A Bad Day for ‘Die Hard’

Article Published: Feb. 28, 2013 | Modified: Feb. 28, 2013
A Bad Day for ‘Die Hard’

From left, Jai Courtney and Bruce Willis star in 'A Good Day to Die Hard.'

Photo submitted

Dying hard has never been so dull.

And it shouldn’t be.

John McClane and his “Die Hard” fans deserve better, but “A Good Day to Die Hard” only gets worse.

From its tagline – “Yippee ki yay, Mother Russia” – to a screenplay that could’ve been written by a sixth-grader guided by Cinemax, this sequel manages to disappoint on all fronts.

Most noticeably, it just doesn’t feel like a “Die Hard” movie. Devoid of wit and charm, it’s a paint-by-numbers action flick colored with an unremarkable shade of Bruce Willis. It really could have starred anyone, simply by changing some character names.

Directed by John Moore (“Max Payne”), “Good Day” contrives to follow the continued exploits of New York cop John McClane (Willis, “Pulp Fiction”), who has just learned that his estranged son, Jack (Jai Courtney, Starz’ “Spartacus: War of the Damned”), has been arrested in Moscow, Russia, on a slew of felony charges.

Blaming himself for his son’s wayward course in life, John heads overseas to lend a helping hand and maybe patch things up. Naturally, things aren’t quite as they seem. A terrorist attack on a federal courthouse – where Jack is to be tried, of course – springs John into action, and father and son are soon reunited in a havoc-wreaking car chase through Russia’s capital city.

As it turns out, Jack is a CIA operative tasked with extracting a Russian political prisoner (Sebastian Koch, “Unknown”), who has some dirt on a high-ranking Russian official (Sergei Kolesnikov, “Cold Souls”).

Obviously, the official doesn’t intend to let his quarry escape so easily, meaning that it’s up to John and Jack to save the day. It also means that our protagonist is once again caught up in a wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time scenario – a “Die Hard” staple.

But in “Good Day,” that scenario is clearly forced. John seems eager to jump into the fray, completely at odds with what made the series memorable in the first place.

In the 1988 original, Willis introduced John McClane as a reluctant, vulnerable and all-too-human hero. Not so coincidentally, this is what made the character so strong.

But in the course of four sequels, the character has actually seemed to devolve, becoming a bulletproof, invincible superhero in everyman’s clothes, one who leaps into action rather than inadvertently stumble. And the series has suffered for it.

The previous entry, “Live Free or Die Hard,” featured a watered-down PG-13 rating and uncharacteristic computer-generated special effects. While “Good Day” touts a hefty R rating, the absurd action sequences – many of which are also computer-animated – and situations our heroes implausibly survive make this even more unbelievable than the last.

The film’s elementary dialogue actually manages to make things worse, with McClane repeatedly griping about how he’s supposed to be on vacation, which contradicts the very reason he’s abroad in the first place.

The setting is also squandered, wasted on the filmmakers’ poor attempt to conjure 1980s action nostalgia. Instead, the whole effort leaves audiences nostalgic for a better movie.

Put simply, “A Good Day to Die Hard” is a bad day for action cinema.

“A Good Day to Die Hard,” rated R for violence and language, is playing at Regal Cinema 7 in Boone. For show times, visit http://www.mountaintimes.com/movies.

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