Fans of the first three Die Hard films (even the fourth) should have had high hopes for the fifth installment.
With John McClane enjoying something of a rest with the New York Police Department after a few escapades with terrorists, teaming up with his son in Russia has the ingredients for a great action film.
However, just too many action scenes and a poor plot with a tedious script that leaves the characters to fend for themselves means it is likely time to finish the franchise here.
The Die Hard Family
Long-standing fans of the franchise should be familiar with McClane’s wife (played by Bonnie Bedelia).
Here the family grows with his son, Jack McClane, (Jai Courtney), and his daughter, Lucy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).
The main draw will always be Willis yet the siblings provide some somewhat light relief to their father’s grumpiness at the fact that he, yet again, has to save everybody.
At times, there are attempts at father-son bonding yet it proves difficult to care when it is entangled in such a mess of a film.
A Good Time To End The Franchise?
This is the fifth film in the Die Hard franchise which, judging by this installment, has had its time.
Though A Good Time To Die Hard is set in Moscow, the film does little with the setting and rolls along just like any other action movie.
Sure, Willis as McClane does what he does while ‘on vacation’ and teams up with his son who now works for the CIA (Jai Courtney) yet the action scenes themselves could have been anywhere.
Even when the film moves to Chernobyl, the opportunity to do something memorable passes it by.
There are times when this seems less like the fifth installment in a franchise and rather a vehicle for all those remaining plot points left on the writing room floor.
Brazen writing and even more bull-headed decisions matter little when the ending is in sight.
There’s something of a plot in that Jack McClane has been arrested for murder yet does it need to be in Russia?
At times, you wonder if the film is aware of what’s going on, and even whether it cares.
Several action films have excelled at providing portrayals of conflicted, even empathetic villains. A Good Time To Die Hard struggles simply because there is a quest to work out who the villains are.
Hans Gruber went a long way to setting a template for other complex villains to follow, here you cannot even recall their names or their motivations in an uninspiring script.
Another Action Film
If there was a point to end the Die Hard franchise then an excellent trilogy would have been a good place for McClane to officially retire.
He’d done enough, he could have retired with a well-earned vacation, whether or not he got back with his ex-wife or not.
That the director, John Moore, has earned a reputation for remakes and video game adaptations should not be missed yet the action scenes and stunts do impress in isolation.
If anything, it is the writing that truly jars.
The fact that the film is set in Russia seems to be a brutal and blatant attempt to see how McClane would operate on foreign shores.
Spoiler: he just about gets away with it but lines like “it’s not 1986 anymore” fall flat.
A Good Day To Die Hard may have worked if released in 1995 when The Cold War was still fresh in people’s minds and visiting Moscow then Chernobyl would have seemed like truly going behind the curtain.
Though Willis tries to engage himself, even he must admit that his best days as an action hero are behind him, notably in the first three installments.
A Good Day To Die Hard feels less like a Die Hard film, rather just another Bruce Willis vehicle for some surly acting and a few explosions.
The plot seems so thin, and the Russian enemies so forgettable, that this could have translated into a better video game than something to pay to see in the cinema.
Perhaps there are even too many action scenes with little time spared to even become intrigued, let alone involved, by the main characters.
Part of this is down to the key relationship and how a seasoned cop failed to realize his son was working for the CIA.
When he does, it’s already too late as explosions, crashed helicopters, and Russian thugs seem to follow the pair across Russia.
That neither of them seems to suffer anything close to a sprained ankle goes someway to proving how illogical this film is.
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