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Movie Review: A Good Day to Die Hard

Is there any name more synonymous with action than John McClane? Well, maybe at least as far as characters go. I even own the NECA Cult Figures action figure and have the original Roderick Thorp novel (Nothing Lasts Forever) that started it all sitting on a shelf at home. Maybe it’s just me, but of all the action series to come out of the ’80s, the Die Hard films just may be favorites. With a smartass attitude and McClane’s wrong guy in the wrong place scenarios, Bruce Willis has provided us plenty of bang for our buck — proving you can’t keep a good franchise down. While some may have had complaints about the last outing, sighting Live Free or Die Hard as too broad and a bit on the Looney Tunes side, director John Moore proves that the series, and himself, have plenty of adventures up their sleeves with A Good Day to Die Hard.

In Moscow, Yuri Komarov (Sebastian Koch) is set to stand trial. Jack McClane (Jai Courtney) also has just gotten himself implicated after a shooting at a night club and offers to testify against Yuri under oath. Meanwhile, John McClane is in New York where he’s just been informed that his son has been arrested. After John is dropped off at the airport by daughter Lucy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), complete with a copy of Idiot’s Guide to Moscow, Lucy begs him to not make things worse. John just wants to get to Moscow and bring back his son. What John doesn’t know is that Jack has staged an escape for Yuri and bad guy Alik (Rasha Bukvic) is hot on their trail. But it’s one-liners, double crosses, car chases, gunfire, and explosions galore once John gets caught up in the middle of things, and that’s just the way we like it.

Willis seems to have more control over the director decisions having hand-picked Len Wiseman for Live Free and bringing on John Moore for A Good Day. While I never had faith in either of them — I can’t stand Wiseman’s Underworld series and Moore seemed content with his continually bland brand of action (see Max Payne, Flight of the Phoenix, Behind Enemy Lines, and the abysmal Omen remake) — both have proven more than adequate in the ways of Dying Hard. The series sees even more changes this time around with less of the original Michael Kamen musical cues and the scope ratio altered down too. The storyline is pretty flimsy this time and the film relies so heavily on the father/son dynamic that it should have been released on Father’s Day weekend.

Thankfully, writer Skip Woods (also unknown for great action films: The A-Team, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Hitman, Swordfish) knows how to string along the action and like I said before, that’s why we came in the first place. The film’s sense of fun keeps the pacing chugging along, even if there are some lulls here and there which is really surprising considering this is the shortest Die Hard yet at a mere 97 minutes. Courtney holds his own as McClane Jr. and I won’t be surprised to see him back with Willis already letting on that a sixth installment is under way. If the next one isn’t called Old Habits Die Hard what else could they possibly call it? While the action gods may be back in full force this year (Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone both have already failed at the box office), leave it to McClane to make any day A Good Day to Die Hard.

Photos courtesy Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

About Cinenerd

A Utah based writer, born and raised in Salt Lake City, UT for better and worse. Cinenerd has had an obsession with film his entire life, finally able to write about them since 2009, and the only thing he loves more are his wife and their two wiener dogs (Beatrix Kiddo and Pixar Animation). He is accredited with the Sundance Film Festival and a member of the Utah Film Critics Association.

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