Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Cinema File #120: "A Good Day To Die Hard" Review

Wow. Really, I didn't think it was possible to make a Die Hard movie that was shittier than Live Free Or Die Hard. Honestly, I'm flabbergasted. How do you make a movie so bad that it makes John McClane and Justin Long teaming up against Timothy Olyphant as an internet savvy terrorist look actually half way decent? Don't get me wrong, that movie still sucks huge donkey balls, but damn man, the shit quotient of Die Hard 4, coming after the best movie in the franchise so many years prior, was a tragedy, not a public challenge to the next guy to do even worse! In any case, congratulations A Good Day To Die Hard, you did it. Everyone in the world is now dumber for having watched it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

A Good Day To Die Hard finds our favorite action hero everyman John McClane in Russia on the trail of his estranged son, an undercover CIA agent protecting an escaped political prisoner from bad guys that for the life of me I could not keep track of. The ultimate sin of this movie is sort of the reverse mirror image of the last film's biggest problem. While Live Free Or Die Hard was too busy and preoccupied with reinventing the franchise that it forgot what made it interesting, this new entry is just so boring and plodding and generic that it never even tries to transition into anything uniquely like a Die Hard movie. I don't recognize this John McClane as independent from any other stock action movie hero, and nothing that happens in the film, literally from beginning to end, gives me any reason to be invested in what is happening onscreen.

Contrary to some reviews I've read, I actually think the premise of teaming up McClane with an adult son who is just like him had some promise. The idea that all the awesome adventures we've seen up to this point kept McClane from being able to raise his kid, and as a result that kid grew up to resent his father while becoming just like him could have been a very interesting relationship to explore. It certainly contains a lot more potential for dramatic conflict than "McClane is fighting the internet, and doesn't know how to use a computer, so Kevin Smith and the I'm A Mac guy need to save the day." The problem is, this element of the plot is never exploited for any of that dramatic potential, save for one obligatory family bonding moment that just feels completely unearned given the complete lack of set-up leading to that point.

If not for the post-Soviet fall setting, I'd wonder if this script was adapted from some long unproduced cheesy straight to video action schlock from the 80's. The plot twists are just so rote and predictable, going from boring as hell action set piece to boring as hell action set piece in such a way that implies the director is completely oblivious to the past thirty years of evolving action choreography, up to and including all the previous movies in this very franchise. I'm not sure if I was supposed to be more surprised by the various betrayals and shifting allegiances of new characters I didn't care about, but I was already at the end of this movie about twenty minutes in, and to say the action sequences utterly failed to carry me through is an understatement. A Good Day To Die Hard is a chore to get through, which despite my complaints concerning the last film, is something I've never before been able to say about a Die Hard movie.

Even if you are the most die hard of Die Hard fans, trust me, you can skip this one. Even as nostalgia, A Good Day To Die Hard is a failure, as it only makes one angry that such a classic and beloved character has been reduced to something so unbefitting his legacy, and that the actor went along with it so readily. Go back and watch the original trilogy, and just try to forget that they ever tried to bring him back after the Samuel L. Jackson one. I assure you, you will be much better for it. 

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