Vengeance.” How I was completely crushed with “Live Free Or Die Hard,” the moment I finally understood that everything I loved about this series was finally gone. Four movies later, all that’s left are the labels: Die Hard, John McClane and Bruce Willis. Those three elements are all that remains in this lifeless franchise, now simply churning out stock action movies and slapping the Die Hard brand on them. However much as I hated the fourth entry, the fifth, “A Good Day to Die Hard,” somehow managed to take the franchise down another peg and depress me even more.

Each entry has opted to go “bigger,” from a building, to an airport, to New York City, to America, so one would expect “the world” from this one (and maybe outer space in the inevitable next?), right? Well, you get “international” instead, with John (the empty, lifeless, rotting husk of skin that once was Bruce Willis) heading off to Russia to try and track down his estranged son Jack (Jai Courtney, who is clearly being set up to take over the franchise one day). Jack is working on a mission for the CIA which John manages to interrupt five minutes after he arrives in Moscow. An chaotic car chase ensues, in which John destroys half of Moscow and kills countless people for no real purpose – he just wants to know what his son is up to. Either that, or he’s beginning to have dementia, because he often seems to think he’s somewhere else. At one point during the car chase he drives up next to one of the henchmen and shouts “Guess who?” as if they’ve met before. At another point it seems he’s forgotten he’s in Russia; he hits a car and the driver starts yelling at him in Russian. John gets really angry and replies with ,“How am I supposed to understand you?”

Of course, you’d probably miss all that since the scene is incomprehensible and hard to watch, with some especially strange shots that zoom in and out quickly as if you’re on an amusement park ride. It’s also (sadly) probably a bright spot in the movie, and is the best action scene only because it isn’t plagued by horrible CG elements or laughably stupid beats.

John and Jack end up teaming up, of course, to try and finish Jack’s mission – or something like that. It all feels more like the skeleton of a movie and not an actual fully fleshed out premise, and leads to a third act so full of nonsensical twists and incredibly stupid moments that you have to wonder if anyone actually read the script before shooting.

I wasn’t really expecting much. It’s pretty rare for the fifth entry in a franchise to be any good. Every choice seemed like it couldn’t be worse, from director John Moore (“Max Payne”) to writer Skip Woods (“X-Men Origins: Wolverine”). It was as if Fox wanted to see just how far they could run it into the ground.

What can I say that’s positive? I would be glad that, unlike the last film, this one was willing to go for the R rating. But the big reason is to have the classic catchphrase “Yippie Kay-Yay Motherf***er,” and when does it show up here? John mutters it to himself in the car, so quietly you barely hear. I would say I appreciated Jai Courtney, but I more appreciated that he wasn’t terrible, not that he was any good. I guess the best I can say is that it’s short, so the pain only lasts so long. There are just a lot of elements that at best are “not terrible.”

Really, the movie is just reprehensible. This is the kind of movie that gets people angry about violence in film, as well, because of the way it presents killing. At one point John excitedly says “Let’s go kill some motherf***ers.” He can’t wait to kill people, instead of fighting to save lives, as he was trying to do back in 1988.

A stupid, overproduced pile of excrement, “A Good Day to Die Hard” stays afloat only by re-using elements from the first film and spending lots of money on CG helicopters. I don’t see this franchise ever recovering, but since this will make tons of money, I’m sure that executives will come up with more ideas on how to further destroy the legacy of one of the best action movies ever made.


1.5/5 Stars