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A Good Day to Die Hard ••

A_Good_Day_to_Die_HardStarring: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney
Director: John Moore
Screenplay: Skip Woods, Roderick Thorp
Action/Crime/Thriller, Rated: R
Running Time: 98 mins

(Greg Smith, Founder of Agile Writers of Richmond, VA)

Scott, this week we review A Good Day To Die Hard, the fifth in the Die Hard franchise. And I’m sorry to say it is probably the worst in the series.

(Dr. Scott Allison, Professor of Psychology, University of Richmond)

Greg, this series is running on fumes. Die Hard should be renamed Die Already. But out of respect for the quality of the predecessors in this series, we’ll review this flic. The hero story is actually not as bad as the movie.

Well in this installment, Bruce Willis comes back as John McClane and he’s in search of his son who is always getting into trouble. This time Jack (the son, played by Jai Courtney) has gotten himself into a Russian prison and John has to get him out. One thing leads to another and they are running from bad guys who want to kidnap a Russian defector.

In any Die Hard movie, we need McClane to rescue loved ones from bad guys with eastern European accents. Here McClane learns that his son Jack is actually a CIA agent who is trying to rescue a Russian billionaire named Komarov from corrupt Russian officials. McClaine inadvertently foils his son’s plans and must spend the remainder of the movie trying to atone for his actions while also trying to mend the broken relationship he has with his son. Greg, what your take on the set-up of this story?

It’s a far-fetched plot, but we knew what we were getting in for when we paid for a Die Hard ticket. In other movies, McClane has the excuse that he’s a cop. So, he can do things like commandeer a civilian’s truck. But when he does it in Russia, he’s blatantly breaking the law (not to mention that he assaulted the driver when he did it). And there are other huge plot holes. Like the scene where Jack is in jail and the bad guys bomb a courtroom to bust the defector out – and Jack takes custody of the defector as if he knew what the bad guys had planned. Absorbing this takes more than simple suspension of disbelief.

We know that all heroes must move from the safe, familiar world into the dangerous, unfamiliar world. Because Die Hard is a repeating series, McClane now feels right at home in that not-so-unfamiliar world. That’s a problem; heroes shouldn’t be so comfortable when confronted with impossible life-threatening jams. His son Jack, however, is clearly out of his element and has to rely on dad. In this way we see McClane evolving from a Hero character into the role of Mentor in this series.

Scott, I think McClane is cast in the special world of CIA ops. There’s even a point in the movie where Jack chides his father: “You’re out of your depth, John.” What we observe is that Jack is a sort of screw up as a “burnable asset” to the CIA. He had a role to play and he’s missed the mark – he loses the defector to the bad guys and he gives up. This is where John comes in as the Mentor. John throws his son’s defeat in his face and tells him to “gather up his dolls and go home.” Then John helps Jack push through his defeat and create a plan to retrieve the defector. And this is where the movie goes from sublime to the ridiculous. The bad guys all run to Chernobyl where the father and son have to work together to fight a common foe.

Greg, as we’ve said many times, the villain has to be as strong a character as the hero. Unfortunately, these villains are all cardboard cut-out, Hollywood stereotypes of mean Russians. To be fair, this is not a villain-centered movie. It’s a passing-of-the-torch movie, a sort of family buddy-cop story. Bruce Willis is looking as grizzled and as geezerly as ever, and yet he still manages to fly through plate glass windows and plummet hundreds of feet onto concrete with hardly a scratch. After each scene we’re left wondering how someone so grandfatherly can avoid breaking a hip. Is Jai Courtney (as Jack) being groomed as the heir-apparent to Willis in this series? Only time will tell.

I think you’ve seen through their devious plot! There’s not a lot to this movie. Unlike the first installment, this is mindless explosions and stunt effects. I can’t recommend anyone take the time to watch A Good Day To Die Hard. I give it 2 out of 5 Reels and 1 out of 5 Heroes.

Movie: reel-2 Hero:superman-1

Greg, I agree with you that this movie was devoid of imagination and depth. Although we enjoy seeing Bruce Willis mugging for the camera while he faces (seemingly) imminent death, there is no suspense here at all. He knows that we know that he knows that the good guys will prevail. So like you, the movie earns 2 out of 5 Reels.

But I’m going to disagree with you about the hero story. There is a semi-interesting changing of the guard story here, with a hero evolving into a mentor and a young naive kid maturing into the hero who will take his dad’s place. The hero story isn’t a failure — it’s a solidly mediocre 3 out of 5 Heroes.

Movie: reel-2 Hero: superman-3

Ok, Scott. Have it your way. I still say two bad heroes don’t add up to one good one. I’d much rather look at The Three Stooges than watch A Good Day to Die Hard again. Yuk Yuk Yuk!

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