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Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!
Note: A few days ago, Nick posted his review of the new film A Good Day to Die Hard. You can find that review right here.
When I heard Fox was making another Die Hard movie, I was pretty happy. I consider myself a huge fan of the franchise and have seen each film in the series several times. The original Die Hard is one of my favorite films of all time, and is rightly considered an action-movie classic. The second has its detractors, but it’s an incredibly fun film if somewhat redundant. Die Hard with a Vengeance is better than part two, and the first half of that film almost lives up to the original movie. Live Free or Die Hard was crucified on the internet (especially due to its controversial PG-13 rating), but I found it a decent action flick, if a bit over-the-top. The latest, the poorly titled A Good Day to Die Hard, is one of the worst movies I’ve ever paid to see in theaters. It is a travesty of a film with zero redeeming qualities, and it is a massive embarrassment for everyone involved.
The film opens the way all action films should: with an extended scene of two men having a conversation in a foreign language that does nothing whatsoever to establish their characters, instead serving only to confuse audiences for the entirety of the movie as it is never really quite explained why these two men are at odds in the first place. One of them apparently is a political prisoner of some kind, and also apparently has a secret file with information or such contained within that may or may not be able to do something important perhaps. A cursory glance of Wikipedia tells me one of the men’s names is Komarov. The other man, apparently in the Russian mafia or the KGB or something, is named Chagarin, though I’m not sure if his name is ever spoken aloud in the movie or not.
Meanwhile, a young man, who we eventually find out is Jack McClane (Jai Courtney, who is terrible), son of John McClane of the previous films, is arrested for assassinating some guy the audience is never given a reason to know or care about. Turns out he did it on purpose in order to get arrested and then testify on Komarov’s behalf. Why he couldn’t testify for Komarov without murdering someone in cold blood is never explained. The twist is that Jack is actually in the CIA, who have set up shop in Russia despite the Cold War ending over twenty years ago. John (a bored Bruce Willis), under the guise that his son is in major trouble, heads out of New York City and into Moscow in order to somehow help or free his son (it’s never quite clear). None of this is really a spoiler, as it happens within the first twenty minutes or so. The rest of the plot is almost a paint-by-numbers action cliché, and really isn’t worth explaining except for key details that will continue to make up this overwhelmingly negative review.
Total honesty time: I went into A Good Day to Die Hard with absolutely no expectations whatsoever. I had an open mind, and at least expected to be entertained. However, as noted earlier, I knew I was going to hate this movie five minutes in. I didn’t think that I would become actively bored, but that’s exactly what happened. I’m no stranger to seeing bad movies in cinema – it’s actually a hobby of mine. A Good Day to Die Hard isn’t just actively bad – it’s fucking atrocious. It is almost offensive how bad this movie is, and like Nick noted in his review, it will probably kill the franchise (the film has done well overseas but has met with incredibly limited box office in America).
There are several reasons why A Good Day to Die Hard is a bad movie. The first is with the writing. Skip Woods, he of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, The A-Team (which I liked but isn’t good art), and Swordfish, is the credited writer for this film. Not only is Wood’s script illogical, humorless, and bland, it also fails at grasping basic concepts like time and place (characters run from one place to the next without a thought as to where they’re going or why continually in this film). The direction isn’t much better, and director John Moore is no stranger to bad cinema (Behind Enemy Lines, the remake of Flight of the Phoenix, and the cinematic adaptation of Max Payne are just a few of his awful credits). There are parts of the direction in this movie that are incredibly illogical, including a scene where our characters tumble down a red tube of some kind that, when shot from the inside, the tube appears connected but when shot from the outside, it does not. There are also parts where the direction is mainly just bland – these parts make up the bulk of the film.
The acting is also incredibly weak in this film. The villains are un-menacing, ineffective, and not memorable in the slightest. Everyone remembers Hans Gruber from the original Die Hard – he is an iconic villain in movie history. I can’t even remember the name of the villain from this movie without the aid of Wikipedia as a reference. The motivation behind the villain’s actions is never all that clear either. Apparently, the villain wants to maybe use plutonium to make weapons or something, but it’s never explained how he’s going to do that or who he’s even making them for. It isn’t even explained why he’s making them – he just is. Is he planning on selling them? Who knows. A good performance can override such bad writing, but the performances in this movie are again, as noted, completely ineffectual.
Willis himself looks incredibly bored and out of place. He is noticeably old and slow, especially in scenes involving hand-to-hand combat. The indestructible Willis of the latter Die Hard films is back here as well, and some of the shit he survives is just downright unbelievable. Not even the suspension of disbelief is enough to mask the incredulous falls this guy takes. Special reservation must be made for Jai Courtney, who is probably Australia’s worst export since Sam Worthington (and I’m a Worthington defender). He’s a bland, incredibly poor actor without an ounce of charisma in this role. He’s a lunky meathead who we’re supposed to believe is a CIA agent on assignment in a deep undercover covert operation for three years. I wouldn’t trust this guy to run the counter at a GNC. Also, he looks nothing like Bruce Willis, even with a shaved head. I have no idea why it was so hard for them to cast this role, but they made about the worst possible choice they could have with Courtney.
The first Die Hard movie is an action classic. Willis plays an everyman-type of character. He’s a good-hearted, stubborn guy thrust into a bad situation. Subsequent Die Hard films lost a bit of what the first one meant, but they were in no way bad movies (even Live Free has its moments, and is better than a lot of people give it credit for, Justin Long and all). The latest, A Good Day to Die Hard, is an atrocious, odious film without a single good thing worth mentioning. It’s ridiculous just how fair this film franchise has fallen. I have no clue why Fox would take what should be a marquee franchise and just crap all over it the way that they have with A Good Day to Die Hard. This movie should be avoided at all costs – even a cheap rental in two months when this is out on DVD would be a mistake.