Die Hard has returned with a fifth installment and this time McClane gets entangled up in a terrorist plot whilst tracking down his estranged son in Moscow. A Good Day To Die Hard is not a good film, even as a standalone action film (that was painful to say). Director John Moore and screenwriter Skip Woods have turned John McClane into a cranky, 2D, “I told you so” character, and completely left out the wise-cracking and quick thinking blue-collared hero elements that made the character iconic. They have clearly not studied their source material well enough. I was pretty uninspired by the direction the producers were taking during its production, and some of Skip Woods’ dialogue is pure cheese (“Damn you, John. Damn you.”). I thought it was strange to hire John Moore, who, for me, wasted a fantastic opportunity with Max Payne to take a great video game adaptation and break the curse. This is a director who, with the slight exception of Behind Enemy Lines (which makes me think the producers picked him purely because he was the only one on the table who has filmed in Russia before), currently has a CV of poor remakes and adaptations. But as always I trusted the producers and thought innocent until proven guilty.
Then again, this is an action film, so ‘best screenplay’ from the Academy isn’t where the filmmakers are looking to get recognition. It’s meant to be an engaging roller coaster ride for the Saturday night multiplex. But even from the start, it doesn’t excite. Shaky-cam and Die Hard just doesn’t gel. It’s not meant to be as gritty as Bourne; it’s meant to be OTT balls-to-the-wall action. Even Bruce Willis seems bored to be there with the script he’s been given. Where has the physical improvisation of using a fire hose to jump off an exploding skyscraper, or using the airport moving walkway to get your gun back gone to? The action is still ambitious in this film (such as the car chase), but it paints a picture that Moscow is like rebel-controlled downtown Mogadishu. The bad guys drive around the city in their armoured truck, changing the architecture as they please whilst firing off random RPGs. Sitting through this, I felt exactly how some people must have felt watching 4.0 (such as my girlfriend :p). Skip Woods has just rehashed the broken family card with this installment and even now I can’t remember what was at stake for McClane aside from protecting the prisoner. The villains didn’t really have any intention, or at least it wasn’t that clear.
Nakatomi Plaza, Dulles Airport, New York City, the United States…… and Russia. The stakes rise every time as the Die Hard series progresses. However, with A Good Day To Die Hard they seem to have regressed somehow (what actually is the imminent threat?). I just hope John McClane doesn’t end up in space next time. If Die Hard 4.0 was meant to right the wrongs that Die Hard With A Vengeance made (a film that I feel is actually great), then they’re back at square one. I’m sorry, Bruce, but this film just didn’t feel like Die Hard to me. I was checking my watch way too many times during the screening.