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Movie Review: A Good Day to Die Hard, a bad night at the movies

A Good Day to Die Hard (2013) Screenshot - a good day to die hard

With A Good Day to Die Hard, John McClane (Bruce Willis) officially becomes James Bond. Joining his son Jack in an explosive spy mission, he once again proves he can be shoved into one explosive action scenario after another for the rest of time. He even takes a page from Jason Bourne, running away to a grey Russian setting and copying shots from The Bourne Supremacy’s final car chase. What he fails to carry from Bourne, Bond, or even his past films is the wit and intelligence to keep things interesting.

This Die Hard is loud and explosive from square one. It begins with a car chase that would be the final showdown in any other film. It just goes and goes, escalating in action and pacing. The camera-work is like a grab bag of shaky cam, corny zooms and 'clever' shots -- it feels like someone was trying too hard. Before the characters, relationships and overall plot are established, we’re shown a Michael Bay film worth of property damage.

A Good Day to Die Hard

Hidden within all the noise is the heart of the series, John McClane, except he has all the personality of Gilbert Gottfried thrown into the same scenario. He mumbles nonsensical one-liners throughout this entire sequence that comes off as senility, not coolness. It goes full ridiculous when he accepts a call from his daughter while driving on top of an 18-wheeler full of sports cars. If nothing else, the amount of destruction is impressive.

Eventually, relationships are established and a plot comes together. However, it’s all so simplistic that the film would have been better off if it was just a 97-minute car chase. John and his son are estranged. Jack calls him “John” instead of “Dad,” and that’s probably all you need to know. Their relationship evolves exactly how you’d expect.

A Good Day to Die Hard

The double-crossing espionage plot isn’t worth the extra work in piecing it all together. It opens with people yelling about “Komarov” and “Chagrin,” and it’s about as easy to follow as a Call of Duty loading screen sequence. By the end of the movie, you can’t help but wonder what all the obfuscation was for; the entire plot could be explained in a few short sentences.

As an excuse to barrel through Russia and sneak into Chernobyl, the plot offers up some potentially fun locales. Unfortunately, it’s all just background noise for the McClane boys to roll around in. This film’s ability to make Chernobyl a boring spot for an action sequence says everything you need to know about it. When one of the bad guys basically runs into a wall in frustration, it seems like someone’s trying to say something.

A Good Day to Die Hard

Bruce Willis and a few references here and there are the only things that keep this film a Die Hard film. Then again, when two out of five entries awkwardly shove John McClane into ridiculous scenarios, do we really know what a Die Hard film is anymore? It seems like this would be a final nail in the coffin, but since A Good Day to Die Hard is inconsequential to the Die Hard 'lore,' I fully expect to see 'Die Hard and Stay Dead' a few years from now.

1.5 stars rating

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Joe Donato Video games became an amazing, artful, interactive story-driven medium for me right around when I played Panzer Dragoon Saga on Sega Saturn. Ever since then, I've wanted to be a part of this industry. Somewhere along the line I, possibly foolishly, decided I'd rather write about them than actually make them. So here I am.
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